October 16, 2023

In 500 Words or Less: Pain in Healthcare Extends Beyond Patients

Talk to anyone in the healthcare industry today—leaders, medical professionals, business office or administrative staff—and you quickly understand the severity of challenges they cope with on a daily basis. Financial pressures have never been greater. Employee shortages are rampant. And, not surprisingly, levels of stress and burnout also are at all-time highs.

Eighty percent of healthcare leaders told the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) in 2022 that their level of stress/burnout had increased. In 2018, 45% of healthcare leaders said they felt burnt out and 28% said they felt “somewhat” burnt out. That’s nearly a doubling of stress-related work burn out in four years!

Leaders reported that staffing issues are the top driver of their work-related stress. Ironically, however, some also said that adopting new technologies—many of which can relieve pressure on staff—is a stressor.

“It has become increasingly challenging to recruit new support staff (clinical and administrative), which leaves our clinics short-handed and feeling overwhelmed,” an assistant vice president of healthcare operations in Kentucky is quoted in MGMA’s survey, which included 691 healthcare leaders.

“Without being properly staffed, operations suffer. Routine tasks of scheduling appointments and returning calls, to the leadership tasks of optimization, are anything but routine,” added the Kentucky-based leader.

Difficult working conditions are leading many staff people to leave their jobs, with 59% of medical practice leaders reporting that staffing was the top reason employees left for other jobs in 2021. Some healthcare systems and clinics are responding by raising salaries and providing bonuses, but as competitors do the same it becomes a zero-sum game in terms of employee retention. To be sure, compensation increases do help employees to feel more appreciated, yet their feelings of being overwhelmed, dispirited and exhausted soon return when basic working conditions do not improve.

What can be done?

Our experience with a wide variety of healthcare organizations shows that smart technology solutions can relieve pressure and stress for healthcare administrative staff on the frontlines and in the back offices, as well as for their leaders.

Beginning in November, we’ll share some examples and success stories in our blog series “Improving the Staff Experience.”