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Staff Shortage Problem in Healthcare Practices | How Digital Technology Can Help

Currently, the healthcare sector in the UK is experiencing a significant scarcity of staff due to the substantial accumulation of NHS procedures and therapies resulting from the pandemic. The already difficult situation for NHS workers, care home operators, and patients across the UK was further complicated by the Covid-19 pandemic.  

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The waiting list for NHS treatments has skyrocketed, with hundreds of thousands waiting for over a year and thousands for over two years. The already understaffed NHS workforce is now facing burnout, with almost 100,000 vacant positions across the organization. 

Moreover, care home operators in England continue to encounter difficulties due to staff shortages. The spread of Covid-19 directly contributed to this issue, with thousands of care home workers taking sick leave, but the problem is persisting even as the UK moves out of the pandemic. 

 The number of individuals joining the nursing profession has been steadily declining over the years, with recent data from the Nursing and Midwifery Council indicating a reduction of 3,700 professionals joining the register between March 2020-2021 compared to the previous year’s equivalent period. 

The nursing workforce is ageing as well, with one in five registered nurses aged 56 or older and one in ten over the age of 60. With numerous nurses nearing retirement age and a shortage of new recruits to fill their roles, the UK’s nursing profession is likely to experience a significant shortfall in staff. These staffing problems also affect care home workers.  

Here are ways healthcare businesses can conquer the staff shortage through digital technology and healthcare digital marketing 

Self-Scheduling Technology 

Digital technology can offer patients the tools they require to take charge of their healthcare experience, reducing staff workloads. Patients can handle scheduling and preparation aspects of the care process, making it simpler for staff to concentrate on other responsibilities or take some time off.  

By entrusting this task to patients, they feel more empowered in their health journey. Providing patients with procedure-specific preparation instructions, too, such as video links or PDFs, can decrease the time staff spend responding to inquiries. 

Integration of Technology Platforms 

Improving patient outcomes and operational efficiency is greatly enhanced by the seamless integration of technology platforms, also known as interoperability. This is particularly vital in today’s digital era, as it enables healthcare providers to access patient information instantaneously, leading to fewer errors and better outcomes.  

Interoperable platforms such as a CRM for healthcare from Dogtown Media, reduce paperwork as well, such as faxes, easing concerns regarding HIPAA and security, and eliminating the possibility of important documents being misplaced. By making it easier to access critical information, interoperability also alleviates employee stress and ensures patients’ safety and satisfaction. Interoperability allows healthcare businesses to improve their digital marketing for B2B efforts too.   

Scalability and Integrations 

To achieve cross-departmental objectives, it is crucial to have technology that is both scalable and capable of integrating with other solutions. This integration facilitates streamlined workflows and enhances collaboration between teams. Failure to integrate different solutions can result in duplicate data entry, higher error rates, and stressed-out employees.  

And if the technology cannot adapt to the expanding needs of the organization, it may impede operations and lead to dissatisfaction. However, when technology is both scalable and integrated, it enables smooth operations, ultimately leading to increased satisfaction among both staff and patients. 

Digital Transformation 

The key to addressing staff shortages in healthcare is to prioritize digital transformation across the organization. Despite being a latecomer to innovation and technology compared to other industries, the healthcare sector can benefit greatly from digital transformation.  

By enhancing the patient experience and improving efficiency, digital transformation can reduce employee workloads and labor costs. Our subsequent list highlights various digital transformation initiatives and their potential to alleviate staffing shortages in healthcare. 

Cloud-Based Software 

To combat staff shortages, it is essential to address the IT personnel who may also experience burnout during times of high patient inflows. Cloud-based software is a solution that can significantly ease IT burdens by reducing on-site data storage, providing built-in troubleshooting tools, and offering 24/7 vendor support, thereby enhancing cybersecurity and collaboration.  

Cloud-based solutions can be accessed remotely, allowing IT staff to perform crucial tasks even if they are unable to be physically present in the office, whether due to inclement weather, caregiving responsibilities, or the pandemic. In addition to the benefits for IT personnel, frontline staff can also benefit from cloud utilization by being reassured that they do not have to worry about downtime, data breaches, or data source concerns. 

Automating Workflows 

Reducing workloads and mitigating burnout can be achieved through automating workflows. According to MedScape’s 2021 Physician Suicide and Burnout report, “too many bureaucratic tasks” was identified as the primary contributor to burnout by 58 per cent of healthcare workers. Many routine tasks, including data entry and reporting, can be automated to enable staff to concentrate on non-automatable tasks.  

Moreover, automating mundane tasks can alleviate burnout by eliminating the monotony of repetitive tasks. According to a 2018 Deloitte survey, robotic process automation (RPA) can account for up to 20 per cent full-time equivalent (FTE) capacity. The study also revealed that automating processes can result in improved accuracy, compliance, productivity, and cost reduction. 

Clinical Decision Support Mechanisms 

Clinical decision support mechanisms, or qCDSMs, are a valuable technology to address staff shortages in healthcare. A qCDSM helps ensure the accuracy of ambulatory orders by requiring a series of questions to be answered before an order can be submitted.  

This reduces the likelihood of ICD-10/CPT code mismatches, which in turn increases reimbursement rates. Accurate orders can help shorten throughput by ensuring that the correct order is entered for the correct patient, avoiding the need to reschedule or delay procedures due to inaccurate orders. 

Live Reporting Dashboards 

Live reporting dashboards are also a useful tool to address staff shortages by enabling various operational and productivity improvements. For example, these dashboards can be used to monitor room utilization, peak capacity and inflow times, and provider throughput. 

 Real-time analysis of this data can assist management in identifying areas where staff may be overworked, leading to burnout and staff shortages. Addressing these issues and reducing the workload of stressed employees can help mitigate healthcare staff shortages. 

Staff shortage amongst the healthcare businesses in the UK is anticipated to persist beyond the pandemic since the demand for healthcare workers is increasing while the supply of nurses and caregivers is diminishing. Let Legend DigiTech help in your digital marketing and transition efforts to retain and accrue staff. Reach us today! 

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