Healthcare professionals have been on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, heroically facing a multi-year public health crisis that went beyond what anyone could expect.
Burnout has significantly increased during the course of the pandemic, and approximately one in five healthcare workers have decided to quit their jobs.
Due to a decreased workforce, the challenges plaguing the healthcare field can seem daunting. Recruiting and retaining staff has become difficult, and the expansion of telehealth has to be managed.
With those things in mind, let’s take a look at some of the challenges your healthcare workers may face, and talk about some of the ways you can tackle them in 2022.
Challenge #1: Staff recovery from the pandemic
Healthcare professionals of all types are physically and mentally exhausted from the pandemic. Some experts have even dubbed their condition as a type of post-traumatic stress disorder caused by an overload of patients, high death rates, personal danger, and ever-shifting safety guidelines.
Helping staff recover will require wellness programs for your staff, which includes offering mental health resources, better safety and security measures, and more staff-friendly scheduling. You can simplify your wellness efforts by using wellness software or a variety of software that can help with anything from sleep issues to job-sharing schedules.
Challenge #2: Employee retention
During the pandemic, one in five healthcare workers quit their jobs, and these figures do not just apply to physicians. In fact, 67% of non-physician workers have experienced burnout due to the pandemic, and nearly half of that number report that six to ten coworkers have quit for reasons related to the pandemic.
However, it’s important to note that many of these workers did not entirely leave their profession, but simply moved to another facility. This trend is especially true of nursing home workers who suffered greatly during the crisis. Still, healthcare workers have decreased by 2.7% since February of 2020, which is not an insignificant number. And over half of physicians and therapists have contemplated retiring early or changing careers due to pandemic burnout. According to this physician burnout survey, the two most frequent symptoms of burnout seen in doctors were changes in sleep patterns, difficulty sleeping, and emotional exhaustion.
In addition to dealing with burnout, healthcare professionals for small to midsize practices will face more competition for hiring and retaining doctors, nurses, and other employees due to in-store clinics at places like CVS, Walgreens, or Walmart. You will be paying more for salaries, benefits, and other perks requested by in-demand primary care physicians and other clinicians.
Meeting this challenge will require focusing more on the needs of employees and offering support in all life areas. While competitive salaries are an important component, it is not the only thing that will attract and retain top workers. You will need to create and maintain a healthy workplace culture that focuses on worker community and patient care. One idea is to implement an employee reward platform which can help you celebrate employee milestones and keep your staff feeling valued.
Challenge #3: Telehealth expansion
Telehealth is one of the brightest stars during the pandemic. The expansion of these services allows patients to receive the routine care they need from the safety of their own homes. In fact, during the last few years, the percentage of telehealth users has grown from 11% to 46%.
Patients who had never considered the benefits of telehealth before have eagerly embraced the service. Telehealth has proven to be a saving grace for the elderly and those living in isolated areas, allowing their physicians to manage some of their conditions from afar.
Healthcare professionals need to be prepared for a long-term increase in the use of telehealth. That means appropriately training staff to deliver these services in a professional and regulatory-compliant way. You will also need to provide the right kind of equipment and environment for delivering this care. Special EHR systems for telehealth will significantly simplify this process.
How to meet the challenges of 2022
While 2022 offers some new difficulties, you will be able to handle them by using the lessons you’ve already learned in recent years, particularly when it comes to telehealth. You will need to be able to embrace change while also focusing on employee wellness to rejuvenate and retain your staff.
Healthcare professionals need time and resources to recover from the pandemic and the normal stressors of the healthcare industry. They also need to be rewarded for their efforts with fair salaries and benefits. If you don’t offer an attractive enough package, you will be unable to hire essential personnel. Remember, someone has to take care of the caregivers. If you overcome these challenges, you are well on your way to a successful 2022.