Hospitals implement retention strategies to stave off staffing shortages

Almost all respondents report raising wages to boost retention, according to a Kaufmann Hall report.

Hospitals and health systems are boosting retention efforts, according to Kaufman Hall’s 2022 Healthcare Performance Improvement Report. With stiff competition for candidates, 100% of respondents say they have adopted some type of recruitment and retention strategy, with 98% reporting raising starting salaries or minimum wage, and 67% seeing wage increases of more than 10% for clinical staff.

“Long-term staffing shortages create bottlenecks in patient care and increase inpatient length of stay, leading to higher costs and poorer outcomes,” said Kaufman Hall Managing Director Lance Robinson, leader of the firm’s performance improvement practice, in a statement. “For the rest of 2022 and beyond, hospitals and health systems need to prioritize building out retention strategies and transitioning away from unsustainable levels of contract labor to more stable staffing.”

Kaufman Hall experts say that the pandemic may be a turning point for health care and pre-pandemic patient volumes may never return. Innovations in care that have emerged and been refined over the past two years have only accelerated the larger trend of patients preferring to receive care in outpatient centers, online, or in the comfort and convenience of their homes.

“Healthcare leaders must navigate short-term challenges that continue to pressure revenue and expenses, while also adapting organizational strategy to match larger transformations in the way care is delivered,” said Robinson.

In addition to retention efforts, 46% identified labor costs as their greatest opportunity for cost reductions, compared to 17% who said that last year. The workforce crisis extends to performance on volume and revenue, with two-thirds of respondents indicating that staffing shortages required them to run at less than full capacity over the past year.

Supply chain issues are also continuing, with 71% reporting distribution delays.

The only area that showed significant volume improvement over last year’s survey was oncology, with 40% of respondents saying that volumes were at 100% or more of pre-pandemic levels.

The report is based on survey responses from 86 hospital and health system leaders nationwide, including representatives from all regions of the country as well as from urban, suburban, and rural markets.

This article originally appeared on Medical Economics®.

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