Locums Digest #42: New Year, New Strategies for Navigating Staffing Shortages, LT.com on Telehealth as Solution, New CEO for MDstaffers, Cross Country Completes Acquisition & More

In This Issue:

  1. Healthcare Leaders Expect Turbulent 2023 Operating Environment
  2. LT.com President on How Telehealth Is Helping Solve Staffing Shortages
  3. MDstaffers Announces Appointment of Ryan Larkin as CEO
  4. SIA Names MPLT Healthcare One of 2022’s Largest Healthcare Staffing Firms
  5. Cross Country Healthcare Completes Acquisition of Hireup Leadership Inc.
  6. Can Hiring Retired Clinicians Help Hospitals with Staffing Shortages?
  7. Solomon Page Awarded Healthcare Staffing Services Certification from The Joint Commission
  8. Report: New York Hospitals on Brink with Staffing Shortages, Financial Woes
  9. Join us at the NAPR/NALTO® 2023 Annual Convention February 5-7, 2023 in San Antonio, Texas!
  10. Building Trust and Loyalty in the Age of Staff Shortages
  11. Socially Speaking: Social Posts of Note from All-Star, Wilderness, Weatherby, Hayes & more
  12. ‘Gaslighting’ is 2022’s word of the year. Healthcare is not immune to its flame

Healthcare Leaders Expect Turbulent 2023 Operating Environment

(Lightly edited from Healthcare Dive article by Hailey Mensik, 12/16/2022)

Dive Brief:
  • Leaders at hospitals and health systems across the country anticipate a potentially turbulent operating environment in the coming year, according to a survey from Deloitte.
  • Among health system leaders, 85% said staffing challenges would have a major impact on their 2023 strategy, and 76% said inflation is a significant factor. Other expected headwinds include affordability issues for patients, shrinking margins, and continual supply chain disruptions.
  • Deloitte also polled health plan executives and found they face challenges related to inflation and a tight labor market, though are generally in a better financial position than hospitals and health systems. 
Dive Insight:

Hospitals are still impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with staffing shortages and burnout continuing to pose major challenges to systems. Inflation and heightened expenses have hurt hospital margins and are expected to continue in 2023.

That’s causing some concern to healthcare executives, according to Deloitte’s survey, which included responses from 71 executives at both health systems and health insurance companies with revenue over $500 million.

Among health system executives, 37% said they feel cautiously positive about the coming year, while 32% said they feel negative. Only 5% of respondents said they feel positive.

Among health plan executives, 43% said they feel cautiously positive and 23% said they felt positive, while just 3% said they feel negative.

Inflation has not yet fully hit payers, as they are typically locked into contracts with providers that stipulate rates for several years. That will change in the coming years as more contracts are able to be renegotiated.

Labor expenses have been rising for hospital systems, and facilities are focused on remedying staffing woes in the coming year, as systems face widespread burnout and heightened turnover.

Nearly 90% of respondents said investing in their workforce next year was important or very important.

Another recent report from Fitch ratings found staffing shortages at nonprofit hospitals appear to be easing incrementally, pointing to consistent job gains for hospitals and ambulatory service providers this year in reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The ongoing pandemic and more cases of influenza and RSV are causing capacity issues that pose a major near-term risk to labor costs, however, that report said.

All News Is Locums

Staffing Expert: How Telehealth Is Helping to Solve the Staffing Shortage

(Lightly edited from Healthcare IT News story by Bill Siwicki, 12/19/2022)

Article Highlights:

  • New data shows more than 300,000 healthcare workers dropped out of the workforce in the last two years.
  • Although it’s been on the horizon for years, the impact of a big population of aging baby boomers is finally here, and demand for healthcare is increasing dramatically as a result.
  • Traditionally, psychiatric services dominated locum tenens telehealth services, with behavioral health accounting for 79% of telehealth services for LocumTenens.com, which began offering telehealth staffing solutions.
  • According to LocumTenens.com’s recent survey on innovation and flexibility in staffing, when most administrators consider locum tenens, they think about onsite physician care. Data shows hospitals utilize onsite locum tenens more than three times as often as telehealth, but that is starting to change.
  • After COVID-19 expedited facilities’ use of telehealth, most hospitals expect to expand their use of telehealth even further.

LocumTenens.com President Chris Franklin

The staffing shortage is a massive challenge in healthcare today. Another challenge is finding a solution to this vexing problem.

