Healthcare in 2023 – an Ever Changing and Challenging Landscape
In the post-pandemic context, many healthcare organizations are left with the feeling that they are trying to hit a moving target in order to best serve their patients. At the same time, they are struggling financially due to diminished reimbursement.
This article focuses on some of the challenges facing healthcare in 2023 as highlighted by leading industry consultants and iShift’s own subject matter experts. It also outlines some new services that iShift is offering to assist organizations in the healthcare sector overcome the hurdles and raise the level of patient care, accessibility to healthcare, and health equity. In addition, special attention is paid to various strategies aimed at enabling and retaining healthcare professionals.
1. Financial Difficulties and Staffing Shortages
Health care and social assistance job openings increased by 115,000 to an all-time high of 9.2% as of September and 18.5% of nursing homes are reporting a shortage of nurses and 19.3% are reporting a shortage of aides. This comes as average hourly earnings continue to increase… This represents wage growth ranging from 19% to 21% since just before the onset of the pandemic.” Fitch Ratings October 2022
It is fair to say that the financial challenges healthcare systems face in 2023 are exacerbated by the convergence of three critical occurrences:
- persistent staffing issues,
- ongoing inflation, and
- diminishing Medicare reimbursement trends.
The limited pool of nursing professionals has resulted in a significant increase in the cost of patient care staff. This circumstance has caused healthcare organizations to reduce IT spend and their ability to retain qualified IT staff. In turn, this is depriving the organization from the ability to implement innovative digital healthcare solutions that would ultimately empower these healthcare professionals and optimize their productivity and efficiency.
Thus, the lack of financial resources for the deployment of better technology and the hiring of experienced IT talent is exacerbating the shortage in healthcare staff and their respective long-term engagement. Basically, we have a vicious circle in which healthcare professionals are taking funds away from the IT which means less technological innovation in healthcare, which in turn means a lower level of patient satisfaction and more shortage of highly qualified healthcare staff. It’s a damaging situation for all three players: patients, healthcare staff, and IT staff.
How iShift Can Help
At iShift we recognize that this trend is likely to continue and that is why, we worked on packaging some effective offerings to retain workers, optimize IT operations, and leverage technological innovation. Here are some ways we can assist you in mitigating the most pervasive challenges in the healthcare sector in 2023 and beyond.
Your M365 Subscription
Chances are your enterprise is among the 79% that has already embraced the power of the cloud and is taking advantage of M365’s robust functionality. However, you will be surprised many healthcare organizations are still not utilizing their Microsoft subscription to their full potential. That is why the first thing we do when we engage with clients is a full assessment of their cloud environment. The goal is to identify areas that can be improved in order to make businesses more competitive by maximizing the capabilities of technology they already own.
For example, M365 definitely takes remote workforce enablement to the next level and facilitates organizations to compete for the best talent, both on-premise and remotely. However, few organizations are taking advantage of other components in their subscription that allow them to better manage and monitor their remote workforce, such as M365 Usage Reports and Intune. These are powerful tools that can truly bridge the gap between local and remote healthcare staff for seamless work allocation and shift sharing. Furthermore, valuable insights can be gained as to what IT applications are being used and where effort needs to be made to improve efficiencies.
This is where the iShift Cloud Health check comes in play. Our cloud architects have a proven standard process where they assess your M365 environment, including a security audit, and evaluate if your regulatory protocols are met. This is done seamlessly without any adverse effect to your employees and patients.
Filling the Talent Gap in IT with Contingent Workers
I mentioned that one of the consequences of the rising costs of retaining nursing staff is the reduction in IT spending and the loss of IT talent associated with it. However, this trend doesn’t necessarily have to be detrimental for business operations. By adopting a modern agile hybrid approach to tech talent acquisition, companies can avoid high hiring costs and still meet their staffing goals relatively quickly. As a company that specializes in providing IT staffing services for a decade, we can offer innovative and flexible solutions to filling in your talent pool gap in a constantly changing market.
In fact, more and more businesses from all industries, including healthcare, are turning to contract-based hiring in IT. Some of the advantages for opting for contingent workers are flexibility, cost savings, project-specific skills, and more agility. Our robust ecosystem of certified, versatile, and highly skilled IT professionals allows us to ensure that you always have access to the right people, with the right skills, for the right time frame to achieve your strategic growth objectives.
