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What Is The Solution For Staffing Shortages In Healthcare?

By Planet DDS
November 17, 2021

By Dr. Greg Grillo

When we graduated from our professional schooling, we just wanted to help people. It didn’t take long to learn that managing a full-scale small business involves more than we anticipated. The COVID-19 pandemic turned up the intensity, and we’re grappling with challenges that appear to stretch into the horizon. It takes people to help people. Healthcare demands relationships and hands-on assistance. But it’s projected that EVERY STATE will face shortage of care workers by 2026, and 14% of hospitals currently report critical staffing levels. Whether we’re a small physical therapy practice or a large dental group, we’re likely to feel the effects of a tight labor market with a high demand for healthcare workers. Our challenge is to stay aware of the larger forces around us while focusing on what we can control. Our circle of influence has limits; looking too far beyond fosters frustration and anxiety. We can advocate for more training programs and recruitment campaigns by our healthcare organizations. And we can run ads for human resources on Indeed, Facebook, and at local schools. There aren’t any magic bullets to this crisis of worker shortages, but the most significant, immediate impact comes from within our realm. Consider these three focus points to maintain a sense of direction and keep control of your operations. Manage by increments; make minor adjustments and investments to keep your ship on the right path.

1.Create A Place People Want To Be

We know the impact of a brand on our psyche. As soon as we hear a name, we immediately form a judgment. The images that come to mind may be different when you see ads from your favorite stores. Patients form impressions when they hear healthcare brands in communities, too. But it’s not just them. Potential employees pay attention, and they’re faced with more options than ever. If a hygienist is considering adding days, is your office the best choice over the other five practices in dire need of her services? Or, if your optometry practice needs a financial coordinator, does your brand stand out from the big organization down the street? Online reviews create a narrative about your business that speaks to everyone. Potential employees may check reviews left by the customers they’ll be asked to serve. LEGWORK REVIEWS provides an efficient method to invite patients to put your story online for prospective patients and employees. And they may look further: 80% OF JOB SEEKERS in the United States consider reviews from current or former employees on job sites. As a small business, even one review can tip the scale in your favor. In a short-term hiring crunch, don’t overlook the story that’s being told. Create a living narrative through social media posts that highlight your setting and employees. After all, one good hire at a critical time can boost practice direction and morale.

2. Streamline Time-Consuming Tasks

Our practices get through long to-do lists, but sometimes we manage by default. Work gets done a certain way simply because it’s always been the mode of operation. But a critical analysis of our workflow presents an opportunity to reinvent or modify essential functions of our daily processes. Sometimes what we uncover surprises us. Employees can spend up to 40% OF THEIR TIME looking for information found in filing cabinets. In typical healthcare practices, paper and digital records create a complex mix. For example, digital appointments and reminders may be in place, but a HIPAA form and health history update end up on a clipboard. The uncoordinated mix may create more cumbersome work for a short-staffed team, especially if something gets misplaced. Moving the most common forms to a digital space frees up swaths of time, especially as your team learns to deploy them. LEGWORK PAPERLESS FORMS is one tool that creates forms with drag-and-drop simplicity. Patients can complete their input before they get to the office, and that step saves your staff time. Plus, the “paperwork” is filed automatically for recall from the patient’s digital file. Everyone knows where to find it, and filing errors hit zero.

3. Hyper-Focus Services

We healthcare professionals are trained to provide many services and serve a range of needs, and many of us enjoy providing a treatment mix. But more care types demand more supplies, skills, and support. For example, a dental office that does everything from root canals to third molar extractions may require a broader support team than one that focuses on restoring teeth. Someone has to understand different operatory set-ups, supply ordering, and treatment sequences. Broader care may stretch a thin team to the breaking point. As practitioners, we need to evaluate our full capabilities based on the overall scenario. If we’re fully staffed, covering the spectrum may work fine. But if we’re short an assistant or working with inexperienced support, it may be time to stay in a narrower lane. And with the right approach, we can be highly productive with less stress. Return to unfinished treatment from existing patients and complete an audit for procedures that fit your current staffing model. LEGWORK TREATMENT OPPORTUNITIES is an example of a program that helps dentists identify, educate, and nudge patients back to care. If you’re hyper-focused on a narrow treatment mix during staff shortages, tools like this help formulate a treatment plan for the office. You may also use email workflows to send campaigns to patients on profitable procedures that require minimal chair time, like Invisalign®. A short-term shift to referring more demanding procedures to specialists and nurturing productive services that need less support can help navigate challenging times.

Healthcare Workforce Shortage Solutions Start Internally

We know our people serve an essential role in the care we give. And the bigger the operation, the more challenges we face when looking for healthcare workforce shortage solutions. Nearly 1 IN 5 HEALTHCARE WORKERS left their roles during the pandemic, and others continue weighing their future options. We can’t control the larger forces, but we can create places where the care workforce wants to work. Then, we give them the tools for maximum efficiency and hyper-focus our operations to remain productive with minimal stress. Explore more how your team can do a lot….with a little, together. Request a demo to learn how Legwork can help.