- Health systems are still grappling with ongoing labor stresses, and nursing shortages are having the biggest direct impact on most organizations today, according to a new survey of hospital leaders from Advis consulting.
- In response, hospitals have boosted compensation, turned to more temporary staffing arrangements, partnered with nursing schools and are increasing training and educational opportunities, the survey found.
- Some systems are also losing hope that government funding will help solve current challenges. More than a third of hospital leaders said they aren’t seeking further COVID-19 relief funding, the survey found.
Overall, the biggest challenges facing systems today are staffing shortages, followed by inflation and cost increases, Medicare reimbursement cuts, lack of capital and a resurgence of new COVID-19 variants, the survey found.
Staffing shortages have only worsened throughout the pandemic as nurses and other healthcare workers have been pushed to their breaking points over the past two years.
More than a third of nurses recently surveyed by staffing firm Incredible Health said they plan to leave their current jobs by the end of this year, citing burnout and high-stress work environments. Higher pay elsewhere is the top reason for taking another position, the poll found.
More than 90% of the 75 health system leaders responding to Advis’ survey in March said they’ve increased compensation to recruit and retain staff, while 81% said they are still filling gaps with agency labor.
At the same time, 56% of respondents said they are partnering with nursing schools as concerns around the pipelines for future staff grow.
Hospitals are also currently grappling with COVID-19 'long haulers' who face lingering symptoms. About a fourth of systems said they have redesigned clinics for those patients, the survey found.
Only a small percentage have signed up for the Acute Care Hospital at Home Program, set up by CMS in 2020 to treat more acute needs outside of the inpatient setting, for those patients. "Most simply don’t see the program as applicable," the survey said.
However, 93% of respondents said they’ll continue using more telehealth in the future, after popularity exploded early in the pandemic amid stay-at-home orders and other restrictions.
Throughout the pandemic, systems have leaned on federal relief funds to help offset heightened expenses and decreased revenues. Roughly two-thirds of respondents continue to seek additional grant funding and federal assistance.
About 47% of systems are still hoping additional funds will be added to the Provider Relief Fund, as the American Hospital Association pushed Congress to add $25 billion more to that pot. About 37% of systems would also like more grant funding from Congress to state health departments, so grants can be more specifically tailored to the needs of specific communities, the survey found.