But telehealth may be becoming an emerging strategy to help fill in gaps within hospitals and health systems, contends Chris Franklin, president of LocumTenens.com, a self-service job board and a full-service physician and advanced practice recruitment agency.

Healthcare IT News sat down with Franklin to discuss changes occurring in healthcare staffing, what he calls “hybrid staffing strategies,” and the results of a new LocumTenens.com survey.

Q. Overall, what changes do you see occurring in healthcare staffing?

A. The changes we’ve seen in the broader economy regarding contingent employment over the past three years are incredibly impactful on healthcare staffing. There are a few key numbers that tell the story.

There currently are 3.5 million fewer workers in the US than there were two years ago. Since February 2020, job openings have increased by 50%, while total employment in the US has gone down slightly. Because demand is outpacing the available supply, workers are demanding not just increases in pay, but also more choice and control over when, how and where they work. This is incredibly true in healthcare, based on every indicator we watch.

New data shows more than 300,000 healthcare workers dropped out of the workforce in the last two years. Physicians report they are choosing early retirement or leaving the full-time practice of medicine for other kinds of work, in and outside of our industry.

Nurses on the frontline have made the news because of difficulties they have experienced, and also because of the freedoms they are newly experiencing due to the uptick in travel nursing. According to a 2021 study from Health Affairs, nearly 100,000 nurses exited the profession last year – most of them under age 50.

Another 32% of nurses have said they may leave the profession. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates we’ll need to fill nearly 200,000 nurse vacancies a year until 2030.

Patients are sicker than they have ever been. Over the past year, nearly every hospital has seen increases in patient acuity, largely driven by care that was delayed during the [COVID-19] pandemic. And chronic disease and obesity continue to be primary drivers of healthcare consumption in the US.

Even though it’s been on the horizon for years, the impact of a big population of aging baby boomers – the oldest turned 75 this year – is finally here, and demand for healthcare is about to increase dramatically as a result.

Burnout also is at an all-time high. A recent survey from MGMA and Jackson Physician Search highlights a sobering pair of statistics: Nearly two-thirds of physicians (65%) report experiencing burnout in 2022, up four percentage points from the 2021 study. Of those experiencing burnout, more than one in three physicians (35%) said their levels of burnout significantly increased in 2022.

All of this points to a big, industrywide shake-up, and we see first-hand that traditional workforce staffing models are no longer working, especially in healthcare.

What’s emerging is something very different – hybrid models that anticipate both permanent and contingent workers, an uptick in models that combine site-based care with a robust telehealth presence, an increase in APP staffing overall, and in general, a growing commitment to giving providers access to the kind of work-life balance they are desperately seeking.

Q. You say you are seeing a hybrid staffing strategy that includes elements of locum tenens, more advanced practice providers, and more telehealth coverage. Please elaborate on this.

A. Healthcare leaders are looking for new and creative solutions now more than ever – amidst this backdrop of healthcare workforce shortages.

We have seen first-hand the impact the gig economy is directly having on the healthcare workforce and know the biggest concerns for healthcare facilities are attracting talent, retaining talent, and avoiding or mitigating burnout.

To help clinicians fulfill their desire to achieve a more viable work-life balance, healthcare leaders are evolving their hiring models to reflect a new appreciation for the flexibility that hybrid staffing models represent. Solely relying on traditional staffing models and solutions just won’t work anymore. Through staffing innovation, hospitals and healthcare organizations are actively seeking options to improve access to care with more sustainable models.

Healthcare staffing is complex, and there’s never a one-size-fits-all solution. Still, we are seeing an increase in interest in alternative staffing models, including the growing use of locum tenens staff and improving patient access to care with advanced practice providers (APPs) and telehealth expansion.

Awareness of and interest in locum tenens are at an all-time high for both healthcare organizations and clinicians. People are actually taking their own well-being into account in terms of their employment, opting into contingent work as a way to manage their levels of stress and burnout.

We had a locum tenens physician tell an audience at a recent conference: “If you have burnout in locums, you are not doing it right.” There’s no doubt flexibility of locum tenens offers a desirable outcome on what physicians want out of life.

According to our recent survey:

  • Nearly 90% of healthcare facilities already use locum tenens staffing.
  • Nearly 57% of facilities that have not used locum tenens staffing in the past are planning to use it in the next year.

According to LocumTenens.com’s recent survey on innovation and flexibility in staffing, when most administrators consider locum tenens, they most commonly think about onsite physician care. Data shows hospitals utilize onsite locum tenens more than three times as often as telehealth, but that is starting to change.

