Healthcare chief strategy officers are tasked with leading their organization's strategic planning and helping to ensure that the delivery of healthcare services meets the needs of their patients and providers. However, the post-pandemic landscape has become a challenging event for these healthcare executives.
In order to stay ahead of these challenges and continue providing quality care, CSOs must be flexible and innovative in their approach. Before implementing any strategies, they must be able to pinpoint the pressing issues that they are facing, which is what we will be focusing on in this article.
The Current and Future Shortage of Healthcare Workers
The COVID-19 pandemic took existing healthcare workforce challenges and staffing shortages, and exacerbated the situation.
In the first two months of the pandemic, the healthcare system lost an estimated 1.5 million jobs because of the temporary closing and restriction of clinics and non-emergency services.
Recent industry reports have disturbing news about the current state and future projections for shortages of healthcare workers. Here is the data for more insights:
According to a survey by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), there's a severe shortage of pharmacy technicians, with over 50% of pharmacy administrators surveyed reporting a turnover rate of over 21% in 2021.
A recent report from McKinsey said that the United States could have a deficit of between 200,000 and 450,000 registered nurses by 2025.
Another report from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) predicted the U.S. could see shortages between 37,800 to 124,000 physicians by 2034.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that with the expected numbers of nurses retiring from the field or changing occupations, there will be a shortage of over 1 million registered nurses across the country by 2030.
A Mercer report says that within the next five years, the U.S. will face a projected shortage of over 3 million lower-wage healthcare workers. These roles include nursing assistants, medical assistants, and home health aides.
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Evolving Consumer Demands
Thanks to the transition towards value-based healthcare, patients will become the center of the healthcare model in the future. Health will be holistically defined as the overall wellness of the patient, including their physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, patients have had more access to healthcare information than ever before. As a result, they are becoming more informed and diligent about their health.
This shift turned patients into traditional consumers seeking more personalized, convenient, transparent, and affordable healthcare.
A 2021 PwC survey of over 1000 consumers shed some interesting light on their needs, engagement preferences, and willingness to pay for various healthcare products and services.
- Consumers Want Healthcare Systems to Come to Them - Consumers are receiving care in non-traditional sites like home, workplace, retail, or alternative clinics.
- Almost Half of Consumers Are Not Loyal to Their Current Providers - Consumers who are satisfied with their current provider are still looking for alternative choices.
- The Demand For Virtual Care is Growing - More than 65% of consumers who use virtual care want to maintain or increase their access to it. Additionally, around 90% of the consumers who used virtual care were highly satisfied with their virtual providers.
- Consumers Are Willing to Pay More for On-Demand, Personalized Services - Consumers are looking to healthcare systems to help them with several issues, like managing critical illnesses, taking care of elderly family members, and having family-wide services available in one location.
Healthcare systems need to develop a broad ecosystem of services that can allow them to offer consumers convenient, customizable personal care.
The Shift to Value-Based Healthcare
Some drivers to a VBC model include unsustainable costs and the federal government's endorsement of new payment approaches.
The monetary investment in moving from the FFS payment structure to a VBC model is substantial. While some healthcare systems are moving quickly to transition to VBC, others are hesitating.
Why? Because the transition will be expensive, and the current FFS model is still highly profitable for many healthcare systems.
Barriers in Moving to a Value-Based Healthcare System
There are many barriers for healthcare systems in transitioning towards a value-based model. All of these challenges will need to be addressed before they can make the change, for example:
- Limited Internal Resources - Many healthcare systems are already overburdened and short-staffed, and getting them to buy into and help execute the new plan is challenging. Personnel shortages include the need for value-based wrap-around care like registered nurses, medical assistants, pharmacists, and home-health aids.
- Difficulty Collecting and Reporting Clinical Data - VBC is based on coordination between healthcare providers, so having easy access to patient data is critical. Preventive medicine and effective care coordination are incredibly challenging when healthcare systems have difficulty collecting and reporting patient information.
- Unpredictable Revenue Streams - The bottom line for many healthcare systems is still the bottom line. Beyond the costs of transitioning and implementing a VBC system, understanding and predicting its incoming revenue is as equally as important.
- System Integrations - Interoperability issues have been a persistent problem for healthcare providers, especially as technology evolves and advances. Healthcare systems that use various isolated technology platforms that lack communication with one another are one of the most significant challenges facing the shift to VBC.
It's only a matter of time before healthcare systems move to a VBC model because all of the participants will benefit from it. Chief Strategy Officers must be able to steward their healthcare systems carefully during the transition.
AI Chat Technology Is a Critical Tool for the Healthcare Chief Strategy Officer
AI chat technology like Clearstep's Smart Care Routing™ is a critical tool that Chief Strategy Officers can use to address their challenges and opportunities. This advanced technology plays multiple roles, such as:
- Virtual Triage can help patients easily access a quick, accurate diagnosis, reducing unnecessary trips to the doctor or ER. Reducing unnecessary trips also reduces the drain on healthcare system employees.
- Patient Services can automate key patient-consumer touchpoints like finding a doctor, scheduling an appointment, pricing transparency, and insurance eligibility. It can also integrate with EHR/EMR/CMS systems to automate complex clinical workflows like prescription refills, bill payments, and scheduling follow-up appointments. Automating these steps helps reduce administrative burdens on the healthcare system's team members.
- Clinical Journeys is a customized healthcare management system that helps to automate the post-diagnosis and post-discharge follow-up of patients. It does so through chat-based interactions by tracking the progression or regression of their symptoms.
AI chat technology can improve the patient/consumer experience and help make healthcare systems more efficient.
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Healthcare Chief Strategy Officers Face Tough Decisions
Healthcare Chief Strategy Officers face some daunting issues as they guide their healthcare systems into the post-pandemic era.
The great resignation, stress, and burnout have led many healthcare professionals out of the industry. Even as the numbers rebound to pre-pandemic employment levels, many projections predict future medical worker shortages across the industry.
Patients are starting to view their healthcare as their healthcare, acting like consumers, and expecting more and more from the systems.
The healthcare industry is moving from a fee-based to a value-based system focusing more on outcomes than volume. As a result, this field must navigate the transition carefully.
Choosing the right AI chat platform, like Clearstep's Smart Care Routing™, can help Chief Strategy Officers guide their healthcare systems through difficult times. Increasing patient satisfaction and retention while maximizing the efficiency of a health system's personnel and resources.