The healthcare industry has always been demanding, but in recent years, burnout among clinicians and other healthcare professionals has reached unprecedented levels. As a consequence of the pandemic's toll on their physical and mental well-being, 18 percent of healthcare workers have resigned from their positions, with a significant number contemplating a similar course. The American Hospital Association predicts that due to burnout and retirement, more than 600,000 additional nurses will leave the workforce by 2027.
This nursing shortage is exerting significant pressure on healthcare teams, forcing them to work extended hours with reduced support staff. Although training a new generation of healthcare professionals remains a viable long-term solution, hospitals are facing an immediate need for skilled and experienced professionals to alleviate the strain. Moreover, the constantly evolving healthcare landscape, marked by technological advancements and new treatment approaches, underscores the need for a knowledgeable and skilled workforce. Healthcare institutions simply can’t afford to invest all of their resources in training inexperienced staff; they must make retaining their already trained workforce a priority.
How retention impacts patient outcomes
In an industry where the most important outcome is patient health, engaged healthcare workers play a pivotal role in enhancing patient care. One study discovered that a 25 percent increase in nurse job satisfaction over a two-year span was correlated with an overall improvement in the quality of care ranging from 5 to 20 percent. Elevating the happiness of healthcare workers can significantly enhance patient outcomes through the following mechanisms:
- Enhanced continuity of care: Having familiar faces during a hospital stay can foster higher levels of patient satisfaction and trust. This continuity of care also translates into improved patient outcomes, as healthcare providers gain a better understanding of each patient's medical history and unique requirements.
- More seasoned professionals: Improved retention leads to more seasoned healthcare professionals within your workforce who likely feel more comfortable dealing with a variety of circumstances and emergencies. Experienced healthcare pros tend to provide more accurate diagnoses and treatment plans for patients, resulting in patient-focused care with fewer complications and improved results.
- Effective guidance for new team members: Novice healthcare professionals can benefit from shadowing senior staff members and learning the best practices for patient care.
- Reduced hospital stays and readmissions: Hospitals with adequate staffing levels tend to provide better initial care. A study revealed that for every additional patient assigned to a nurse's workload, there is a 6-9 percent increase in readmissions for conditions like pneumonia and heart failure. Additionally, there is an 11 percent increase in readmissions for hospitalized children.
- Resource optimization: By reducing the time and resources spent on onboarding, training, and hiring new professionals, your organization can allocate more resources to patient care and continuing education.
The positive influence of retention on value-based care
The healthcare industry's shift towards value-based care—where an organization's reimbursement is linked to the actual patient outcomes of procedures—underscores the heightened significance of achieving better patient outcomes. These outcomes can directly impact the financial well-being of your healthcare business.
In addition to reducing training and onboarding expenses, retention and improved patient outcomes can yield the following financial benefits:
- Increased revenue and financial rewards: Revenue in value-based care is intrinsically tied to patient outcomes, making enhanced patient outcomes a direct driver of increased revenue.
- A reduction in medical errors and unnecessary procedures: The presence of experienced staff fosters an environment conducive to reducing medical errors and unnecessary procedures. This contributes to cost savings and an overall improvement in patient care.
- Diminished malpractice costs: A commitment to improved patient outcomes often results in fewer malpractice claims and lowered malpractice insurance premiums.
How to improve retention for healthcare professionals
Over 80 percent of health industry executives say attracting and retaining talent is a moderate or serious risk factor for their businesses. Those businesses who make retention a priority will give themselves a leg up when it comes to improving patient care and overall operational efficiency.