Facilities that were previously reliant on onsite are now embracing telehealth. COVID-19 expedited this adoption as hospitals looked beyond traditional models to meet their patients’ needs. In some cases, hospitals are taking a flexible, hybrid approach that integrates telehealth and onsite care, providing the best of both worlds and delivering value to patients.

Additionally, the use of APPs in combination with physicians as a strategy is growing, with 73.9% affirmatively responding to the question, “Do you plan to expand APP coverage?”

Q. Your company recently did a survey of hospital administrators to get a clearer view of the challenges in today’s landscape. What did you learn as it relates to telehealth?

A. Our recent survey results – which are detailed in the Innovation & Flexibility: Journey to Sustainable Healthcare Report – revealed that hospital administrators have strong feedback when it comes to managing today’s challenging landscape.

With regard to how it relates to telehealth, more facilities are using telehealth than ever before. COVID-19 expedited this adoption, but over the coming year, most hospitals expect to expand their use of telehealth even further – there is no turning back.

Patients across the board are now more comfortable using telehealth as the COVID-19 pandemic drove a surge in virtual visits, including those who have historically hesitated to use technology. Traditionally, psychiatric services dominated locum tenens telehealth services, with behavioral health accounting for 79% of telehealth services for LocumTenens.com.

However, utilization has started to shift as hospitals look at other specialties, including oncology, cardiology, and physiatry. By expanding telehealth offerings, facilities can expand access to care and reach more patients in new locations.

Over the past year, many facilities have delivered a higher level of specialty care to satellite or remote locations through telehealth. Going forward, better reconciling reimbursements to align with the level of care provided in a telehealth setting will lead to broader adoption.

Q. Where do you see the telehealth component of staffing in five years?

A. The feedback we have gotten shows that more than half (60%) of those surveyed plan to expand telehealth. Through innovation, healthcare providers will continue to adapt to flexibility and improved access to care. These flexible solutions create a more sustainable model to provide quality care to patients and their communities.

As clinicians are passionate about patients receiving quality healthcare delivered in a timely manner, I see telehealth programs being the key to improving patient outcomes and the overall healthcare experience.

The beauty of telehealth is that it provides access to a qualified provider at any time. For example, we have a client that provides psychiatric services across the country. During a busy day, a patient presented who was experiencing domestic violence trauma, and she wasn’t comfortable talking with a male doctor.

The problem was there were only male psychiatrists on call at her presenting hospital. The hospital contacted our team, and we in turn reached out to two privileged and credentialed female providers that weren’t on call that day.

Although one was heading out to attend a wedding, she accepted the assignment to provide care for this patient immediately. So, even though this psychiatrist worked five states away from the hospital, she was able to provide care because of the access to telehealth.

The result: The patient received the “right care” that she needed at the right time with an experienced provider.

MDstaffers Announces Appointment of Ryan Larkin as CEO

(Edited from MDstaffers web post, 12/20/2022)

MDstaffers has announced that Ryan Larkin will serve as its next president and CEO, effective January 1, 2023. Tyler Covey, the company’s current CEO, announced his retirement. Covey will chair MDstaffers’ Board of Directors.

“I am excited to take the helm as MDstaffers’ CEO to lead our continued growth, impact, and success,” Larkin said. “We have an incredible team, and the company is well-positioned for its next chapter.”

Larkin joined MDstaffers in 2015 and has taken on increasingly integral roles – including leading sales, operations, delivery, and technology. He has served as chief operating officer since 2019, driving growth and integrating all MDstaffers’ business operations.

Departing CEO Covey observed, “I am proud of all we have accomplished in the last seven years. Ryan has been a key component of MDstaffers’ industry-leading success, and this transition has been in process for nearly a year. With his deep understanding of the business and inspiring vision for the future, I am confident Ryan is the right person to lead the organization to new heights.”

Staffing Industry Analysts named Larkin to its “North America 40 under 40” list in 2020, and Sacramento Business Journal honored him as a 2022 C-Suite Executive of the Year.

About MDstaffers

MDstaffers is a national healthcare staffing firm specializing in physician, advanced practitioner, and mental health clinician staffing for on-site and virtual care on temporary and permanent bases. Headquartered in Rancho Cordova, California, MDstaffers is a multi-year best place to work and Inc. 5000 honoree.

SIA Names MPLT Healthcare Named One of 2022’s Largest Healthcare Staffing Firms

(Edited from EIN Presswire news release, 12/15/2022)

MPLT Healthcare has been named one of 2022’s “Largest Healthcare Staffing Firms in the United States” by Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA). The South Florida-based locum tenens agency also ranked #14 on SIA’s list of 2022’s Largest Locum Tenens Staffing Firms in the United States.

