Hospitals are facing a nursing shortage nationwide. This includes Registered Nurses (RNs) and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs). This is because many current nurses are entering the retirement age and faculty shortages are limiting the acceptance of more nursing students. With that being said, due to the nursing shortage, costs to retain nurses have skyrocketed. The CFO of West Tennessee Healthcare stated that the rate for a nurse can go “…as high as $150 an hour” (Healthcare Innovation). Staffing challenges have been ongoing for years and the shortages have been intensified by the pandemic. According to a survey conducted by Cartis, 99% of healthcare organizations are experiencing staffing issues. Out of the respondents, 37% think the staffing will improve, 30% think it will stay the same, and 30% think it will get worse.
Changes in Reimbursement
Due to the shortage of nursing students, the rate at which CRNAs are graduating is not keeping up with market demand. There is a rising demand for surgeries despite a rise in non-operating room anesthesia procedures. There is a decrease in the number of medical personnel who can perform these services, which in turn has added pressure on staff and medical facilities. Ultimately, there has been decreases in reimbursement from government and private payers due to the rising costs of anesthesia providers and anesthetists’ salaries along with the rising demand of CRNAs. To regulate this, hospitals have been making up the difference through subsidies. According to Becker’s ASC Review, “Currently about 80 percent of private and employer-based anesthesia practices are receiving some kind of subsidy.” Subsidies are now involved to assist organizations since reimbursements are not covering the costs of anesthetists’ salaries.
Upper management and CFOs of medical practices are finding ways to alleviate staffing issues. Technology, such as AI tools, will be leveraged to perform some job functions such as automated phone calls and computer-assisted coding. Hospitals are utilizing another approach such as contracting anesthetists’ instead of employing. Additionally, leaders are looking to design staffing models that decrease staff overtime.
Anesthesia is facing disruptions throughout the country due to rising demand, staff shortages, and decreasing reimbursements. Medical facilities and healthcare leaders are trying to combat these challenges by integrating AI technology to support clinicians and patients. This technology will lead to more productivity and efficiency in the workplace and help lessen the financial impact.
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- Reviving Workforce Resilience: 2022 Healthcare Workforce Survey | Chartis