According to findings from a recent Vivian Health study, more than half of healthcare professionals do not feel optimistic about the future. The study include more eye-opening statistics:
- 53% of healthcare professionals did not feel optimistic about the future of US healthcare, with only 20% of the total surveyed indicating an optimistic outlook.
- 87% of respondents indicated that their facilities are still short-staffed, on average.
- 72% reported that morale has gotten worse in their facility.
- 43% of respondents reported considering leaving the healthcare profession this year.
The statistics show a sharp decline in numerous measures versus a similar survey in 2020, in which 80% of respondents indicated that they would be likely to continue working as a healthcare professional following the COVID-19 pandemic. Without optimizing the revenue cycle and investing in and incentivizing employees so they are more likely to stay, these negative trends will likely persist, especially as the pandemic continues to take its toll. Subsequently, healthcare institutions are going to have to make a concerted effort to entice their staff to stay and to attract new talent.
Despite government loan and grant programs, hiring qualified healthcare professionals to fill open positions has presented a problem, particularly as career ambitions have evolved and more healthcare professionals are leaving the industry altogether because of burnout/moral injury from bureaucracy and the ongoing pandemic. Several relatively low-cost solutions have been proposed to retain talent, including providing greater schedule flexibility and offering ancillary mental health benefits, such as an employee assistance program, or EAP, with counseling services.
Other solutions are more costly, such as providing bonuses and other compensation incentives, and these initiatives require healthcare institutions to optimize their own revenue stream so that they have the finances to provide their staff with such offerings, all at a time when hospitals alone face losing between $53 billion and $122 billion because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. A recent LBMC story, The Seven Step Revenue Cycle of a Healthcare Practice, details the process to track revenue from patients from their initial appointments or encounters with the healthcare system to when the hospital or provider gets fully paid, which involves 7 steps: preregistration, registration, charge capture, claim submission, remittance processing, insurance follow-up, and patient collections. It’s indicated that if best practices are followed for each of these steps and billing statements get to patients more quickly, cash flow can be accelerated. Other recommended strategies for improving cash flow include submitting uninsured COVID-19 claims to HHS for reimbursement, following best practices regarding reimbursement for telehealth visits, resolving outstanding denials and underpayments, and offering patients prompt pay or pay-in-full discounts. With accelerated cash flow comes greater ability to invest in employee retention initiatives more quickly and easily, including measures that address their overall health and mental wellness.