MPLT Healthcare President Liz Hale commented, “We are honored to have been named one of our country’s largest healthcare staffing firms by SIA for the fourth time. One of our core values is “Make a Contribution,” and I am so proud of our team for doing just that as we continue to grow within the temporary healthcare staffing landscape.

“It also has been especially rewarding to be named on SIA’s list of our country’s 2022 “Largest Locum Tenens Staffing Firms” for the third time since 2019. Our team is passionate about providing trusted locums coverage for healthcare facilities across the US, especially as they continue to face higher patient volumes since the onset of the pandemic.

“This recognition is a reflection of our team’s dedication to providing excellent service; I can’t wait to see what we accomplish in 2023.”

By SIA’s estimates, the 81 companies named on this list alone account for 84% of the healthcare staffing market, or $39.2B in revenue. Their full list of 2022’s “Largest Healthcare Staffing Firms” in the United States can be found here.

About MPLT Healthcare

MPLT Healthcare celebrated its first decade in business in September 2022. The agency specializes in placing highly qualified physicians and advanced practice clinicians in locum, locum-to-perm, and direct-hire staff positions.

During the past 10 years, MPLT Healthcare has staffed more than 1500 providers in 102 different specialties; made placements in all 50 states, as well as in several international locations; staffed more than 644,000 hours of patient care; and filled 60,000+ shifts at 450 different facilities.

MPLT  has also garnered many accolades, including ClearlyRated’s 2022 Best of Staffing® Client and Talent Diamond Awards; South Florida Business Journal’s 2022 South Florida Temporary Personnel & Staffing Agencies list; South Florida Business Journal’s Fast 50; and Modern Healthcare’s “Best Places to Work in Healthcare.”

The Healthcare Staffing Story

Cross Country Healthcare Completes Acquisition of Hireup Leadership Inc.

(Edited from BusinessWire news release, 12/13/2022)

Cross Country Healthcare, Inc. (the “Company”) (Nasdaq: CCRN), a market-leading, tech-enabled workforce solutions platform and advisory firm, today announced the acquisition of Hireup Leadership Inc. (“Hireup”).

Hireup is an interim leadership firm based in Santa Barbara, Calif. Founders Brad and Lucy Pantoskey have been committed to innovating interim leadership in the healthcare community for 20 years. Hireup partners with organizations – including hospitals, academic medical centers, and clinics – to recruit healthcare leaders within the ranks of nursing, allied healthcare, medical practice, human resources, and finance.

“The addition of Hireup to the Cross Country portfolio continues to strengthen our position in the talent management landscape,” said John A. Martins, president and CEO of Cross Country Healthcare. “Their deep expertise in leadership staffing and strong relationships supports and expands our robust network and enhances our ability to solve complex workforce challenges many organizations face in today’s corporate healthcare environment.”

Hireup Managing Partners and Founders Brad and Lucy Pantoskey said, “We are excited to join an industry leader and iconic brand like Cross Country to continue building a best-in-class, inclusive community of the most talented and influential leaders across the country.” 

About Cross Country Healthcare

Cross Country Healthcare, Inc. is a leading tech-enabled workforce solutions and advisory firm with 36 years of industry experience and insight. We solve complex labor-related challenges for customers while providing high-quality outcomes and exceptional patient care. As a multi-year Best of Staffing® award winner, we are committed to providing a high level of service to our clients and to the homecare, education, and clinical and non-clinical healthcare professionals with whom we work. 

Our locum tenens line of business, Cross Country Locums, has been certified by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), the leader in healthcare accreditation, since 2001. We are the first publicly traded staffing firm to obtain The Joint Commission Certification, which we still hold with a Letter of Distinction.

Cross Country Healthcare is rated as the top staffing and recruiting employer for women by InHerSights, and CertifiedTM by Great Place to Work®. For two consecutive years, we have received the Top Workplaces USA award and the Top Workplaces Award for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Practices, and were recently recognized as a recipient of the Top Workplaces Award for Innovation and Leadership by Energage, and the Women Executive Leadership Elevate Award recognizing gender diversity in our Boardroom.

Copies of this and other news releases, as well as additional information about Cross Country Healthcare, can be obtained online at ir.crosscountryhealthcare.com. Stockholders and prospective investors can also register to automatically receive the Company’s press releases, filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and other notices by e-mail.

