With staffing posing a greater challenge than ever, many healthcare leaders have a close eye on potentially impactful industry trends. So, from monkeypox to the Inflation Reduction Act, here’s a snapshot of the most important healthcare staffing news facing leaders as we close out the year and head into 2023.
Healthcare Staffing News: U.S. Epicenter of Global Monkeypox Outbreak
Just as the industry was finally showing signs of adapting to Covid-19, the summer of 2022 brought news of a new viral threat. First appearing in the United States in May, monkeypox was in all 50 states by August, making the country the center of the world’s biggest outbreak.
Yet monkeypox isn’t as fatal as Covid-19, nor is it as easily spread. “There is a low risk of transmission of monkeypox in healthcare settings,” notes Healthcare Finance, citing a study published in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology. With that in mind, what effects might it have in store for the healthcare industry in general, and staffing specifically?
Although the worst effects of monkeypox may be less serious or wide-ranging than Covid-19, experts emphasize that it still poses a real threat to public health — and by extension, the healthcare industry. And, as the (likely) first monkeypox death in the country was reported in Texas, the need to prepare for the threat has taken on a new urgency.
“Monkeypox is a serious disease, particularly for those with weakened immune systems,” stated Dr. John Hellerstedt, health commissioner for Texas. “We continue to urge people to seek treatment if they have been exposed to monkeypox or have symptoms consistent with the disease.”
Many people are likely to take that urging seriously, calling their doctors or visiting hospitals if they experience symptoms or even suspect exposure. And that could result in spikes in utilization for many facilities — a circumstance that can throw an already precarious clinical staffing situation out of balance.
In addition, the vulnerability of autoimmune individuals could eventually lead to a disproportionate strain on acute-care facilities, as happened during Covid-19. And, less catastrophic but still impactful, the virus has already led to a dramatic increase in demand for vaccinations. Facilities that are able to offer that vaccination could find themselves stretched thin in terms of available workforce.
Healthcare Staffing News: What to Expect from the Inflation Reduction Act
While many healthcare observers were tracking the progress of monkeypox in the summer of 2022, the U.S. Congress was hammering out the final details of the so-called Inflation Reduction Act. A series of ambitious tax and spending initiatives that was signed into law in August, the new legislation contains significant changes for many parts of the U.S. economy, particularly healthcare.
Called a “flagship climate and health care bill” by the Associated Press, the new law has a specific focus on healthcare. Although much of that is related to pharmaceutical care — giving Medicare new power to negotiate its own costs, for instance — the law also includes $64 billion in assistance for people paying for private insurance plans.
Greater affordability for patients is likely to spur more enrollment and engagement with care. Writing for HealthPayerIntelligence, Victoria Bailey notes that the Act “will likely improve member retention” too — a benefit for insurers that could also directly translate into increased engagement for facilities.
For facilities that have the capacity to take on these new patients, this may be welcomed news. But for those already stretched thin in terms of bed space or nursing staff, it may represent more of a challenge. In either scenario, though, leaders may find a way to ease the stress of this change with the help of a reliable third-party healthcare staffing and recruitment partner.
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