Staffing Is Home Health’s Biggest Challenge
The 2021 Outlook Survey by Home Health Care News (HHCN) revealed that 59% of the respondents said that staffing remains their single-most challenging aspect of home health operations.
With the onset of COVID-19, healthcare demand has increased drastically, overwhelming the supply of clinicians. Home health providers have struggled with employee retention. Many are retiring early, taking time off to care for family, or leaving the workforce due to health concerns.
There has also been a shortage of nurses in the U.S. due to many factors like low pay, poor working conditions, and COVID-19 burnout. In addition, other catalysts such as not having enough nursing school faculty members, rising nurse retirement rates, and the aging population in the U.S. have also contributed to this shortage, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
Staffing Challenges in Home Health
Smaller pool of nursing candidates
Typically, home health does not have a lot of nursing candidates to choose from. Many nursing programs prioritize institutional settings. Even before new nurses officially begin job hunting, they have not been trained as students to work in the home. Because of this lack of exposure to home health, many do not see it as a career path.
Competition with other healthcare sectors and unemployment benefits
One common way to improve recruitment is to increase wages, hence the stiff competition with other healthcare sectors like hospitals. They are larger and have a better paying ability. Some operators have also reportedly lost workers to pandemic-related unemployment benefits granted by the government that are stronger than employees’ regular pay.
With the abovementioned in mind, the ultimate challenge here is how to maximize your skilled clinician workforce for patient care. Agencies must find solutions to utilize their clinicians to focus on patient care, which is the top priority.
Maximizing Your Skilled Clinician Workforce for Patient Care
Outsourcing administrative tasks
While patient care is important, home health agencies also cannot compromise documentation quality, as it equally impacts patient outcomes and business profitability. Documentation, including QA review, clinical charting, and medical coding, require clinical knowledge, which outsourcing providers can assist with. Partnering with the right one can help maintain the clinical accuracy in your documentation, so that your in-house team can focus on patient care.
Reeducation and career development
Opportunities for reeducation and career development are an effective way to attract new talent and retain skilled employees. Specialized training programs and professional development initiatives can create efficiencies in patient care and the documentation process by helping improve clinician charting, among other things.
Streamlining EMR documentation
A recent study found that U.S. clinicians spend 50% more time on an EMR than those in other countries. When clinicians improve their clinical charting skills through continuous reeducation, significant amounts of time and resources can be saved. This can lead to opportunities of maximizing staffing utilization and increasing clinician patient load, while preventing burnout.
Getting The Help You Need
While staffing is a serious concern, home health providers are still hopeful about the year ahead. In the HHCN survey, 44% said staffing utilization has the greatest potential for efficiencies, while 34% identified “skilled home health care” as the greatest growth area for 2021.
These findings give way to opportunities for growth for home health agencies and providers. Many are embracing outsourcing as their ally in forward-thinking efforts, particularly in staffing utilization. By addressing the biggest challenge head-on with solid outsourcing support, agency clinicians are empowered to devote themselves to patient care.
2021 Home Health Care News Outlook Survey and Report >
Home Health Providers, Hospitals Are ‘Fishing in the Same Pool’ for Nursing Talent >
Staffing Reclaims Title of Home-Based Care Industry’s Biggest Challenge >