Can Hiring Retired Clinicians Help Hospitals with Staffing Shortages?

(Edited from Advisory Board Daily Briefing, 12/21/2022)

As hospitals and health systems continue to struggle with staffing shortages, some have begun recruiting recently retired physicians and nurses to help fill in care gaps and mentor younger workers, Mari Devereaux writes for Modern Healthcare.

Some Health Systems Turn to Retired Clinicians.

Amid persistent staffing issues, some health systems are now turning to social and professional networks to recruit local retired clinicians. Some have also employed national agencies to find “locum tenens” clinicians who are either close to retirement age or recently retired.

For example, Bayhealth recently hired more than 200 retired nurses after the Delaware Healthcare Association sent out a letter requesting help. With this new influx of workers, hospital representatives say they have been able to start turning the corner on staffing problems.

Although new technology has sometimes been a barrier for retired clinicians, Bayhealth offers retirees training courses and often pairs them with a nurse who handles charting and documentation in the EHR while they handle more hands-on care. The retired clinicians also have opportunities to share their years of experience and give feedback on different areas of operations that could be improved.

Each Generation Has Its Strengths.

“Each generation brings something to the forefront,” said Angel Dewey, Bayhealth’s director of education.  “My favorite thing about the baby boomers is they are workhorses. They are ride or die. The millennials and the Gen Z [workers] are super good with computers and all that technical stuff. So they play off of each other a little bit.”

In general, returning clinicians will work at a lower capacity than before, often at part-time hours. At Bayhealth, formerly retired nurses are usually scheduled for four- to six-hour shifts instead of the typical 12-hour shift.

“The idea is not to force people back into the workforce; it’s to give an option to people who perhaps haven’t planned their retirement well enough, who are bored and who feel that they could benefit from giving back to medicine,” said Derek Raghavan, president of Advocate Health’s Levine Cancer Institute. “And it gives patients and younger doctors the benefit of vast expertise from really good doctors who love medicine and can continue.”

Although coming back to work after retirement isn’t for everyone, it can be beneficial for clinicians who can find a role with a strong support system, according to Samuel Zimmern, a cardiologist at the Levine Cancer Institute.

“I want to continue as long as I feel like I can do a good job for my patients,” Zimmern said. “I’m just going to keep assuming they’ll have me until I get to the point where I’m worried that I’m going to lose the skill and intellect needed to take care of these patients correctly.”

Is Relying on Retired Clinicians the Best Solution?

Although some health systems have seen benefits from hiring former clinicians, not everyone in the staffing industry believes it is the most effective use of an organization’s administrative and financial resources.

“It’s a strategy that many health systems have tried and it has failed for the most part, because retired nurses are not coming back,” said Iman Abuzeid, CEO and co-founder of Incredible Health, a nurse hiring platform. “Hospitals need to focus on the generations that are in the workforce and are actively working.”

Devereaux writes that one potential barrier to hiring former clinicians is the cost, as they are often higher rates than regular clinicians. According to Bill Heller, EVP of sales for CHG Healthcare, short-term locum tenens labor has seen a 10% to 20% increase in interest over the last few years, and these physicians earn an average of $32.45 more per hour than permanent physicians.

Licensing Is a Potential Challenge.

Another potential hurdle for retired clinicians is licensing, especially if they have not practiced medicine for several years. Depending on how long they’ve been retired, where they live, and how much their skills have deteriorated, clinicians may have to show they are competent before they can provide care.

Although some states, such as Arizona and Indiana, have allowed recently retired clinicians to gain temporary licenses during the pandemic, these are scheduled to expire soon. Another option is for clinicians to renew their credentials through recertification organizations, such as the Center for Personalized Education for Professionals (CPEP).

Retraining may take between three and six months, but individuals who have been out of practice for longer periods may take longer to complete the necessary classes. In addition, these classes can be expensive, costing participants between $3,000 and $10,000 a month.

“Clinicians who have been out more than a couple of years probably will have a lot of learning to do in the areas of technology, [including] electronic medical records, patient portals, and communicating with patients,” said Elizabeth Grace, CPEP’s medical director.

Solomon Page Awarded Healthcare Staffing Services Certification from The Joint Commission

(Edited from Solomon Page news release, 12/22/2022)

Solomon Page Staffing Solutions and Executive Search has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® for Health Care Staffing Services Certification by demonstrating continuous compliance with its performance standards. The Gold Seal is a symbol of quality that reflects a healthcare organization’s commitment to providing safe and quality patient care.

