Personnel shortages top list of issues facing hospitals

This is the first time in 18 years that financial challenges were not the top issue.

A survey of hospital CEOs found that personnel shortages topped the list of issues hospitals faced last year.

According to a news release from the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), this is the first time in 18 years that financial challenges was supplanted from the top spot on the rankings coming in second and patient safety and quality ranked third.

“This is the first time since 2004 that financial challenges have moved from the most significant challenge to the second position. Both long- and short-term solutions are needed to address the shortages in critical front-line staff shown in our study to ensure hospitals have workforces that can meet the demands for safe, high-quality care both today and in the future,” Deborah J. Bowen, president and CEO of ACHE, says in the release. “Longer term solutions include increasing the pipeline of staff to these positions, as well as organization-level efforts to increase staff retention. More immediate solutions include supporting and developing all staff, building staff resilience and exploring alternative models of care.”

Other top challenges included behavioral health/addiction issues, governmental mandates, access to care, and patient satisfaction.

The personnel shortages seem to be mainly clustered around support staff with 94 percent of respondents saying they have been able to find registered nurses, 85 percent say they can’t find technicians, and 67 percent say they can’t find therapists. Meanwhile 45 percent say they’re having difficulty finding primary care physicians, 43 percent can’t find physician specialists, and 31 percent can’t find physician extenders and specially certified nurses such as physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and certified nurse midwives, the release says.

Increased costs seem to be driving a vast majority of the financial challenges facing hospitals with 87 percent of respondents citing the costs for staff and supplies. A further 53 percent cite reducing operating costs, 52 percent cite Medicaid reimbursement, and 44 percent cited managed care and other commercial insurance payments, according to the release.