Imagine running a business that’s open 24/7, thrives on emergencies, and keeps going no matter what. Those are just a few of the things that hospitals face each day. Healthcare workers do wildly diverse jobs. Some are tasked with making tough business decisions that not everyone is going to like, while others handle face-to-face interactions, like breaking good and bad news to patients, helping children through difficult treatments, and soothing the nerves of those undergoing diagnostic tests. Others are responsible for equally diverse duties, such as keeping the facility in tip-top shape, making sure the staff is trained properly, and keeping the computer systems running smoothly — all in an effort to improve patient outcomes. In short, the health care industry is a world within a world, and while each day brings many rewards, there are also challenges.
At its annual conference Dec. 2, the American College of Health- care Executives of Southern California (ACHE of SoCal) explores “Practical Solutions for Global Healthcare Issues.” The board of directors of ACHE of SoCal includes Andrew Goldfrach, FACHE, chief operating officer of Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, and Shannon McDougal, MBA, CHSP, Executive Director, Enterprise EOC & Occupational Health and Safety for the City of Hope. The American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), the parent organization of the SoCal chapter, and other organizations, outline several challenges faced by the healthcare industry. Here are a few: Personnel Shortages. In a 2021 ACHE survey, hospital CEO’s ranked personnel shortages as their top concern. Financial challenges, which had led the rankings since 2004, was listed second.
Patient safety and quality ranked third. “This is the first time since 2004 that financial challenges has 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,” says Deborah J. Bowen, FACHE, CAE, president and CEO of ACHE. She adds that 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. In the survey, ACHE asked respondents to rank 11 issues affecting their hospitals in order of how pressing they are and to identify specific areas of concern within each of those issues. Following are some key results from the survey, which was sent to 1,327 community hospital CEOs who are ACHE members, of whom 310, or 23%, responded.
The issues cited by survey respondents were those of immediate concern and do not necessarily reflect ongoing hospital priorities, according to ACHE officials. But a 2022 study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported “that more than 275,000 additional nurses are needed from 2020 to 2030. Employment opportunities for nurses are projected to grow at a faster rate (9%) than all other occupations from 2016 through 2026.” Financial Challenges. In the meantime, the American Hospital Association notes that financial issues are also a challenge for health care providers, especially in the wake of the pandemic and amid inflation. “While federal support and relief has tapered off, the fight against COVID hasn’t,” said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack. The financial challenges faced by health care providers “deserves the immediate attention of policymakers at every level of government to ensure we are able to keep people healthy and maintain essential public services that our communities depend on.
America simply can’t be strong without its hospitals being strong,” Pollack adds. Other issues. Other healthcare industry sources identify additional issues hospitals and healthcare providers must deal with. Among them is maintaining computer systems that secure patient data, but can also handle the demands of telehealth. PrognoCIS, part of the Harris Computer company, has been in the electronic medical record and electronic health record market for more than 18 years. Officials there say that during the pandemic, virtual visits peaked in April 2020 to 78 times higher than their prior rate. Telehealth rates are 38 times higher than prepandemic levels, showing their popularity with patients, according to PrognoCIS. Executives at PrognoCIS say health care entities are tasked with being “tech experts, cybersecurity heroes, financial gurus, patient experience marvels, and so much more.” With that in mind, we applaud hospitals and medical centers in the Inland Empire with our annual Wellbie Awards, acknowledging the awards, accolades and certifications they have received.