Solomon Page Healthcare Staffing specializes in placing travel nurses and locum tenens at hospitals and long-term care facilities. The Health Care Staffing Services Certification demonstrates Solomon Page’s efforts to address how the qualifications and competencies of staff are determined and how their performance is monitored.

Solomon Page underwent a rigorous review the week of December 5, 2022. During the visit, a Joint Commission reviewer evaluated certification standards, including compliance, credentialing, onboarding, and training of the company’s healthcare staff. JCAHO standards are developed in consultation with healthcare experts and providers, measurement experts, and patients. The reviewers also conducted onsite observations and interviews.

“Health Care Staffing Services Certification recognizes health care staffing firms committed to fostering continuous quality improvement in patient safety and quality of care,” says Mark Pelletier, RN, MS, chief operating officer, Accreditation and Certification Operations, and chief nursing executive, The Joint Commission. “We commend Solomon Page for using certification to strengthen its program structure and management framework, as well as to enhance its staff recruitment and development processes.”

“This certification represents a major achievement for Solomon Page and represents our commitment to quality and continuous improvement as we provide service to both our clients and candidates alike,” Solomon Page Chief Human Resources Officer Kathy Brown says. “We are thrilled to be recognized in this way by the Joint Commission.”

Solomon Page’s team held compliance calls to prepare for the certification process and implemented new training and onboarding procedures for consultants. They also introduced multiple process improvement plans and new initiatives to ensure they maintain standard service levels.

Founded in 1990, Solomon Page supplies staff and executives across an array of functions and industries. 

For more information, visit The Joint Commission and Solomon Page.

Report: New York Hospitals on Brink with Staffing Shortages, Financial Woes

(Lightly edited from New York Post article by Carl Campanile, 12/14/2022)

New York hospitals are reeling as they still struggle to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic. Half the facilities reported slashing or eliminating services because of staffing shortages, while two-thirds said they’re operating in the red, a shocking new industry report revealed.

“One-hundred percent of hospitals report nursing shortages they cannot fill. More than 75% said other key worker positions cannot be filled, directly impacting the accessibility of healthcare services,” according to the study released recently by the NYS Health Care Association.

It revealed that 64% of hospitals report a negative operating margin — meaning they’re spending more than they’re taking in — and 85% report operating margins of less than 3%.

The report said labor and other medical costs continue to rise while pandemic-related government assistance is ending, which means “hospitals’ dire fiscal crisis is likely to only get worse.”

“Hospitals’ continued viability as healthcare providers and key job creators in their communities is in immediate jeopardy,” the report said.

The study said 77% of hospitals reported delaying or canceling building and improvement projects because of fiscal stress, actions that could erode the accessibility of healthcare services.

The One Brooklyn Health Network — overseeing Interfaith, Brookdale, and Kinsgbrook Jewish hospitals — was recently victimized by a cyber hacking incident that shut down its computer database systems.

About a quarter of hospitals (27%) report being at risk of defaulting on existing loans, the survey said.

The warning comes as hospitals grapple with a potentially challenging winter as they confront a triple whammy of coronavirus, flu, and RSV cases.

Some hospitals were hollowed out by a staff exodus precipitated by the grueling once-in-a-century COVID-19 outbreak, said Kenneth Raske, president of the Greater New York Hospital Association.

“The pandemic was hell on the staff. They had the emotional toll of seeing so many patients die,” Raske told The Post. “Some took early retirements and others left the field.”

Meanwhile, the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for staffers also caused thousands to leave or be fired, other sources noted. 

The shortage forced hospitals to hire more contract workers, whose salaries are significantly higher than in-house staff, which “just blew out the expense budgets,” Raske said.

“Our hospitals continue to face relentless financial pressures, including a pandemic in its third year.  Without a financial margin, hospitals cannot invest in the necessary services and facilities to modernize our healthcare delivery system. The hospital community looks forward to working with New York policymakers to address this crisis.”

The report’s release came just weeks before Gov. Kathy Hochul unveils her second State of the State address and budget plan when the legislature reconvenes in January.

Raske said Hochul had been “terrific” in grasping the problem — this year, she set aside state funds to pay healthcare workers bonuses as a recruitment tool.

He said he recently sat down with outgoing state budget director Robert Mujica and recommended that the state increase the Medicaid reimbursement rates to hospitals to help recoup costs.

Medicaid is a government-funded insurance program for the needy, but it doesn’t fully cover the costs of services provided, hospital executives complain.

