Two Ways to Address Today's Labor Shortage

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There's no doubt that labor shortages are among the biggest challenges facing health care leaders. Hospital CEOs cite staffing as their number one concern.1 

A recent survey found that 55% of hospital purchasing leaders say personnel shortages are a significant challenge, with 38% stating that staffing is an investment priority.2 In anesthesiology, job openings in the last year spiked 70% for nurse anesthetists and 57% for anesthesiologists.1 And nearly half of health care revenue cycle leaders also say their departments are facing severe labor shortages1.

Why Is This Happening? 

Pandemic burnout and the ease of moving from one hospital to another are two of the main causes.4 When people leave, it puts an extra workload on staff who are still there. Inflation, housing, childcare, and transportation.4

With population growth at its lowest in history5, many experts believe worker shortages will be a long-term problem.  A recent study projects that the U.S. will face significant health care worker shortages in the coming decade.6 One reason is our aging population, with people in the Baby Boomer demographic requiring more medical care, often from specialists. Overall, people are also living longer and developing chronic conditions that need to be treated as they age.6  

With the over-65 population growing by 48% in the next 10 years, many physicians now working will be reaching retirement age. In fact, the American Association of Medical Colleges estimates a shortage of 122,000 physicians by 2032.6 The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the demand for qualified nurses will increase much faster than the need for all professionals in the coming decade.5 And that's the tip of the iceberg in terms of health care staffing shortages. 

How Do We Address the Problem?

Hospitals are dealing with shortages in a number of ways. Many are offering increased compensation and signing bonuses to registered nurses, as well as filling in with contract traveling nurses.7 For physicians, hospitals often provide signing bonuses, flexible hours, and even assist with finding employment for a partner or spouse7

Recent research shows that a patient-centered environment is important to both nurses and physicians.7 They want to focus on patient care without being overloaded with manual tasks.  

Here are two examples of solutions that are now available to help maximize labor resources, minimize tedious tasks, free up staff time to be more efficient -- and at the same time lower costs: 

1. Bypassing the Dock & Decreasing Labor

Solutions that use logical unit of measure (LUM) can help you achieve the right level of inventory to support patient care, exactly when and where you need it. You will reduce expenses and save valuable staff time by having orders picked, packed, and delivered straight to a department or point-of-use.

Your labor resources are maximized so staff spend more time on higher-value activities across more departments. Fewer orders will flow through bulk storage locations, requiring less labor. All this minimizes the time your staff spends on ordering products, putting away and chasing down supplies in case of stockouts. Product expiration and obsolescence can even be monitored for you.

Employing LUM solutions dramatically reduces the space required for inventory, plus it reduces the time and effort required to manage it. The result: less stress for staff and greater efficiency.

2. Taking Supply Chain Efficiency to the Next Level 

Purchasing directly from multiple vendors can result in added cost, complexity, freight charges, and labor. Many vendors have purchase and order level requirements in place for direct deliveries. It can cost up to 50% more and can take longer to place and receive direct-buy orders versus ordering from a distributor.8

With a program that strategically consolidates purchasing, you can bring many of your direct-from-vendor purchases through one distribution channel. You’ll place more orders through EDI, saving time and money on procurement processes and giving your staff more time to focus on supporting quality care. 

The Takeaway

These two innovative solutions show that today's health care shortage can be addressed in creative ways that go beyond compensation and signing bonuses to accomplish a very real priority for hospital staff: less time on manual tasks and more time for patient care.




2 Survey conducted by Owens & Minor






8 HIDA Hospital Procurement Study 2012



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