Addressing staff burnout and increasing productivity are main priorities in the next 12 months for hospitals to resume profitable surgery at volume
BOSTON – November 30, 2021 – Lumeon, the leader in care journey orchestration, today announced the findings of its recent research report – The New Productivity Era for Perioperative Care – which explores the current challenges, opportunities, and priorities that U.S. healthcare leaders are facing. The research was gathered from a quantitative survey and qualitative interviews of 85 clinical and operational C-suite surgery leaders in October 2021. This round of research follows a similar research project completed last year after the first surge in COVID-19 cases, providing a helpful comparison.
The report found that staffing and safety are the major short-term issues for perioperative care teams in the next 12 months, with staff burnout and retention mentioned as one of the top three issues by 84% of the respondents. A notable thread throughout the survey revealed that problems with staffing are paramount as providers attempt to ramp back up to pre-COVID volumes and handle the backlog of delayed surgeries.
“The focus on the staffing problem is so strong that it’s reasonable to ask whether it’s reaching a crisis point,” states Cindy Gaines, RN, MSN, and Lumeon’s chief clinical transformation officer. “After almost two years of the pandemic, many nurses have retired or left the profession entirely. Many still practicing are burned out and stretched thin by challenging working conditions exacerbated by this staffing shortage. Finding ways to help care teams reduce the burden of manual and redundant administrative tasks while supporting their nurses to work at the top of their license should be paramount.”
According to 68% of the respondents who would like to digitize the care process for as many patients as possible in the next 12 months, virtualizing and automating the preoperative process is an immediate priority. Other short long-term priorities uncovered in the report include:
- Staff productivity is the no. 1 priority, and perioperative care is undergoing a capacity crunch with a perfect storm of issues forming over the next 1-3 years. Leaders are struggling to deal with staff burnout and retention, patient safety, and care coordination.
- Staff recruitment is also a high priority for many healthcare leaders. 60% of respondents saw recruitment as among providers’ top three short-term concerns, while 52% saw it among the top three long-term issues.
- 29% of patients are eager to reschedule their delayed elective surgeries, while 55% said they want to reschedule but are still concerned about safety. Patient confidence in safe surgery has increased since 2020 but is still low.
- Only 14% of organizations currently operate at greater than 90% capacity, which is a significant drop from the pre-COVID rate of 26% capacity. There is still some way to get back to pre-COVID levels, even though most state mandates for elective surgery reduction are no longer in place.
The top three technology challenges of perioperative care include data interoperability, mobile app support, and workflow. Over half believe that EHRs alone won’t meet all these future needs, and only 5% believe the EHR will fully satisfy them.
“This research demonstrates that surgery centers have their work cut out to recover from the pandemic. With staff burned out, patient anxiety high, and profitability concerns, surgery centers are looking beyond the EHR for new capabilities,” explains Robbie Hughes, CEO of Lumeon. Lumeon’s solution is simple yet powerful: helping surgery centers fast-track low-risk patients while freeing up staff capacity and lowering the cost of care. In addition, new guidance for History and Physical examinations from The Joint Commission and CMS came into force July 1, 2021. Surgery centers can now take advantage of this ruling and new technology to help identify and fast-track low-risk patients. It’s an exciting opportunity for those who quickly adopt care automation technologies.”
Lumeon’s work with a leading Integrated Delivery Network demonstrates that many healthy patients can benefit from a “fast-track” automated process. A digital care plan is being used to fast-track healthy patients, including a pre-operative assessment and personalized patient engagement, avoiding the need for on-site visits. Productivity significantly increased, with an 80% improvement in care team capacity, 91% of patient compliance with digital pathways, and an 87% reduction in face-to appointments.
It is positive news that providers are quickly bouncing back from the COVID pandemic and have recovered much of their surgery volume however, they are still struggling to ramp up to pre-pandemic levels because of staff burnout, nursing shortages, technology challenges, and more which compound the situation. They recognize that their work is cut out to return to 2019 surgery volumes and their focus is now turning to technology that can quickly ease the burden on staff.
Download the full report here.