Raske also said the state has to cough up millions of additional dollars to keep safety net hospitals from closing. The state budget provides $800 million in the current budget to medical facilities that operate in the city’s poorest neighborhoods.

He also said Albany needs to intervene to prevent “abuses” from commercial health insurers, who deny bills for services provided to patients at a rate of more than 20% — among the highest refusal rates in the country.

Bea Grause, president of the Health Care Association of New York State, said, “Three out of five hospitals are underwater, and the fourth is on thin ice. We face a very real danger of hospitals closing, patients losing care, healthcare workers losing their jobs, and communities losing their lifeblood.”

From 2019 to 2022, hospital labor costs increased by 17%, driven by a 134% increase in hospitals’ contract staffing costs, or an average annual increase of 33% per year.

Labor costs aren’t the only challenge. From 2019 to 2022, New York hospitals said drug costs shot up 42%, supply and equipment costs went up 20%, and energy costs surged 21%. 

“Government help is needed right now to sustain the current workforce, bolster the pipeline of new healthcare workers, and fix longstanding reimbursement shortcomings that threaten patient access to care in communities across the state,” the report said.

Hochul spokesman Justin Mason said, “Governor Hochul is committed to replenishing New York’s healthcare workforce and building the healthcare system of tomorrow, which is evidenced by the historic five-year, $20-billion investment she secured for this purpose in this year’s state budget.

“As the legislative session approaches, Governor. Hochul looks forward to working with the legislature to address many of the challenges described in this survey and ensuring that all New Yorkers have access to high quality healthcare throughout our state.”

Tools to Try/News to Use

Join us at the NAPR/NALTO® 2023 Annual Convention
February 5-7, 2023 in San Antonio, Texas!

General Information

Don’t miss out! Attend the 2023 NAPR/NALTO® Annual Convention, February 5-7, 2023, in San Antonio, Texas. Start the new year off at San Antonio’s famous River Walk.

No matter where you lie in the locum tenens landscape, there is a place for you at this conference. 

Connect, consult, and convene, but what does that really mean?

Collaborate with colleagues.

The NAPR/NALTO® Annual Convention delivers the face-to-face networking and peer learning experiences that our industry values: Find common ground. Share ideas. Discover a different perspective. Get reacquainted with old friends and meet new ones!

Connect with top-level speakers and industry experts.

The work of the NAPR/NALTO® Convention Planning Committee ensures you’ll learn from the industry’s best. From the opening keynote to the closing session, gain the critical knowledge, tools, and resources you need to succeed.

Consult with trusted partners.

Our interactive exhibit hall lets you explore innovative solutions for the challenges you face every day. Strengthen relationships with existing vendors or forge relationships with new ones.

Convene with confidence.

The Hyatt Regency San Antonio Riverwalk is committed to ongoing engagement with medical experts as well as federal, state, and local officials for the health and safety of its guests and employees. View the hotel’s full health and safety commitment here.

Count on gaining a wealth of industry knowledge by attending this conference–knowledge to help jumpstart your career or business into a powerful new year!

View Agenda Here

Registration Fees

Registration includes all general and concurrent sessions, Sunday night Presidents’ Welcome Reception, Monday’s Networking Luncheon, Monday night social event, two continental breakfasts, and all refreshment breaks. 

Register today!

Building Trust and Loyalty in the Age of Staff Shortages

(Edited from Becker’s Hospital Review, 12/21/2022)

Tuesday, January 17th, 2023 | 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM CT

For many healthcare organizations, 2022 was the most difficult year financially since the start of the pandemic.

Healthcare organizations’ growth and customer retention are increasingly tied to patient experience. It’s clear that the path to financial sustainability is dependent on delivering simpler, more convenient, and more patient-centric experiences tuned to people’s changing needs.

But many hospitals and medical groups still use a lot of labor-intensive and time-consuming processes that make it hard for patients to get quality experiences, which, in the end, hurt revenue and the quality of care.

To succeed, healthcare leaders must transform the patient experience into a competitive differentiator. Manage ever-changing consumer expectations, and navigate an exacerbated workforce shortage – all in a unique, inflationary environment.

Join our experts from Prime Healthcare, OrthoWest, and Steer Health as they share insights and learnings on how intelligent automation helps healthcare organizations meet and exceed patient expectations across the healthcare journey, setting themselves up for success.

