Healthcare facility staffing shortages are undermining patient care and creating burnout for overburdened staff. It’s not just clinical staff feeling the pinch of staff shortages. All areas, including revenue cycle management (RCM), are overwhelmed. Here are a few tips for addressing and overcoming these challenges.
Staffing difficulties amid other challenges
Healthcare is struggling in a post-pandemic world. Burnout among frontline healthcare workers is at an all-time high, while the demand for care is even higher. There simply aren’t enough qualified candidates to go around.
According to a 2021 MGMA survey, 75% of medical practices say staffing is their biggest challenge. It’s not just doctors and nurses, either; it’s everyone from coding and credentialing experts to administrative staff. Burnout is only one reason behind staffing challenges. As Baby Boomers near retirement age, fewer qualified replacements are entering the workforce. Those capable of filling positions are looking for higher pay, better benefits, and more control over their work-life balance.
Healthcare facilities must also contend with lingering pandemic considerations, making it more difficult to recruit and keep staff. COVID-19 is still making the rounds, and in the hypervigilant post-pandemic world, providers would rather see employees stay home than risk facility-wide illness. For employees with kids, this threat is doubly prevalent — all it takes is one sick classmate to put an entire home in quarantine.
These challenges are ever-present in any healthcare facility, and they’re straining systems and processes already under duress, with revenue cycle management chief among them.
Solutions for staffing challenges
According to the World Health Organization, the global health workforce is expected to have a shortfall of roughly 15 million workers by 2030. This figure is a glaring reminder for providers to maximize their staff and focus on solutions for retaining them. This will be critical for all facets of operation, including RCM.
Is your facility struggling to keep RCM consistent? Here are some tactics healthcare organizations are using to reduce the burden on their staff and restore consistency to their revenue stream:
- Automating low-level tasks lessens the monotony and low-grade stress often accompanying busywork. This also allows capable professionals to move upward into roles where their skills are better utilized.
- Work-life balance is a priority for employees, which means flexible schedules and ranked-choice scheduling should become standard for employers. It’s also wise to consider total rewards packages focusing heavily on PTO and pay.
- Cross-training staff exposes them to new skills and keeps them from enduring the monotony of day-to-day tasks. One example might be to train LPNs for administrative, RCM-focused tasks as a bridge to upward mobility.
- Renegotiate reimbursement payments to focus on the value of service rather than the volume of service. This also will align with a focus on the patient experience and outcomes-driven healthcare.
- Consolidate your revenue cycle vendors with an end-to-end platform. Using a single, seamless platform takes the frustration out of using multiple systems and leads to better system familiarity.
When it comes to revenue cycles, practices are readjusting perspectives to plan for future instability and unpredictability. Staffing shortages have already proven disruptive to cash flows. Now, as demand for care continues to tick upward, providers must consider their ability not only to address the demand but also to efficiently run their practice from an administrative standpoint.
Helpful tools and technologies
We’re living in the age of artificial intelligence (AI) at a time when emerging technologies can solve almost any challenge. When it comes to improving RCM in the face of staffing shortages, providers can turn to several useful technologies:
- Automation software can handle repetitive tasks with ease and without burnout.
- Computer-assisted coding can reduce claims errors and double-check manual coding.
- Machine learning platforms can examine claims for defects, flags, or issues.
- Intuitive AI training programs can quickly get new hires up to speed on practices.
- Data aggregation platforms and dashboards provide instant insight into reimbursements.
It’s time to start treating software as a workhorse and utilizing valuable personnel for their unique capabilities. What can software do to free up your staff so they can, in turn, do what software can’t?
Action leads to solutions
Staffing shortages won’t resolve themselves. Providers must recognize the challenges they are facing today and pivot to address them in ways beyond just trying (and failing) to hire from a nonexistent talent pool. Whether this means paving inroads into a long-term career with your organization or outsourcing RCM solutions to an established provider, now is the time to act.
Learn how you can overcome gaps in RCM staffing at trubridge.com.