The shortage of nurses arose long before the peak of the pandemic. But now, the impact on hospital systems and their employees is more dire than ever.
Nurses and physicians alike continue to shoulder the emotional burden that comes with the surges of the pandemic, which has led to world-wide burnout and increased fluidity between healthcare careers.
Statnews.com says that, “before the pandemic, one-third of nurses reported burnout, and the turnover was about 17% per year. Since the emergence of COVID-19, burnout has hovered around 50% among nurses while turnover rates have risen between 20% and 30%.”
For example, the profession of travel nursing has boomed as nurses seek out better pay and reasonable shift expectations.
This turnover directly influences hospital systems’ bottom line - costing them millions as they scramble to fill staffing gaps and maintain patient outcomes.
What’s the solution?
Hospital systems can help combat these financial and physical strains by leaning into data-informed care and investing in their employee’s well-being.
Here are some examples.
Focus on Throughput
Efficiency is key to reducing the strain on hospital staff, and this is driven by data-informed decisions.
Hospital systems that invest in technology and processes that support and ensure an appropriate patient length of stay will reap the benefits – both economically and through employee satisfaction and retention.
Better patient outcomes through efficient care means less stress on staff when it comes to the sheer quantity of patients. When nurses and physicians are able to work reasonable hours, the cost of hiring locum staff, as well as the contribution to burnout, diminishes significantly.
Optimize Resource Utilization
Efficiency of patient throughput bleeds into resource utilization.
When health decisions are not data-informed, patient length of stay is a gamble, and hospital systems misuse their valuable resources and energy with inefficient care.
Insightful data leads to effective care, quality, and cost containment for both the hospital and the patients. This contributes to less unnecessary costs, such as testing and medicating, as well as fair shift expectations for physicians as patients move effectively through their care continuum – improving the financial stability of the hospital system.
Invest in Burnout Reduction
Improving the efficiency of patient care is an essential asset to reducing staff burnout and increasing employee retention rates.
Reducing the load of - and increasing the quality of care for - patients allows for staff to adequately recover.
“Preventing the stress-related turnover of just a few nurses or physicians more than covers the annual cost of well-being initiatives across the entire organization.” (news.virginia.edu)
In turn, time for recovery leads to increased retention - minimizing the cost and lack of team consistency from hiring locum staff.
Statnews.com says that, “in a modeling study [I] conducted with several colleagues at the University of Virginia, we determined that hospitals that invest in burnout reduction programs — everything from safe staffing to well-being initiatives to meaningful raises and bonuses and clear lines for professional mobility — spend about 30% less on burnout-related costs. And new nurses who work at such burnout-savvy hospitals tend to stay at their jobs about 20% longer.”
Hospital systems are able to lower cost while improving quality when they invest in their people and processes first.
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