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Navigating the healthcare staffing crisis as a new small practice


Staff shortages are a challenge for most industries in today’s economic environment. In the healthcare field, the situation is a longer-term issue that started before the pandemic. When you are launching a new small practice, you will need to understand how to navigate the healthcare staffing crisis to ensure your success.

There are many reasons for the healthcare staffing crisis, beyond the stresses created by COVID-19, including:

  • Aging Baby Boomers who need additional care as they grow older
  • A growing prevalence of chronic diseases
  • A reduced number of graduates in the healthcare field to fill open positions.

On the administrative side, staff positions may be difficult to fill and team members a challenge to retain as these positions typically offer limited opportunities for career growth. Administrative staff can also suffer from burnout, as they must remain current with changing regulations, work long hours performing tedious manual tasks, and may not receive the recognition for their work that they feel they deserve.

One of the first key strategies that can help in navigating the healthcare staffing crisis as a new small practice is to find out what your current employees want and need. Each practice is unique, particularly in regard to addressing the challenges of burnout among clinical and administrative staff. The issue may be an inefficient workflow or ineffective management. Staff may want more opportunities for professional development.

Over a fourth of all healthcare workers (28%) have been found to be a potential retention risk due to:

  • A lack of recognition for their hard work and contributions
  • Unfair compensation
  • Limited opportunities for career growth and development.

To help retain team members, ask some pertinent questions in a “stay interview,” including:

  • Why do you stay with the organization?
  • When was the last time you thought about leaving, and what prompted that thought?
  • What can we do to make working here more enjoyable?

Equipped with the answers, it’s important to then implement strategies and maintain an ongoing commitment to employee well-being.

Another strategy is to focus on the highest quality patient experience, through the use of technology that encourages patients to play a larger role in their own healthcare and that helps to alleviate the workload for clinical and administrative staff.

Elation Health offers your patients a secure app that encourages engagement and communication, for an improved patient experience.

Additional strategies for navigating the healthcare staffing crisis include creating and implement a plan of action to:

  • Offer a comprehensive salary and benefits package
  • Revamp the onboarding process to ensure new staff members feel welcome
  • Promote staff health and wellness
  • Equip managers to be sounding boards
  • Provide positive feedback
  • Ask for staff input on ways to improve their daily workload
  • Communicate regularly
  • Set reachable goals
  • Connect employees to the healthcare organization’s mission
  • Automate workflows.

Improving operational performance can help improve staff morale as well as care quality and patient outcomes. More efficient and effective workflows are the best place to start to alleviate the burdensome tasks and processes that can lead to burnout and to retention challenges. Team members, both clinical and administrative, want and need better processes for communication, scheduling, and care coordination. Strategic, intelligent use of healthcare technology can alleviate the stresses of manual tasks, aiding the new small practice in successfully navigating the staffing crisis.