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5 Strategies for Mitigating Staff Shortages in Healthcare

By Planet DDS
October 6, 2021

By Dr. Greg Grillo

We’re living in extraordinary times with new challenges arriving at a dizzying pace. As a practice owner for over 22 years, I’ve used a CEO mindset to create a brand known for excellence. Along the way, I planned for scenarios that seemed improbable. Some materialized, and some did not. But somehow, I missed the one about a cyclic pandemic. I also missed the list of ramifications flowing from this scenario that blindsided us. And now, staff shortages present a genuine concern for every business owner. If we have a full staff of healthcare professionals, we’re concerned about what happens if some of our team leaves. If we’re trying to hire, we’re aware that the labor crunch isn’t a joke. About 40% OF DENTISTS are recruiting, and 90% report recruitment as very or extremely challenging. At a minimum, our talented team members face stress in and out of the office. We can add efficiencies for our staff and automate critical functions to leverage their efforts with proactive strategies. These strategies will help us weather the choppy waters, but they’ll also set us up for success as we move beyond them. Here are five strategies that help support our existing staff even when we don’t have all hands on deck:

1. Review Time-Draining Tasks

Running a busy healthcare practice takes a myriad of activities that consume time and energy. Many of us don’t realize how many resources we’re spending on inefficient tasks. There’s never been a better time to map out the patient journey and consider the functions that help support an exceptional experience. Despite the negative impacts of COVID-19 and the Delta variant on practices, patients still expect healthcare service. And the demand for convenience stretches across all sectors, including healthcare. NEARLY 70% of Millennials and Generation Z consumers are likely to choose providers based on access to digital services. Finding digital tools that fit into our workflow enhances our effectiveness from everyone’s perspective. CONSIDER: Make a list of every part of the patient journey from the minute they choose your office until they book a follow-up a few months later. List the tasks, time, and physical assets needed to put a visit together. Then, consider how to streamline the entire process through revised systems and digital tools.

2. Eliminate Paper Weight

The reasons to go paperless could fill a file cabinet or a Google drive. One of the fastest ways to increase your team’s efficiency is by converting paper to digital bytes. You probably don’t scribble appointments in a book, and your patients shouldn’t be putting pen to paper in your waiting room. Did you know that the average office worker trudges to the fax machine, printer, and copier 61 TIMES EVERY WEEK ? While everyone needs exercise, disruptive tasks consume time and energy. Plus, printer ink costs more per ounce than a bottle of Chanel No. 5. CONSIDER: Adopt integrated digital tools that eliminate physical forms, filing, scanning, shredding, and tracking to help your existing team efficiently use their time. PAPERLESS FORMS offer one way to cut paper dependence and leverage your staff’s efforts.

3. Streamline Your Payment Processing

Manually processing payments takes full-time support and focus on details. My practice spent an entire day every month printing, folding, stuffing, sealing, stamping, and mailing physical statements in past years. Our cash flow depended on these activities, but it required more hours than we could cover in a busy practice. And we appreciated our patients calling to make a payment over the phone, but that effort demanded precious time. Patients expect to pay their bills on their devices and laptops whenever it fits their schedule. DIGITAL PAYMENTS SKYROCKETED 40% over the past two years, and consumers are surprised if they can’t take care of their balance with us online. A secure payment portal meets their goals and increases cash flow for our practices. CONSIDER: Patients don’t want to call to make a payment, and paper statements went out of style in the last decade. Meet patients where they’re at for CONVENIENT PAYMENT SOLUTIONS that lower stress and free up time for the admin team.

4. Add Telehealth For Leverage

Patient care at a physical appointment takes a complete team effort to deliver. Administrative duties at both ends of the visit include checking in and out, room turnover, disinfection, and treatment. The average doctor visit consumes 121 minutes of a patient’s time, and much of it requires a hands-on approach from our teams. When we came back from the 2020 shutdown, we immediately added telehealth visits to serve more people. But we quickly realized we freed our staff to handle more of the critical duties. Telehealth fits a few scenarios in every profession, from post-op checks to therapy instruction. And you need less in-office help during these visits, so you may be able to allocate virtual slots when you’re short-handed during the week. CONSIDER: Add a secure telehealth platform to expand the service you provide to patients. Almost 80% OF PEOPLE REPORTED SATISFACTION WITH VIRTUAL VISITS during the pandemic, and most of them plan to continue using them now. LEGWORK TELEHEALTH offers a complete solution we can trust with the ability to record visits, take screenshots, and integrate with our scheduling programs.

5. Prioritize Team Support

The impact of 2020 on healthcare emphasizes the value of an efficient, supportive work environment. Around 90%OF WORKERS REPORT STRESS AND ANXIETY , and staff shortages continue to impact employers in every sector. Practices feel the impact of challenging times even with a whole team, and there’s extra strain when they’re short-handed for lack of nurses and other positions. In 27 years of dentistry, I’ve always prioritized the culture of my practice. But the past couple of years called for a more proactive approach to enhance the wellbeing of our team. By combining one-on-one discussion, staff meetings, and system reviews, we’ve identified many ways to help increase the fulfillment of our work environment. CONSIDER: Digital tools enhance the patient experience, but look at how they might decrease staff stress levels and prevent burnout. For example, LEGWORK PAPERLESS FORMS reduces medical errors and eliminates the laborious tasks associated with paper: scanning, printing, shredding, and filing. Plus, less handling of clipboards and pens removes one more source of anxiety for teams trying to protect their health and focus on customer service.

Soften The Impact Of Staff Shortages In Healthcare

Healthcare workers in every profession face unique stresses while balancing heavy loads. HALF OF WORKERS WITH CHILDREN say they’re unable to spend adequate time with their families. Some staff members choose to spend more time at home, and many bring concerns to work. A multi-pronged approach focusing on efficiency, wellness, and support helps us maintain our practices now and in the future. Our teams need essential resources that support their efforts to serve patients at the highest level. Choose digital ecosystems that integrate multiple tools and allow your team to perform with less stress and fewer distractions. We can’t eliminate the impact of staff shortages in healthcare, but we can adjust and set the stage for better operations now and long-term in the future. Do you struggle to find enough staff to work at your healthcare practice? Get tips on how to manage with a lean team, in spite of staff shortages by watching our free webinar, “ FINDING A CURE FOR HEALTHCARE’S STAFFING SHORTAGE .”