Analytic Insight: Why Data is Key to Mitigating Staffing Shortages

Employee turnover was named one of the largest pandemic-related issues of the year. How can practices large and small mitigate resource shortages while continuing to operate on all cylinders? Analytics may hold the key to optimizing operations and revenue while navigating staffing woes.

One of the major ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the operations of healthcare organizations is through internal resources. Pandemic-related factors have caused major staffing shortages across all sectors and geographic areas, leading providers to reconsider how they run their businesses. In fact, the numbers show that turnover of clinical staff workers has increased from 18% to 30% since the start of the pandemic*1.  These shortages – either due to illness, burnout, budget reductions or the Great Resignation – threw a wrench in the standard operations of offices.

And while late 2021 numbers from The Bureau of Labor Statists showed positive gains, the truth is that many healthcare segments continue to try and navigate employee shortages and this issue shows no sign of disappearing. Because of this, it was found that 73 percent of medical practices rank staffing as their biggest pandemic challenge heading into 2022, according to a recent MGMA poll*.  3

The times are changing

The pandemic has brought many changes, and one thing is for sure: the way things have been done in the past may change if they haven’t already. According to renowned industry speaker Elizabeth Woodcock, “It’s about changing the way we work.”

So what steps can practices take to stay ahead of the changes? Perhaps traditional staffing models need to change. Current staffing models can be viewed as physician-centric and not aligned with the transition to value-based care. This mean many operations need to convert to a “patient-centered staffing model focused on resources ensuring accessible, convenient and affordable care,” according to Woodcock.
Taking a proactive approach is key. Perhaps outsourcing is something to consider. Short-term tactics like sign-on bonuses or adjusting processes to include things like work from home days can improve sentiment. A more long-term strategy involves investing in solutions that can make a difference. Automated solutions can help alleviate various complexities, specifically denials, rejections and patient access. Tools that automate scheduling needs and self-service collection applications are a few examples of products that can assist for the long term.

The role data plays

More patients are using high-deductible health plans and there is more emphasis on patient responsibility. This, coupled with factors like the staffing crisis and in addition to the move to value-based care, means identifying claims with a high percentage of patient responsibility is key. According to a recent article by Healthcare IT News, the Great Resignation has “highlighted the need to strategize and prioritize to more fully leverage a leaner staff, encouraging a hyper-focus on key analytical data that could net the most positive impact.”

With all of this, data becomes more important than ever for optimal reimbursement. A key tool that’s critical to the success of any business is a proper analytics program. Advanced analytics can help an organization by:

  • Providing real-time analysis
  • Identifying trends and patterns
  • Mitigating risk for any potential loss in revenue

Robust, easy-to-understand dashboards can identify trends and patterns, easily compare data and break down KPIs by NPI, Payer, CPT codes and more. Comprehensive data analysis also gives organizations the chance to “step back” and take a full assessment of activity. Additionally, benchmarking capabilities exist that will help you learn how your organization is performing against its peers, and identifying areas that need change. Needless to say, analytics are critical in the face of reduced staff.

Investing in the right data analysis tools mean that workflows can also be streamlined by identifying trends or issues, and then working toward remedies. In fact, a Midwestern health system improved physician productivity by 30% by consolidating and aggregating their data into a standard analytics package that called out areas with the most significant performance improvement opportunities. Costs most likely will also be reduced in the long run.

But adding in advanced analytics may not be as easy as it sounds. Sixty percent of providers cite “too much data” as the top barrier to implementing predictive analytics*. While the vast amount of data that exists within many organizations can be overwhelming, getting a grasp on the numbers no doubt has its benefits. Despite the proven benefits, executives are still facing barriers to implementing predictive analytics. Executives cite shifting barriers to adoption. For example, in 2017, “lack of budget” was the biggest challenge for both payers and providers. In 2018, there were three equal barriers to adoption: “lack of budget,” “regulatory issues” and “incomplete data.” This year, the staffing shortage came into play with “lack of skilled employees” seen as an equal challenge to the issues above.

So while it may not be easy, the benefits are vast. The bottom line is that companies need to learn to operate with leaner staff and smaller budgets. Because of this, analytics are a key component of an organization’s success. Every organization should have a robust analytics tool in place in order to have the transparency that places a spotlight on claims, thus improving cash flow and increasing revenue.

How healthy is your organization? If there is any pause, outside resources may be needed. Thankfully TPS can help your practice navigate reimbursement and any complexities your office may be experiencing.

Improve the overall health of your organization through data-driven decisions. Get started with Analytics from TriZetto Provider Solutions today.

*1 PINC AI Data
*2 Society of Actuaries 2019
*3 MGMA Stat Poll