• Adam Tabriz, MD

Medical Practices Are Boosting Wages To Maintain Their Workforce, But Is It Sustainable!?

Illumination initially published this article on Medium!

Photo by Zach Vessels on Unsplash

Independent medical practices have been suffering for over a decade. That has resulted from increased administrative burden, patient expectation, and emerging user unreceptive technologies such as Electronic Health Record Systems (EHR). But amid the more recent implementation of value-based reimbursement, the challenges to medical practices have further expanded.

According to a survey by MGMA (Medical Group Management Association), challenges associated with human resources comprise one of the top three in 2022 at 26%.

The Revenue cycle management exceeds this challenge at a 27% rate. That is why based on another survey conducted by the same agency on April 13th, 2022; amid the fears competitive market for talent where medical staff is constantly seeking better opportunities, medical practices are raising salaries to sustain their workforce.

Medical practices are experiencing sundry challenges in the year 2022. These include tribulations in utilizing Information technologies like EHR, Cybersecurity, Big Data, invoicing, payment processing, Telehealth, price transparency, and patient experience. However, independent medical practices take refuge in recruiting, training, and coordinating various staff to address such challenges and avoid further physician burden and burnout.

Since the latter process of human resourcing is time-consuming and costly, medical procedures intend to do whatever it takes to prevent staff churning. In fact, according to the MGMA report, 56% of participants in the medical practices stated that they are raising medical staff wages as their top tactic to overcome employees leaving them for more suitable jobs.

The most recent jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, according to the MGMA, marks March 2022 as the sluggishest month of healthcare job growth since the previous year. This trend has led medical practices to miss their revenue goals noting staffing problems holding back patient volumes. Consequently, that has caused an increasing number of patients to express letdown over long wait times for appointments, according to the Feb10th to 15th, 2022 report from CVS Health-Harris Poll National Health poll.

Healthcare cost is on the rise and is estimated to rise more. Parallel to it, healthcare leaders anticipate workforce droughts to continue unless they consider infrastructural reform for medical practices.

Simply raising the wages without addressing the core challenges of 2022 is highly unlikely to sustain the medical practice workforce for an extended period.

Maintaining the right people in the correct position takes more than adjusting wages. That is the painful reality medical practices must endure amid a tight labor market and growing inflation.

Based on the MGMA report, some practices also use additional strategies to help retain their medical staff, like offering flexible schedules and using temp workers.

Medical assistants (MAs) and nurses are the two most challenging positions to fill in 2022; according to the MGMA poll, 33% of the medical practices in earlier quarters in 2021, compared to 41% in 2022.

Interestingly, only 10% of the poll participants pointed out that they use other means to improve medical staff satisfaction in their workplace. That points us to the fact that we have a long way to go before witnessing enough staff retention, sustainability, and reduced employee churning.

Let us not forget that the staff churning and the modern medical practice infrastructure that will deter untenable human resources is the one that will help engage employees and promote flexible schedules and means of fulfilling tasks.

The modern system is ideally a hybrid system that allows the medical community to work virtually from a remote location and in-person in tandem with one another. Only after offering the latter resources and options will automation of administrative tasks and the use of bots come complementary to the medical practice workflow. Every other strategy, including outsourcing the work, pre-emptive salary expansion ahead of schedule, and referral bonuses, will positively affect staff retention.

A contemporary healthcare solution can create a well-structured environment that can attract an entry-level workforce, train through effective preceptorship, and take advantage of their efforts. These resources will allow the medical practices to benefit from resources one can’t ideally satisfy through pure automation. Latter includes tasks like compiling information and data entry for quality assurance and compliance. However, creating jobs at all skill levels necessitates well-written protocols, procedures, automation, and feedback procedures custom to each medical practice model. Once all the modern medical practice components are fulfilled and strategies thought out for, all the latter elements must harmonize.

The modern medical practice infrastructure must sustain medical staff retention in the long term. It will benefit from a network Cyber-Physical-Human System (CPHS) that places the workforce in the loop of Healthcare technology. That is the interconnected network of computers, medical devices, and people talking synchronously across cyberspace and time.

The modern sustainable medical practice staff resource will allow other systems, devices, and data streamlets to connect and disconnect with one another, providing a secure, flexible workspace that serves the patient benefits, efficiency of its stakeholders, and employees.

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