Staffing shortage is the most critical issue in this current COVID-19 surge—not PPE, ventilators, or bed space.

In the United States, there has been a nursing shortage for years, but the pandemic has exacerbated that problem in ways like never before.

The healthcare system is losing nurses and other frontline healthcare workers to burnout or to better-paying and less stressful temporary jobs.

Some hospitals and health systems have already closed beds because of staffing shortages. For example, Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System closed 120 beds while Southfield-based Beaumont Health closed around 180 beds due to staffing challenges.

According to a survey by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly 30 percent of frontline healthcare workers reported that they have considered leaving the healthcare industry altogether due to pandemic-related burnout.

In Louisiana, the state’s largest hospital system (Ochsner) had to cancel 1,160 surgeries and procedures due to staffing shortages.

Exhausted or demoralized by the prolonged pandemic, nurses are quitting or retiring. Many are leaving for lucrative temporary jobs such as traveling nurses which pay $5,000 to $8,000 or more a week.

Before the pandemic, the average pay for a traveling nurse was roughly $1,000 to $2,000 per week, but now it is soaring. One job ad for a travel assignment in California was even at $12,000 a week.

This issue does not stop at nursing. The pandemic has also spurred early retirement for many physicians.

According to a Medscape survey, about 25 percent of physicians said they made plans for early retirement during the pandemic.

ASCs Are Losing the “Bidding War” for Nursing Staff

Nurse Bidding Power
Nurse Bidding Power

Surgery centers are also navigating their own staffing challenges amidst this current surge.

With the nationwide nursing shortage, ASCs are losing on staff recruitment and retention as nurses jump to high-paying hospital contracts with big sign-on bonuses.

One health system offered new nurses and patient care and lab associates up to $20,000 signing bonuses in addition to relocation assistance.

While ASCs are facing debilitating shortages, they have been used as a backup throughout the pandemic when hospital capacities are strained. Enacted in March 2020, CMS’ Hospitals Without Walls initiative allows hospitals to provide inpatient care in enrolled ASCs for the duration of this public health crisis.

Hospitals and health systems are delaying non-emergent surgeries as COVID-19 continues to surge nationwide. This resulted in surgeons shifting their cases to ASCs which is complicated by the strain on resources.

At the same time, some hospitals and health systems are also moving staff from ASCs to accommodate for patient influx.

As the Staffing Crisis Grows, Revenues Take a Hit

Nurse Staffing Crisis
Nurse Staffing Crisis

ASCs are also finding it hard to hire administrative staff as more companies offer work-from-home arrangements.

Other administrative staff are stepping down or moving to part-time because of school and daycare center closures. They needed to be at home or work at home to take care of their children.

Many ASCs are already running lean throughout the pandemic. According to the 2021 OR Manager Salary/Career Survey, during the past 12 months:

  • 56% of ASC leaders reported that recruiting experienced operating room nurses is more difficult compared last year
  • 40% of ASC leaders reported that the most common staffing challenge was hiring more direct care staff
  • 49% of ASC leaders reported an increased Registered Nurse (RN) turnover

The high price of dealing with the COVID-19 staffing crisis is another financial hit for surgical facilities. When expenses are going up and not enough revenue is coming in, surgical facilities’ financial health are suffering.

What ACSs Can Do and How Mnet Can Help

Nurse Staffing - How Mnet Can Help
Nurse Staffing - How Mnet Can Help

Many ASCs simply cannot match what hospitals and travel nursing agencies are offering in terms of salary.

While health benefits and competitive salary levels are important, surgery centers may be able to offer other perks for nurses or other staff they are looking to attract. Overall, it’s about making your facility a great place to work with a winning culture.

There are many healthcare workers who have become disenchanted with working very long hours and getting little flex time. ASCs can provide a work-life balance that they are likely unfamiliar with, as surgery centers typically don’t require nights, weekends, holidays, or call changes.

With Mnet as your partner, your facility can free up your employees and resources to focus on patient care and patient scheduling, instead of billing and collecting payments.

The process of billing and collections can be time consuming and frustrating for surgery centers – especially when they should be focusing that time and energy on providing quality care and outstanding patient experience.

Mnet’s focus is to increase recovery across patient billing which will significantly reduce bad debt—less to write off each month.

By working with Mnet, one surgical hospital increased their cash flow by $1.8 million and reduced their bad debt by $1.1 million in the first year alone with Mnet’s First Party Billing Solutions.

Mnet works as a seamless extension of your facility. Our multilingual Patient Financial Advocates (covering over 200+ languages) make and take calls as your facility billing department and are available to support your patients from 8am- 8pm CST M-F and on Saturdays from 9am-3pm.

Our agents can answer any billing questions, offer payment or payment plan options, and accept CareCredit payment from the patients.

Conclusion

Working with Mnet means being able to increase your cash flow and revenues.

Healthcare labor costs typically account for at least half of a facility’s expenses. According to a report by Gartner, employee wellbeing is the priority during this crisis to ensure resilience long term.

With increased revenue, your surgical facility will be able to invest in more and better perks, compensations, and benefits for staff.

This way, your facility will be seen as committed to attracting and retaining your staff.

By working with Mnet, your facility can successfully navigate this healthcare crisis and nationwide peak on staffing shortage.



About Mnet

We believe every patient deserves a helpful, transparent, easy-to-navigate financial experience in healthcare.

Mnet is the premier revenue cycle management & technology provider to the surgical industry. Mnet provides customized patient-pay solutions to surgical hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers. Mnet Health partners with over 900 surgical facilities nationwide and is the preferred vendor to the leading ASC management companies in the US both directly with and in support of centralized billing offices.

Mnet’s tailor-made brand, PaySUITE, is a white-labeled payment technology platform that helps surgical facilities, and their providers grow their business by helping patients pay. Mnet’s patient-pay solutions significantly increase self-pay collections while creating a better financial experience for patients. For more information, visit mnethealth.com.