The healthcare staffing crisis has ramped up across the globe, and clinics are feeling the pain. With rapid burnout, poor accessibility to proper training and education, and more issues steadily coming under fire, modern healthcare is facing crises of unprecedented proportions as they try to find solutions. But solutions take time, and patients and current staff are already feeling the heat. Luckily, digital innovations in telemedicine and remote work capability are helping to relieve some of the stress.
The Healthcare Staffing Crisis in Summary
Unless you’re unfamiliar with the field or have been working in areas where it can be difficult to access new information, you’re fully aware there is a shortage of nurses and other staffing issues in medical fields. Practices, hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes are all feeling the pressure as they attempt to keep up with demand and avoid burnout themselves. Numerous issues are leading to the shortage, from post-pandemic burnout to a lack of wage and benefit increases and difficulty accessing quality education without going into massive amounts of debt.
As the current workforce steadily ages, the medical field is having trouble bringing in new healthcare workers— whether to fill openings left by retiring personnel or to fill new positions in areas that haven’t had great access to healthcare.
Several suggestions and potential fixes are being investigated across the field, but that doesn’t help the areas that are struggling now. Luckily for areas struggling with healthcare staffing, there has been a lot of innovation in the field to help ease some of the burdens on current staff. From new machine-learning AI that can detect patterns in genes and symptoms to help with diagnostics to better home healthcare solutions, these innovations are already accessible to practices, clinics, and hospitals. Two of the biggest game changers so far have been the adaptations for telehealth and remote work and the development of specialized nationwide staffing agencies.
The Benefits of Working with a Healthcare Staffing Agency
In the past, staffing agencies were a bit of a catch-all. While you could find some that specialized in filling particular job descriptions, most focused on connecting employers of multiple industries to potential employees. Now, healthcare staffing agencies are working to bring healthcare professionals and providers together in one easy-to-navigate space. With specialized staffing agencies, you find staff that is more familiar with the requirements, certifications, and licensing needed throughout the different healthcare professions. Clinics and other employers now have access to a nationwide pool of qualified candidates and vice versa.
A healthcare staffing agency relies on providing good service and good matches to stay in business, so your practice can trust that they have put substantial effort into vetting candidates and confirming certifications. They can also provide onboarding and payroll solutions. Working with a staffing agency helps free up your administrative team to work on other tasks and helps fill staffing gaps left by the current shortage. Candidates can search for their job by location and job title and can even find remote work.
The Advent of Telehealth and Remote Work
Telehealth had been slowly growing in popularity before the pandemic, but COVID-19 saw a massive increase in availability and capability. Now you have remote positions that bring specialist expertise to dozens of practices without having to travel.
Originally, telehealth primarily focused on nursing and mental health assistance lines. If your child had a fever but didn’t necessarily need a doctor’s visit, a nurse through your insurance company could give advice on what to watch for and when to go see a doctor. Now, you can have a video or telephone appointment to speak with your provider, go over test results, and more. While telehealth doesn’t work for all conditions all the time, it lets the practice triage who needs an appointment and who just needs a conversation and perhaps a prescription. This cuts back on time spent traveling for the patient, as well as office and room use for the practice. It also makes healthcare providers’ schedules more efficient.
With the shutdown requirements and massive spread of the coronavirus, clinics and practices needed every available procedure to cut back on risk-– for staff and for patients. Telehealth and remote testing facilities were a massive relief for smaller clinics and practices that helped them keep up with increasing demand as emergency clinics and hospitals breached capacity and couldn’t take on extra patients. With the overall benefits of telehealth, more software solutions became available to allow clinics to offer these services without requiring doctors to give out personal cellphone numbers. Many clinics invested in built-in telehealth services for their client portals, so they had more control over data security than if they used a more public platform.
The Importance of Continuing Innovation in Healthcare
The healthcare industry learned a lot from the pandemic. One of the largest lessons, however, was that innovation should never stop. We need to be prepared for the next crisis but also the next mundane need. Clinics, nursing homes, hospitals— any place that provides healthcare can benefit from the latest and greatest, but someone needs to identify current problems and work on solutions.
In the face of the current staffing crisis, there is too much to address for there to be an easy fix.
But keeping up with digital tools and other healthcare innovations can reduce the overbearing workload for current staffers, no matter their position. It’s not a cure to the crisis, but it’s relief. It’s a way to ensure quality healthcare for all patients and reduce the potential for medical malpractice due to overstressed staff.