Managed Cloud Services
Adding managed services to your organization’s IT strategy is another way to do more with less. iShift’s expertise as a managed cloud provider can enable you to build a modern cloud-based platform without the high upfront costs or the shortage of IT talent. Depending on your needs, you can take advantage of our full managed services portfolio. In this case, our team becomes an extension of your IT department. We take care over your IT infrastructure and allow your internal resources to dedicate their efforts strategic healthcare initiatives.
We also offer partial IT outsourcing where the scope is on specialized projects such as HIS implementation, cloud migration, data migration and archiving, backup and disaster recovery, or cloud health.
Workforce Talent Retention Assessment and Roadmap
In the healthcare industry, talent retention is critical for providing high-quality patient care and maintaining operational efficiency. However, healthcare organizations face numerous challenges when it comes to retaining top talent: steep competition from other employers, burnout, and the need to continually update skills to keep up with rapidly evolving technologies and medical practices.
A smart way to address these challenges is for healthcare organizations to conduct periodic workforce talent retention assessments as well as develop a structured roadmap for retaining and developing staff. This process involves evaluating the current state of the workforce, identifying potential areas for improvement, and implementing strategies to attract, engage, and retain talent.
iShift has several healthcare clients of different sizes and objectives. The iShift healthcare advisory team has developed a specialized workshop to help these organizations better understand, manage, and retain their employees. The Talent Retention Assessment in Healthcare workshop focuses on the primary challenges healthcare organizations face in retaining top talent. It offers strategies for addressing these challenges.
The workshop includes evaluating the current state of the workforce, understanding the needs and motivations of employees, and developing a roadmap for retaining and developing staff. The workshop emphasizes the importance of a positive work environment, supportive leadership, and employee engagement and satisfaction. Ultimately, the goal is to create a healthcare workforce that is engaged, motivated, and committed to providing high-quality patient care.
2. Digital Health Enablement for Care Provisioning Outside of Traditional Care Settings
In the past, healthcare was unidirectional and was centered around a patient visiting a healthcare provider at a clinic or hospital. The notion of a doctor’s house call largely became an anachronism of the 20th century. However, advances in technology and telehealth and a growing emphasis on patient-centered care are bringing back this concept with a twist.
More and more, there is a growing movement towards going back to a bidirectional interaction between patient and healthcare provider. In other words, the idea is to either bring care to the patient or bring the patient to the care. The aim of this approach is to enable access to care, reduce costs, and improve patient outcomes.
Bringing Care to the Patient or Patient to the Care
Bringing care to the patient involves providing healthcare services in non-traditional settings, such as the patient’s home, workplace, school, or community center. This is especially beneficial for patients with chronic conditions who require ongoing care and monitoring. The incentives for healthcare providers to bring care to the patient are significant: reduction in hospital readmissions, increased patient engagement and adherence to treatment plans, and improved patient satisfaction.
Sometimes a better solution is to bring the patients to the care by providing transportation, technology, or other assistance to get them to healthcare services. This approach is particularly useful for patients who need to access the brick-and-mortar healthcare facility but lack a means of transportation or are incapacitated by mobility issues. By providing assistance, healthcare providers can ensure their patients receive timely and appropriate care. This, in turn, can improve patient outcomes, reduce healthcare costs associated with preventable complications, and again improve patient satisfaction.
Both approaches are a huge advancement in healthcare delivery philosophy with their focus on patient-centered care and the willingness to adapt to the needs and preferences of patients. They both require a radical shift in the way healthcare is delivered and involve leveraging technology. Through recent innovations such as telemedicine and remote monitoring devices healthcare providers can deliver care to remote areas that were underserved in the past. Furthermore, advancements in IT enable providers to partner with community organizations to provide healthcare services in non-traditional settings.
How iShift Can Help
Guided by the understanding that improving telehealth and healthcare delivery is a critical goal for healthcare providers in today’s increasingly connected world, iShift has partnered with healthcare clients to help them achieve this goal. We are providing guidance, know-how, and advisory services in the following key areas:
- Enabling remote workers;
- Simplifying and optimizing technology;
- Securing and safeguarding PHI transmission.
Remote Workforce Enablement
Remote workforce enablement is a critical aspect of telehealth. The first step we take to enable your remote employees is to ensure they have access to the necessary applications and data from their remote locations. Depending on your organization’s environment, we will set up secure remote access either through a virtual private network (VPN) or through cloud-based authentication.
Another component of remote workforce enablement involves integrating remote devices and patient charting into healthcare delivery. iShift can work with healthcare providers to enable healthcare workers to access patient charts remotely, thus improving patient care and streamlining administrative processes. In addition, remote device integration, such as wearable sensors or remote monitoring devices, can also help healthcare providers collect real-time patient data and monitor patients from a distance.
Technology Simplification and Optimization
A key area iShift can accelerate improved healthcare delivery and patient outcomes is through technology simplification and optimization by implementing cloud computing and SaaS solutions. iShift can deploy, manage, and support these cloud-based tools within a healthcare providers’ IT infrastructure. The business benefits are streamlined administrative processes, strengthened data security, and access to critical patient data from anywhere at any time.
Leveraging Microsoft Teams is an essential tool for modern healthcare delivery. It provides an efficient collaborative platform for communication, file sharing, and project management.
Securing and Preserving the Integrity of Patient Data
Enabling secure transmission between remote monitoring devices and primary facilities is also critical for improving tele-health and healthcare delivery. This involves implementing secure data transmission protocols and ensuring that patient data is transmitted securely between remote devices and primary healthcare facilities.
To sum up, for healthcare providers to be effective in provisioning digital care outside of traditional care facilities a focus on several key technology areas is required. In essence, these are strategic IT projects that examine organizations’ existing and planned technology investments through the lens of innovation, optimization, and consolidation. By implementing these strategies, healthcare providers can improve patient outcomes, streamline administrative processes, and provide high-quality care to patients, regardless of their location or mobility.
If you need guidance on developing a roadmap with an acceptable ROI on how to jumpstart remote workforce enablement, let’s start the conversation today.
3. Enablement of Patient Access to Ensure Health Equity
To a large extent, equitable patient access to healthcare is overcoming the restrictions of traditional healthcare delivery from the point of the view of the patient. Just like with remote healthcare workers enablement, technology has the potential to be a powerful tool for achieving health equity and enabling patients to receive timely and appropriate healthcare services.
There are several ways technology can be used to improve access. Digital health technologies can facilitate access to care, especially in underserved communities.
Virtual Medicine allows patients to connect with healthcare providers remotely. This is particularly beneficial for patients in rural or remote areas who typically have limited access to healthcare services. Delivery of this type of service utilizing technology integrated into your EHR system can be used to provide virtual consultations, remote monitoring, and other services that improve patient access to care for those with limited access.
Mobile Health (mHealth) Applications
In recent years, mHealth applications have gained popularity among patients. These are powerful tools that can be used to promote health literacy, encourage healthy behaviors, and monitor health conditions. They can be especially helpful for underserved communities, as they can provide patients with access to health information and resources that they may not otherwise have.
Health Information Exchanges (HIEs)
HIEs allow healthcare providers to securely share patient information, thereby improving coordination of care, eliminating duplication of services, and reducing overall cost. This can be particularly beneficial for patients who receive care from multiple providers or who have complex medical conditions.
Wearable Technology and Remote Monitoring
Wearable technology, such as fitness trackers and smartwatches, can be used to monitor and track health data. It can help patients and healthcare providers identify health issues early and develop targeted interventions to improve health outcomes. More robust remote monitoring devices can provide similar capabilities in a more condition specific manner.
How iShift Can Help
As your technology solutions provider and partner, iShift can play a significant role in enabling health equity. We can offer a range of services that promote patient access to healthcare services by using innovative technology solutions. Here are some ways iShift can help:
Establish Secure Transmission between Remote Monitoring Devices and Primary Facilities
We can help healthcare providers set up secure transmission channels that enable remote monitoring devices to transmit patient data to primary healthcare facilities.
Enable Rural-Area Network Support
For healthcare organizations in rural areas we can deploy high-speed satellite networks that enable fast and reliable data transmission. This can help improve patient access to care by enabling remote consultations, telemedicine services, and other digital health technologies.
Implement Edge Computing
iShift can help healthcare organizations implement edge computing technologies for remote system access. The immediate benefit for patients is expediting access to care by providing healthcare providers with quick and easy access to patient information.
The iShift Healthcare Advisory team can provide guidance to healthcare organizations in need of a comprehensive IT strategy. We can help them evaluate and select the right technology solutions, implement those solutions effectively, and establish effective governance frameworks that ensure the security and privacy of patient data. In addition, we can conduct workshops to assess healthcare organizations’ current technology infrastructure, identify gaps and opportunities for improvement, and develop a roadmap for implementing technology solutions.
Overall, iShift can assist healthcare providers in enabling health equity by offering a range of technology solutions and services that promote patient access to healthcare services. By leveraging these solutions and services, healthcare organizations can improve patient outcomes, reduce health disparities, and promote health equity.
4. Clinician Burnout
The demand for data capture and reporting by health plans and regulatory agencies has increased significantly in recent years. Healthcare organizations are under pressure to collect and report a wide range of data to meet these mandates. While the intentions for these requirements were meant to be for the patients’ good, some unintended consequences with negative effects have also come to the forefront. The need for more patient data has led to an increase in workload for clinicians responsible for entering it into EHRs and other reporting systems.
The increase in data entry has led to a phenomenon known as documentation burden, which is a major contributor to clinician burnout. Clinicians are already under significant stress due to the demands of patient care, and the added burden of documentation can make their workload overwhelming. This, in turn, can lead to reduced job satisfaction, decreased productivity, and, paradoxically, medical errors.
To address this issue, healthcare organizations can adopt strategies that reduce documentation burden without sacrificing the quality of care by enlisting technology on its side.
One approach is automating data capture and reporting. For example, machine learning algorithms can be used to extract data from clinical notes and other data sources automatically. Such a system enhancement can significantly reduce the amount of manual data entry.
Another strategy is to optimize the EHR workflow to reduce the time clinicians spend on documentation. This can be done by streamlining the data entry process, reducing the number of clicks required to complete a task, and providing templates and checklists that make it easier for clinicians to document their findings.
There is no doubt that there are other causes that contribute to clinician burnout that need to be addressed, including adequate staffing, work-life balance, and a culture of well-being. At the same time, many adverse effects of the phenomenon can be successfully mitigated by leveraging technology and introducing innovative solutions.
How iShift Can Help
iShift can help healthcare organizations reduce documentation burden and improve the well-being of clinicians through several productivity-enhancing solutions. These include Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and Virtual Desktops, digital identity security solutions, and voice recognition solutions.
BYOD and Virtual Desktops
BYOD and Virtual Desktops are cost-effective solutions that can help reduce documentation burden for clinicians. These solutions allow clinicians to access patient data and EHRs from their own devices or a virtual desktop, which can significantly reduce the time and effort required for documentation. iShift can help healthcare organizations implement BYOD by setting up the necessary policies that allows healthcare workers to use their own devices to access PHI rather than forcing them to use devices they may be unfamiliar with.
Similarly, VDIs provide flexibility by allowing healthcare workers to access medical information anywhere anytime. If your organization is already on M365, we can set up Azure Virtual Desktop at no additional license costs.
Digital Identity Security Solutions
Another way we can help healthcare organizations reduce the overwhelming burden of data proliferation is through the implementation of digital identity security solutions that simplify authentication. For example, we can enable fingerprint or face recognition alternatives to multiple passwords and multi-factor authentication reinforced with innovative single sign-on functionality.
Implementation of Voice Recognition Solutions
Voice recognition solutions are an innovative technology that can help reduce the number of clicks required for documentation. iShift can help healthcare organizations implement voice recognition solutions to reduce documentation burden for clinicians, improve productivity, and reduce the risk of medical errors.
iShift can also provide advisory services to healthcare organizations to help them select, implement, and govern solutions to reduce documentation burden and improve clinician well-being while staying within budget and complying with regulatory requirements.
Clinician burnout is a significant problem caused by the increased demand for data capture and reporting. iShift offers several solutions that can help healthcare organizations reduce documentation burden and improve the well-being of clinicians. By implementing these solutions, healthcare organizations can improve clinician productivity and improve patient outcomes.
In today’s healthcare landscape, organizations are facing numerous challenges, such as rising costs, a shortage of healthcare professionals, and the need to meet regulatory requirements while providing high-quality care to patients. Fortunately, technology has a lot of potential to help organizations deal with these challenges.
Technological advancements, such as electronic health records, telemedicine, and wearable devices, can enable healthcare organizations to improve patient outcomes and reduce costs. In addition to improving patient outcomes, technology can also help healthcare organizations address workforce shortages. Telemedicine can enable healthcare professionals to provide care from remote locations, making it easier to reach patients in rural or underserved areas. Robotics and artificial intelligence can also help automate routine tasks and improving efficiency.
To sum up, technology offers a tremendous opportunity for healthcare organizations to overcome the challenges they face today. Therefore, it is essential for healthcare organizations to embrace technology and incorporate it into their operations to achieve better results. Engaging with technology partners, such as iShift, can help healthcare organizations streamline their workflows, reduce documentation burden on clinicians, improve the accuracy of patient data, and reduce healthcare costs.