4 Healthcare Workforce Trends Impacting the Patient Experience

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Patient experience (PX) is at the heart of success for most healthcare organizations. Value-based care depends on it, as do other important indicators like employee retention and long-term financial viability. And, while improving PX is a different task for every provider, leaders can help nurture it with the right response to some current healthcare workforce trends.

With Patient Experience Week 2022, which kicked off on April 25th, it’s a great time to take a closer look at these critical healthcare workforce trends. What should leaders understand about these challenges, and how can they respond in a way that bolsters the patient experience? Here’s what you should know.

4 Healthcare Workforce Trends Impacting the Patient Experience

Healthcare Workforce Trend #1: Burnout

Stress in the clinical workplace has long been a concern for leaders. In recent years though, the rates of burnout and fatigue among clinical workers have steadily increased — and have spiked even higher during Covid-19. With long shifts, stressful situations, and difficult conditions, the rigors of today’s healthcare workplace are leading to low morale, high turnover, and a general shortage of workers.

All of those factors, of course, can seriously affect the patient experience. For that reason, leaders should re-evaluate their efforts to fight burnout and compassion fatigue, and make any appropriate course corrections. That usually means taking concrete steps like offering counseling and support services, promoting care, as well as a few other methods.

> What can leaders do? If you haven’t done so, it’s time to implement our 7 tips for fighting burnout and compassion fatigue.

Healthcare Workforce Trend #2: Digital Transformation

Digital transformation has been going on for decades. Indeed, it’s literally a never-ending process, requiring continuous investment in newer, better, more secure processes and infrastructure. As Becker’s Hospital Review points out, a HIMSS report showed that a whopping 76 percent of U.S. healthcare leaders still consider digital transformation investment to be “very important.”

But dealing with this new technology isn’t usually within the comfort zone for many clinical workers. Resistance to adapting to EHR has long been a challenge in the healthcare workforce. As the technology continues to advance and evolve, the gap between worker knowledge and IT best practices grows, too, becoming even more of a threat to the patient experience.

On top of it all, the difficulty some workers have with technology is actually contributing to the stress and burnout cited above. Covering HIMS22, HealthLeaders Media’s Eric Wicklund points out that “clinicians are feeling stressed because they’re being overwhelmed with data — and again, the blame lies with technology, which allows access to so much unstructured information.”

> What can leaders do? The solution to this challenge may require a greater focus on “change management than change itself,” as Wicklund describes the expert view at HIMS22. This may require investing in resources to give workers “more time to absorb and master the technology they’ll be using to care for patients, as well as better access to resources and their colleagues.”  

In other words, leaders should “prioritize tools and processes that sort through the data and give clinicians what they need, rather than forcing clinicians to do that work,” Wicklund writes. “That means carving out specific time for training, separate from patient care but not added to the workload, so that clinicians can understand how the technology improves caregiving.”

Healthcare Workforce Trend #3: Cybersecurity

Data security is a major challenge for healthcare organizations today, with attacks intensifying every year. In fact, the healthcare industry is at a significantly higher risk than others because of the uniquely high value of medical data, whether it’s sensitive patient data or intellectual property like vaccine info. For that reason, cybersecurity is already a top concern for many leaders.

What isn’t always appreciated is the extent to which effective cybersecurity is also a workforce challenge. Creating and maintaining effective security requires not just technical considerations but also cultural changes that extend from the leaders throughout the organization. Each worker who accesses patient data, and even some who don’t, must be included, trained, and actively assisted.

> What can leaders do? Experts advise a series of workforce adjustments to boost cybersecurity, including regular staff education and training, and the implementation of access controls. Get a more detailed look at how to make sure your workers are aligned with cybersecurity here.

Healthcare Workforce Trend #4: Worker Shortages

Across the country, the shortage of nurses and other essential workers is seriously jeopardizing many organizations’ ability to provide quality patient care. And, just as with many of these other healthcare workforce trends, Covid-19 has only intensified the problem. The pandemic has been linked not only to higher levels of burnout but also to an increased likelihood of workers leaving the profession entirely.

> What can leaders do? You can help prepare your facility against worker shortages by partnering with a nationwide healthcare staffing provider. Choosing a partner that offers a premium network of contingency workers like travel and per diem nurses will not only help you stay fully staffed but could also help offset staff burnout by bringing in additional workers to help alleviate the workload.

CareerStaff is a nationwide healthcare workforce solutions and staffing company that places nurses and clinicians in the healthcare facilities that need them most. If you’re interested in learning how our staffing services can help you offset the risk of shortages, or help improve the workplace in other ways, we’re standing by to help! Contact us today to connect with a CareerStaff recruitment expert.

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