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How to Manage Staff Shortages in Healthcare

Provider shortages are hitting hard across the United States. Physicians, nurses, and other clinicians are in high demand and low supply. It’s gotten so bad that some facilities have been forced to shut down entire departments because they don’t have the staff to keep them running. Others have had to limit the types of services they provide.

If your healthcare facility is feeling the burn of the nation-wide staff shortage, it can be overwhelming to try to brainstorm ways to mitigate the crisis. However, there are several important steps you can take to adapt to current conditions.

Here are 3 ways to handle staff shortages at your healthcare company:

1. Make it a group effort.  

Be as honest as you can be with your staff about the difficulties your facility is facing. You’re all in it together, after all, and teamwork can help you weather the storm more effectively. To make it worth their while and keep them motivated, offer training programs for staff to expand on their current skills. Also make sure to get together regularly to discuss organizational problems and brainstorm solutions. Taking their ideas into consideration will help them feel heard, and probably present you with solutions you hadn’t thought of.

2. Prioritize your employees. 

Reducing turnover is the first step to avoiding a critical staff shortage – and it starts with keeping your employees healthy and happy. To prevent burnout, keep a careful eye on the schedule and make sure shifts are being spread evenly. While some employees may be tempted to take on lots of extra shifts, sharing the burden is a smarter approach. Limit shifts to 12 hours if possible, and make sure everyone has 8 to 12 uninterrupted hours time off between shifts.

Most importantly, check in with your staff and keep an eye on those you think are struggling. You may even want to offer stress management solutions – like a class or seminar – to teach employees healthy ways to cope with stress.

3. Upgrade your tech. 

Telemedicine is becoming more and more common in healthcare, and for good reason. It can save your facility major time by allowing staff to treat non-acute patients from their homes – so critical patients can get on-site care more quickly.

Explore other technologies to help you save time and streamline workflow. There are digital tools that can help with monotonous, time-consuming tasks like patient data management, medical record updates, prescriptions, and billing. You may also want to consider investing in wearable devices to monitor patients from their homes, which can help them avoid unnecessary trips to your facility.

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