State of the US Healthcare Labor Shortage in 13 Compelling Numbers

Published: June 16, 2022
State of US Healthcare Shortage
13 Compelling Statistics on US Healthcare Labor Shortage

On Pharmacy Supply Chain Challenges

Attaining the best possible standard of health, improving health systems, and providing better quality and accessible patient care are only possible through healthcare workers’ perseverance and dedication. 

Today, the industry faces a problem: there are not enough healthcare workers to match the rising demand brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Physicians, nurses, and other essential health sector employees are joining the “Great Resignation” wave, leading to a significant healthcare labor shortage.

In 2021, the global pharmaceutical logistics market was valued at $78.5 billion, and industry analysts expect the market size to expand at a CAGR of 8.6% within the next eight years. The fast-paced growth of the pharmaceutical logistics sector is due to the unexpected challenges brought about by COVID-19.

Since the pandemic created an unprecedented global health crisis, healthcare facilities experienced a growing demand for medicinal supplies. However, the healthcare labor shortage also affected pharmaceutical companies, making it challenging to deliver medicines and essential supplies on time.

Studies have found that 70% of pharmaceutical companies faced significant supply chain issues, decreasing the in-full delivery of medicines by 50% during the early months of the pandemic. A McKinsey report also found that 50% of pharma executives see sole-sourcing as their main vulnerability, while 25% worry about the lack of visibility in supplier risks.

On the Shortage of Nurses

The importance of nurses in the healthcare industry cannot be overstated. They are the unsung heroes of the medical profession, often assisting physicians, working directly with patients in their treatment and care, and taking on a wide range of responsibilities.

During the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, nurses were often on the frontline, juggling roles as they dealt with the sudden influx of new patients. The current healthcare labor shortage is happening primarily because many of these nurses experienced significant stress and burnout, leading them to want to switch careers. 

Before the pandemic, the healthcare industry was already dealing with a dwindling number of available nurses, including an aging population of 1 million registered nurses over 50. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that there will be nearly 200,000 unfilled nursing positions through 2029, many of which will be due to voluntary resignations and retirement.

On the Shortage of Doctors and Physicians

The decreasing number of registered nurses is not the only symptom of the current healthcare labor shortage. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), there will be a significant physician shortage by 2023, ranging between 54,100 and 139,000 projected deficits.

Both nurses and physicians experienced pandemic burnout. In a recent survey, many of them reported that they did not gain access to the physical and mental health treatment they needed to work through their pandemic stress and trauma.

On the Root Causes of the Healthcare Worker Shortage

The current healthcare labor crisis as we know it was magnified by the challenges caused by COVID-19, but experts in the industry say that the worker shortage problems started even before the pandemic. Many hospital administrators struggled to address staffing issues because the healthcare sector necessitates long, taxing schedules, high demand for quality patient care, and pay discrepancy problems.

Industry analysts say that the healthcare labor shortage is not about finding people willing to work in the medical profession but an issue of access and retention. For instance, some people may want to become nurses or physicians but lack access to quality education systems. Some healthcare facilities are also not adequately equipped to train new employees or lack proper mental health support and retention policies or provisions.

Read More: 5 Biggest Challenges in Improving Patient Experience in 2022 That Healthcare Outsourcing Can Address

How Can the Healthcare Industry Address the Current Labor Crisis?

Now that we’ve discussed the causes and effects of the healthcare labor shortage, let’s talk about how the industry can navigate these challenges. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities can minimize the impact of the worker shortage by investing in automation, fighting for policies supporting the industry, and opting for healthcare specialty outsourcing services.

Invest in Automation and Other Innovative Technologies

The healthcare sector has stretched its workforce to the limit, especially at the height of the pandemic. One solution to help reduce the workload of nurses, physicians, and other existing healthcare workers is by embracing new technologies and advancements that can help streamline many healthcare processes.

Many hospitals and healthcare facilities have started investing in artificial intelligence, robotic processes, machine learning, and other innovations to automate repetitive high-volume tasks. These developments allow healthcare workers to focus on treatment and patient care, minimizing the tedious tasks they have to take on and supplement the workforce amid the labor shortage.

Fight for Strong Government Policies Supporting the Healthcare Industry

As discussed in previous sections, the healthcare industry faced worker shortage problems even before the pandemic. The accessibility of education and training programs, lack of mental and physical health support, low wages, taxing schedules, and demanding workloads are why many decide to leave the medical profession.

For this reason, addressing the current healthcare labor shortage should not only be focused on short-term solutions that deal with COVID-19 challenges. Fighting for long-term policies and provisions, such as raising wages for healthcare workers, increasing access to education and training, and creating programs for mental health support, can help more hospitals attract and retain more staff in the long run.

Additionally, the WHO found that most health and social workers (70%) are women. During “The Great Resignation,” 1 in 3 women considered switching careers or leaving the workforce entirely. The main reason for this trend is that women are still expected to bear the brunt of household management and caregiving responsibilities. So, providing childcare benefits or support for healthcare workers may also help alleviate the labor crisis.

Read More: Top 5 Ways the Women Workforce Can Help Rebuild Your Company Amid ‘The Great Resignation’

Partner With a Specialty Healthcare Outsourcing Provider

One of the most effective ways to solve the healthcare labor shortage is working with a BPO provider. Automation can do wonders for streamlining specific healthcare processes, but some essential tasks and responsibilities still require a human touch, and this is where healthcare outsourcing can come in handy.

For example, instead of letting your existing staff get swamped with outpatient calls and teleconsult requests, reduce their workload by investing in a call center specializing in healthcare concerns. Some BPO providers also handle medical billing and coding, insurance claim processing, medical transcription, and other specialty healthcare outsourcing services. 

Read More: How the Most Common Healthcare Outsourcing Services Can Help Lighten Workload For Hospital Professionals

Navigate the Labor Shortage By Partnering With a Reputable Specialty Healthcare Outsourcing Provider

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the medical industry, increasing the demand for better quality and more accessible healthcare. At SuperStaff, we want to assist healthcare providers in navigating the new normal and addressing problems caused by the healthcare labor shortage.

Operating under the guidance of our healthcare and biopharma parent company, SuperStaff is fully equipped with the dedicated professionals and top-of-the-line technology needed to meet the needs of our healthcare clients. Whether you need help attending to patient inquiries or performing medical coding, trust that our capable team can handle the tasks and responsibilities you send our way.

Our specialty healthcare outsourcing services can empower your frontline staff and allow you to focus on providing the best possible patient care. Contact us today for more information!

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