Key Takeaways

Hospital and health system executives will share insights including

  • How streamlining existing patient access, navigation, and rounding workflows with digitization and self-service can reveal unparalleled benefits.
  • The importance of integration, staff adoption, and secure operational support in improving access to care and patient loyalty.
  • How advances in healthcare technology can help ease care transitions and keep patients around longer.
  • How optimized workflows improve documentation, efficiency, and reimbursement.
  • The tried-and-true methods of utilizing AI technology to win over patients’ confidence and loyalty.
Presenters include
  • Sunny Bhatia, MD, MMM, FACHE, FACC, FSCAI
    Chief Executive Officer, Region I Corporate Chief Medical Officer, Prime Healthcare
  • Farzad Massoudi, M.D., F.A.C.S.
    President, Orange County Neurosurgical Associates, Laguna Hills, CA
  • Ledford Powell, MD, FACS, FCCP
    President, Pacific Thoracic Surgery, Laguna Hills, CA
  • Payam Farjoodi, MD
    Robotic and Minimally Invasive Spine Surgeon, OrthoWest, Fountain Valley, CA
  • Sridhar Yerramreddy
    Founder & CEO, Steer Health

Socially Speaking

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How ‘Bout This?

‘Gaslighting’ is 2022’s word of the year. Healthcare is not immune to its flame.

(Edited from Becker’s Hospital Review article by Alexis Kayser, 11/30/2022)

“Gaslighting” was Merriam-Webster’s word of the year in 2022, the dictionary announced Nov. 28. As “gaslighting” has become more pervasive in the English language, it has gained associations with the medical field — albeit less obvious ones than last year’s word, “vaccine.” 

Gaslighting — “the act or practice of grossly misleading someone especially for one’s own advantage,” as defined by Merriam-Webster — saw a 1,740 percent increase in lookups during 2022, the dictionary reported. 

“In this age of misinformation — of ‘fake news,’ conspiracy theories, Twitter trolls and deepfakes — gaslighting has emerged as a word for our time,” according to Merriam-Webster. According to recent Google trends, it has also emerged as a word for condescending physicians. 

In April 2022, the term “medical gaslighting” hit its highest search rate since 2006. It peaked again in August. June was the only month in 2022 that “medical gaslighting” was never searched on Google, displaying a newfound steady interest in the term. 

Articles Offer Insight

A slew of articles emerged in the spring with “medical gaslighting” in their headlines. A March 28 article in The New York Times applied the term to many women’s experiences of feeling talked down to by their physicians, who might blame their symptoms on a lack of self-care, mental health problems, or weight. This could contribute to more frequent misdiagnoses in women, the article alleged. 

One story featured in the Times article was that of Michelle Cho, a medical student diagnosed with allergies and pregnancy before finally learning she had systemic lupus erythematosus. By the time she was correctly diagnosed, she had developed kidney failure, a heart murmur, and pneumonia.

“I left [my physician’s office] each time feeling disappointed, sad, and uneasy because I knew they had not solved my problem or helped me in any way, and it had been yet another wasted day,” Ms. Cho told the Times. “It felt like they were saying, ‘It’s all in my head.'”

Another woman featured in the article, a writer named Raimey Gallant, was told she was “young, healthy, and just lazy,” by her male doctor after experiencing weight loss, hair loss, full-body rashes, and debilitating period pains. She was later diagnosed with Graves’ Disease and endometriosis. 

Jennifer Mieres, a cardiologist for New Hyde Park, N.Y.-based Northwell Health, told the Times that when “women show up with symptoms that don’t fit into the algorithm we’re taught in medical school,” they get “gaslit and ignored.”

“Medical gaslighting” was also a topic on a March episode of Today. A Washington Post columnist wrote an article on it in April. The headline of a May Insider article read: “Doctors told a 29-year-old she had anxiety and that she was ‘too young for cancer.’ She had stage 4 kidney cancer.” 

Women Aren’t Alone

Women are not the only patients who have related to “medical gaslighting.” Patients of color have used it to describe their experiences receiving healthcare, the American Migraine Foundation has characterized it as a concern for those with “invisible diseases,” and a study published to the National Library of Medicine has linked the term to patients with long COVID-19 symptoms who are frequently dismissed by their physicians. 

Geriatric, overweight, and LGBTQ+ patients are also more likely to be medically gaslit, The New York Times reported on July 29. 

“I always tell my patients that they are the expert of their body,” Nicole Mitchell, MD, director of diversity, equity, and inclusion for the obstetrics and gynecology department at Los Angeles-based University of Southern California’s medical school, told the Times

“Doctors need to be held accountable.”

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