Healthcare professionals have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, heroically dealing with a years-long public health crisis that has gone beyond anyone’s expectations.
Burnout has increased dramatically during the pandemic, and around one in five healthcare workers have decided to quit their job.
Due to a shrinking workforce, the challenges plaguing the healthcare field can seem daunting. Staff recruitment and retention has become difficult and the expansion of telehealth must be managed.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the challenges your healthcare workers might face and talk about some of the ways you can address them in 2022.
Challenge #1: Staff recovery after the pandemic
Healthcare professionals of all types are physically and mentally exhausted by the pandemic. Some experts have even called their condition a type of post-traumatic stress disorder caused by patient overload, high death rates, personal danger and ever-changing safety guidelines.
Helping staff recover will require wellness programs for your staff, which includes providing mental health resources, better safety and security measures and more staff-friendly hours. You can simplify your wellness efforts by using wellness software or a variety of software that can help you with everything from sleep issues to work-sharing schedules.
Challenge #2: Employee Retention
During the pandemic, one in five healthcare workers quit their job, and those numbers don’t just apply to doctors. In fact, 67% of non-physician workers have experienced burnout due to the pandemic, and nearly half of that number say six to 10 co-workers quit for pandemic-related reasons.
However, it is important to note that many of these workers did not leave their profession entirely, but simply moved to another establishment. This trend is particularly true for nursing home workers who have suffered greatly during the crisis. Yet healthcare workers have shrunk by 2.7% since February 2020, which is not a negligible number. And more than half of physicians and therapists have considered retiring early or changing careers due to burnout. According to this physician burnout survey, the two most common symptoms of physician burnout observed among physicians were changes in sleep patterns, sleep disturbances, and emotional exhaustion.
In addition to facing burnout, health professionals in small and medium-sized businesses will face increased competition for hiring and retaining doctors, nurses and other employees due to clinics in shop at places like CVS, Walgreens or Walmart. You’ll pay more for salaries, benefits, and other perks demanded by primary care physicians and other in-demand clinicians.
Meeting this challenge will require focusing more on employee needs and offering support in all areas of life. Although competitive salaries are an important element, it is not the only thing that will attract and retain the best workers. You will need to create and maintain a healthy workplace culture focused on worker community and patient care. One idea is to set up an employee rewards platform that can help you celebrate employee milestones and make your staff feel valued.
Challenge #3: Expansion of telehealth
Telehealth is one of the brightest stars of the pandemic. The expansion of these services allows patients to receive the routine care they need from the safety of their homes. Indeed, in recent years, the percentage of telehealth users has increased from 11% to 46%.
Patients who had never considered the benefits of telehealth before have enthusiastically embraced the service. Telehealth has proven to be a saving grace for the elderly and those living in remote areas, allowing their doctors to manage some of their conditions remotely.
Healthcare professionals need to be prepared for a long-term increase in the use of telehealth. This means training staff appropriately to provide these services professionally and in compliance with regulations. You will also need to provide the right kind of equipment and environment to provide this care. Special EHR systems for telehealth will greatly simplify this process.
How to meet the challenges of 2022
If 2022 offers new difficulties, you will be able to overcome them by drawing on the lessons you have already learned in recent years, particularly in terms of telehealth. You will need to be able to embrace change while focusing on employee well-being to rejuvenate and retain your staff.
Healthcare professionals need time and resources to recover from the pandemic and normal healthcare sector stressors. They must also be rewarded for their efforts with fair wages and benefits. If you don’t offer a sufficiently attractive package, you won’t be able to hire the necessary staff. Remember that someone has to take care of the caregivers. If you overcome these challenges, you are well on your way to a successful 2022.
For more information on healthcare challenges, check out these additional resources: