It’s no secret that the past two years have put a substantial clinical and financial strain on our medical system. Epic River sat down with a handful of industry experts to get their perspectives on how RCMs and providers can offset rising labor costs and prepare for a hopeful rebound in the summer of 2022.
Healthcare Industry Experts Who Weighed In
- Kevin Holloran, Senior Director, Sector Leader USPF Healthcare
- Brian Unell, Founder & CEO, Thrival Consulting LLC
- Heather George, Healthcare Industry Executive, Formerly CRO,
Cost of Labor due to Staffing Shortages
Staffing costs represent one of the healthcare industry’s most significant expenses. Current labor shortages are causing this expense to go through the roof with no end in sight. We’ll first look at what’s driving the current staffing shortage and the resulting hike in labor costs. We’ll then explore organization-wide cost-saving opportunities for providers and RCMs.
High Resource Care
The pandemic brought in an influx of “atypical” patient cases with greater than usual care needs. A COVID-19 patient could necessitate as many as six healthcare workers at a time to provide adequate care. The result has been a significant drain on staffing resources contributing to rising labor costs.
Pandemic Fatigue & BurnoutThe pandemic has taken its toll on healthcare workers causing some to retire early and others to leave the profession altogether. Before the pandemic even began, between 35-and 54% of U.S. nurses and physicians reported already feeling burned out according to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Roughly 1 in 5 healthcare workers have left the medical field since the pandemic began.
Demand for Medical Services
Many people put off elective surgeries and treatments during the pandemic. The pent-up demand for medical services is causing a surge that medical providers aren’t currently staffed to meet.
Organization-Wide Resource & Cost Saving Opportunities
Opportunity 1: Leveraging Technology
The use of technology is a welcome advancement for the healthcare industry. Patients have become accustomed to self-service for many administrative tasks like digital check-ins and self-scheduling. By automating and digitizing general activities like appointment booking and sending reminders providers can save time and money.
Opportunity 2: Reevaluating Real Estate
Providers have an opportunity to reevaluate and reduce their real estate footprint for cost savings. The amount of physical space that was previously needed to run a medical facility is no longer warranted. In many cases, patients are delighted to take advantage of telehealth which cuts down on the need for treatment rooms and large waiting areas. And with work from home now an established norm, remote workers no longer need dedicated office space to perform their jobs.
Opportunity 3: Offshoring & Outsourcing
Offshoring and Outsourcing not only cuts down on the need for real estate—but provide valuable opportunities to capture more affordable labor. Outsourcing everything from back-office functions and revenue cycle management to entire finance departments is a cost-saving measure more and more organizations are taking advantage of or considering.
Opportunity 4: Leveraging Fixed Assets
Revenue predictability has decreased in recent years due to an increase in outpatient diagnostics and services. Providers need to figure out where there are opportunities for margin improvements and turn cost centers into revenue centers.