Ghx Survey Shows Senior Healthcare Leaders Most Concerned About Staff Burnout and Workforce Shortages

Organizations are Leveraging Technology, Rewards and Recognition Programs and Improving Benefits to Combat Challenges

A new survey conducted by Global Healthcare Exchange (GHX) found that senior healthcare leaders in the U.S. are most concerned about staff burnout and labor shortages when it comes to current workforce challenges. To address these issues, 80% of respondents indicated that increasing automation to reduce manual labor is a key strategy for their organization.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s estimated that the healthcare industry has lost 20 to 30 percent of its workforce. As a result, one in four hospitals in the U.S. anticipate critical staffing shortages according to HHS data from January 2022. Clinicians as well as non-clinical healthcare professionals across financial and operational departments cite exhaustion and burnout as reasons for voluntarily leaving the workforce.

Other workforce issues that are top of mind for healthcare executives include:

  • Cost and time associated with recruiting and training new talent
  • Wage price wars
  • Ability to adapt to new operating models (change management)
  • Loss of talent to other industries (e.g., Big Tech)
  • Development of new skills required to move to value-based care (e.g., data analytics, complex logistics)
  • Engaging remote staff

“Not only does automating processes help alleviate the burden of a short-staffed healthcare organization, but it can also improve the work experience,” said Karen Conway, vice president, Healthcare Value, GHX and moderator of the Executive Roundtable session at Summit 2022. “For example, automating evidence-driven tasks such as scheduling follow up appointments for patients after discharge can both improve outcomes and increase efficiency and productivity, allowing employees to focus on more value-driven tasks.”

The survey also found that more than half of respondents are implementing initiatives aimed at improving the workplace experience for staff, including rewards and recognition programs, diversity and equity initiatives, improved benefits programs and providing greater access to behavioral health resources.

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Key Takeaways from the Executive Roundtable Discussion
GHX hosted an executive roundtable discussion at its annual Summit in Hollywood, Florida on May 11, 2022, using the results from this survey to guide the conversation. More than 30 leaders from provider and supplier organizations joined Dr. Melody Vanoy, vice president of Diversity & Inclusion at GHX, and Ginny Clark, a holistic leadership strategist and former Director of Executive Recruiting at Google, to discuss the myriad issues impacting the workforce and generate ideas on how to solve them. Key takeaways from the discussion include:

  • Increasing automation will help organizations maximize efficiency and lower costs at a time when hospitals and health systems are challenged to do more with less.
  • The industry needs to ensure that technology is truly enabling people to work more efficiently and reduce the number of problems that require time-consuming workarounds.
  • Support for diversity of thought is a strategic asset for many organizations. In addition to diverse hiring practices, having employees spend time in other departments can give them a new perspective on their work and help them connect the dots of the full healthcare experience.
  • Fundamentals matter. Higher staff turnover rates highlight the importance of having processes in place to guide the work and reduce the potential for burnout among new employees.
  • Ensuring employees feel connected to and are actively engaged with their work is an important step in increasing overall job satisfaction and retention. Some examples include asking supply chain applicants the right questions in interviews to understand their motivations for working in mission-driven organizations, as well as bringing veteran employees into the onboarding process to share collective wisdom and insights on how the supply chain connects to all other functions in the organization.

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“If healthcare is to become more resilient in the face of increased workplace challenges, providers and suppliers must continue to collaborate and share knowledge freely and often,” Conway continued. “Leveraging technology to enable more real-time, secure and standardized communications across functions and even between organizations can eliminate unnecessary, time-consuming work and free up time to spend with patients, creating a pathway to more affordable and quality healthcare.”

“In my department, we don’t expect our labor challenges to end any time soon, if at all,” said Laura Kowalczyk, vice president Supply Chain and Support Services at UAB Medicine and a participant in the GHX survey. “That’s why we are looking at options to streamline processes, upgrade to more efficient equipment, limit services and use more advanced technology such as robots, artificial intelligence and apps to provide more efficient, direct services and real-time feedback to patients.”

GHX conducted the survey online between February 23 and April 19, 20222. Respondents included 20 senior healthcare executives, including C-suite members, working across supply chain, operations and finance and predominantly serving medium and large urban health systems, academic medical centers and shared service organizations. The survey served as a precursor to an invite-only executive roundtable session at GHX’s 22nd Annual Summit, held last week in Hollywood, Florida.

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