Staying on top of healthcare industry trends has always been a challenge for leaders of care facilities and organizations. That was true even before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the American health system in the early months of 2020. And it’s even more so today, as we deal with new variants that continue to bring difficulty and uncertainty to the system and its workers.
On top of that, compliance and regulatory obligations continue to evolve, placing even more stress on care providers. So, as we enter 2022, it’s a good time to reassess the situation, and ask some key questions. Specifically, what are the most important healthcare industry trends facing us in the new year? And what can healthcare leaders do to stay ahead of them?
Staying Ahead of the Ongoing Worker Shortage
The healthcare industry trend that’s top of mind for most leaders is the ongoing struggle to find and retain clinical workers. This holds true not only for hospitals and health centers, but also for SNFs and LTAC facilities, hospice care and home health providers, and many others. And the challenge is often even more pressing for schools, corrections centers, and other facilities that employ essential workers.
There’s no doubt that the pandemic has taken a huge toll on America’s nurses and clinicians. Many organizations are leveraging travel nurses and allied clinicians like never before to help fill in the gaps. This is a particularly useful option, especially for those operating in states that have adopted the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC/eNLC).
Yet an even more forward-thinking solution is the smart integration of contingency clinical workers across the board. Partnering with a contingency staffing provider means having access to not just travel workers but also a whole variety of per-diem nurses, interim staff leaders, part-time clinicians, and more, throughout the entire year — not just at the last minute, when it may be too late.
Meeting the Challenge of Crisis Staffing
As many leaders know all too well, the need for skilled workers can vary from month to month, week to week, even day to day. On top of the burnout and dropout of nurses and clinicians from the workforce, the pandemic has the power to overwhelm post-acute departments with little advance warning. Almost two years after Covid-19 hit American shores, we’re seeing this play out again with the Omicron surge.
In other words, even leaders who may not have an immediate need for skilled healthcare professionals today can benefit from having a backup plan in place for tomorrow. Even when Covid-19 passes into the endemic phase, posing a lower threat to ICU units, having access to a reserve network of acute-care professionals can help ensure that organizations are ready to cope with the next crisis.
Here too, the use of a contingency workforce provider can be a game-changer. Choosing a partner that offers comprehensive crisis response staffing solutions could make all the difference to an organization’s ability to ensure patient outcomes, safety, and overall efficiency even during the worst-case scenario — be it a pandemic, natural disaster, local staffing shortage, or other similar challenge.
Making Logistical Improvements to Meet Patient Expectations
In an effort to make pricing more transparent for consumers, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is now requiring hospitals to provide “clear, accessible” pricing information available to patients online. But even though this regulation went into effect in January 2021, as of July, more than 95% of all hospitals in the United States had yet to become fully compliant, according to HCPLive.
Meeting requirements like this may be a federally mandated necessity. But it’s also simply good for business. Healthcare has become more difficult for patients to navigate, and more intimidating too. At the same time, a more consumer-focused marketplace has contributed to rising expectations. And that extends to healthcare just as readily as any other consumer-facing business.
Workforce management solutions can help organizations stay on top of this challenge by optimizing and automating key processes like regulatory compliance, scheduling, customer-driven account management, resource optimization, and more. Doing so can help leaders not only better meet patient expectations, but also save money by driving operational efficiency and continuous improvement.
Shoring Up Cybersecurity
Protecting patient data has long been a priority for the healthcare industry. But it’s also been an elusive challenge for many facilities and provider groups. Thanks to the integration of electronic medical records over the past few decades, and complex HIPAA privacy requirements to go along with them, the job of keeping private health information (PHI) safe and secure isn’t as straightforward as it once was.
On top of the basic logistics of data security, hackers have become bolder and more sophisticated in recent years. High-profile data breaches now regularly happen across all business sectors, and healthcare is no exception. According to HealthcareITNews, more than 40 million individual patient health records were compromised in hacking incidents during 2021.
Beyond the legal liability of compromised PHI, these attacks can leave networks down for weeks. And that means disruption of care and damage to reputation at a time when many organizations can least afford it. But bringing older systems up to date with standards like HITRUST is no small task. It means ensuring compliance not just with internal systems, but across all technologies and vendors you use.
We’ll be offering more insights into cybersecurity data protection here at the CareerStaff Healthcare Staffing Blog in the weeks to come. In the meantime, providers looking for assistance shoring up their technical security may want to consider partnering with a provider of healthcare vendor management services (VMS) or managed services programs (MSP) to help tackle this important task.
CareerStaff Is Here to Help
Proven by decades of leadership in healthcare workforce management, CareerStaff Unlimited is your partner for staying on top of the biggest healthcare industry trends of 2022, and well beyond. From nurse staffing and recruitment to comprehensive healthcare MSP services, CareerStaff is standing by to offer the Joint Commission–Certified solutions that today’s leaders need to stay on top.