Healthcare News & Insights

The future of hospital staffing: Who will you need to hire?

A major concern for hospitals going forward is staffing. In the face of changing dynamics in the U.S. brought on by healthcare reform, the types of professionals employed by hospitals – and the skillsets they possess – need to adapt to meet these challenges.

154050495But which types of professionals will best meet these staffing needs?

As written in an article in U.S News and World Report, just a few short years ago, hospitals were looking to employ cardiologists, radiologists and anesthesiologists. In a fee-for-service system, these were the specialties that gave hospitals the most bang for their buck.

However, with the shift toward alternative reimbursement models, it’s no longer wise to bolster the bottom line with these specialists. Instead, the most forward-thinking hospitals are basing their hiring decisions around value-based care models, and they’re bringing in staff that can provide patients with more preventive care.

As time passes, more and more insurance providers are making hospitals responsible for patients’ care even after their stays are over. And failing to meet these requirements comes with financial penalties.

Smartest staffing choices

So to meet these objectives and avoid financial losses, many hospitals are employing primary care physicians to allow for easier care coordination upon their discharge, U.S News and World Report states. This helps patients receive consistent care from their admission through the post-discharge period.

To further improve care, instead of having doctors from outside practices come in for rounds, these hospitals are keeping more hospitalists on staff to meet patients’ needs. This ensures patients will see the same doctors for the duration of their stay, cutting down on any issues caused by unfamiliar staff treating patients.

Because care coordination is the key focus for these hospitals, they’re also hiring other professionals besides hospitalists to help patients receive consistent care, including care coordinators, patient navigators, physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners. These professionals help patients understand their treatment options and provide them with more personalized care.

Along with bringing in new types staffers who can bolster the value of your hospital’s care, you’ll also need to look at increasing the number of professionals you already employ.

Much attention’s been given to nursing shortages, but here are two categories of staffers whose numbers may not be adequate enough to meet future demands, per the U.S. News and World Report article:

  • Emergency room physicians. Expanded insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act will increase the number of patients who visit the ER. And due to expanded primary care benefits, they likely won’t be coming in for simple illnesses like the flu. So more emergency room physicians experienced in treating life-threatening conditions will be necessary to handle the patient influx.
  • IT professionals. Between increased mandates from the government for hospitals to adapt electronic medical records systems, and the upcoming switch to ICD-10, hospitals will need more tech professionals who can effectively implement and maintain the upgrades needed for these initiatives.

Training current staff

If your hospital doesn’t have the resources to hire that many new people, there’s good news: Successful results can achieved by training the staff you have. Example: According to the U.S. News and World Report article, Scripps Health in San Diego saved $200 million in three years by retraining staff and examining its care process to eliminate redundancies and inefficiencies.

This proves that it’s cost effective for hospitals to train their existing staff members to perform new functions, from being patient advocates to giving patients detailed instructions for medication use post-discharge. Dividing these new tasks among staffers based on their current roles may be the best compromise to adapting to new value-based care standards.

Tweaking the current training process to include these initiatives can pay off dramatically if done well. Working closely with your current staff is the best way to put these changes in place. It’s likely the physicians and nurses you have now will be able to point out any gaps you have in your current care methodology. And with their input, you can come up with training and staffing solutions that will suit your hospital.

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