It's no secret that the healthcare industry experienced unforeseen challenges that have driven innovation and adaptation in order to survive. Medical facilities have altered procedures and created new policies in order to accommodate massive influxes of patients and improve patient outcomes — but it certainly hasn't been easy, and there are still some common pain points that many organizations still deal with.
Here we'll discuss the top healthcare issues facing hospitals as we head into 2024.
1. Healthcare Finance Challenges
Hospitals and other healthcare organizations cite financial issues as one of the most significant challenges that they face. This is due to a number of reasons:
- Cost increases: A recent analysis from PwC's Health Research Institute found that the costs of treating patients is on the rise, thus eroding profit margins. Overall costs are expected to rise around 7% in 2024 due to continued labor shortages, drug price increases, and new provider contracts. Additionally, inflation is playing a major role in these increased costs, causing pharmaceutical prices to skyrocket. The total cost of care management is expected to increase as well.
- Lack of relief funding: During the COVID-19 pandemic, federal relief funding helped many healthcare organizations offset the rising costs. However, such relief is no longer available in the post-COVID era, despite the fact that the issues that plagued the industry still exist today.
- Non-emergency procedures: In order to conserve personal protective equipment (PPE) and provide quality care to the influx of patients, many healthcare systems and local governments postponed elective and non-emergency medical procedures, which resulted in estimated losses of $16.3 to $17.7 billion per month.
- Drug prices: Nearly every type of supply chain is still in recovery, so it comes as no surprise that certain operating costs have increased. Drug expenses per discharge have increased by an average of around 36% year over year, according to a Kaufman Hall report.
- Expenses outpace revenue: According to a recent report "despite increased productivity and revenues in the first quarter of 2023, there was a 12% year-over-year increase in median investment/subsidy per provider FTE to $236,842—representing an increase twice the rate of inflation."
Each of these factors is enough to cause some worry, but medical facilities have been dealing with all of these issues (and more) at the same time.
HWL has been the go-to partner for healthcare organizations across the US when they need to contain costs. Our create-your-own internal agency program has helped reduce costs by 10-15% for a number of facilities. Find out how we can help you by getting in touch today.
2. Employee Burnout and Personnel Shortages
The most significant issues in healthcare that hospitals and other organizations have dealt with over the past few years is employee burnout and overall personnel shortages. Unfortunately, these issues persist even now and are expected to be a proverbial thorn in the side of healthcare organizations through 2024, particularly when it comes to nursing staff. Nursing staff continue to be in high demand, yet candidates seem to be increasingly rare. An article published by NPR in May of 2023 found "nearly one-third of nurses nationwide say they are likely to leave the profession."
There are numerous reasons why nursing staff has been in short supply:
- COVID-19 numbers: Despite the pandemic having been discussed ad nauseam, we cannot ignore the lasting damage that it caused. Staff shortages coincided with spikes in COVID cases, especially when a new variant was discovered. For instance, when the Omicron variant gained traction, case numbers and hospitalizations set new records, which further stressed staff and led to more resignations. While in the post-COVID era these numbers have stabilized, the impact is still felt and the industry hasn't fully recovered.
- Turnover contagion: Even if just one or two employees resign, their peers will have to fill in the gaps and take on their duties. This, in turn, increases the chances that they will burn out quicker and resign, creating a sort of domino effect. This phenomenon, recently coined 'turnover contagion', has been particularly prevalent as of late.
To mitigate these pain points, HWL vendor management service model helps healthcare organizations access the reliable talent they need at competitive, yet affordable, rates. Through contract management, interview and screening services, onboarding, and more, HWL will help you each step of the way.
3. Patient Safety and Quality of Care
Patient safety and quality of care are always some of the top priorities for healthcare leadership. In an effort to retain positive patient outcomes while minimizing the impact of staffing shortages, many systems have turned to digitizing at-home care. And while this certainly has benefits, it also has some hefty up-front costs. Many organizations have found a convenient model of care that includes remote/digital capabilities to have significant investment. Infrastructural investments continue to eat up overhead costs in the short-term. PwC estimates that dozens of health systems have invested over $2.5 billion in remote monitoring alongside another $1 billion in digital and cybersecurity infrastructure upgrades. While certainly a smart move for the future, it's important to recognize the upfront costs these innovations carry.
To combat any deficiencies in patient care or wellbeing, HWL has you covered. We offer full-service clinical interviewing and screening to determine the skills required, cultural fit, experience, etc. for the staff to be successful, as well as to ensure high-quality patient outcomes.
From here, HWL will develop screening tools, interview candidates, and confirm the assignments. To learn more about this process, get in touch with us today.
HWL is Here to Help
HWL has helped countless healthcare organizations contain their costs and find the talent they need to succeed during difficult times. We provide a program that gives you access to the entire market and the ability to negotiate rates freely so you retain control over costs.
To learn more, get in touch today.