November 1, 2022 – The American Hospital Association wrote to the House Energy and Commerce Committee in March to express their concern about the healthcare workforce shortage in hospitals, calling it a “national emergency.” In their statement, AHA projected that the shortage of nurses will reach 1.1 million by the end of 2022 and that the U.S. will face a shortage of up to 124,000 physicians by 2033 and 3.2 million lower-wage healthcare workers by 2027.
Indeed, healthcare workers continue to endure the physical and emotional toll of caring for sicker, more complex patients. The number of COVID-19 cases may ebb and flow over time, but the healthcare system will continue to see a rise in patient acuity well past the worst waves of the pandemic. These industry trends all contribute to burnout, stress, and retention issues across the healthcare workforce. As a key partner to virtually all of America’s 7,000+ hospitals and 68,000+ non-acute care facilities, healthcare GPOs and the Healthcare Supply Chain Association (HSCA) are leading efforts to address the root causes of the healthcare workforce crisis.
In February, two-thirds of U.S. hospitals had a nurse vacancy rate of 7.5% or more. Nursing staff, specifically registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) and certified nursing assistants (CNAs), are critical staff in hospitals and nursing homes. Nurses play an important role in procuring and documenting medications and supplies, which can become increasingly difficult when faced with shortages, heavy utilization, and backorders.
An industry survey showed that supply chain issues led approximately 20% of nurses to say they considered leaving their current role. HSCA member GPO HealthTrust has worked with industry leaders to develop a nurse-centric supply chain model that includes standardizing supply and equipment processes, streamlining procedures for gathering and tracking supplies through technology, and minimizing the impact of shortages and supply substitutions with additional supply chain personnel to support nurses and other staff. HealthTrust also works with their members to ensure a consistent supply of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers to help them stay safe on the job.
One HealthTrust provider member called the PPE supply channel “the most stable part of the supply chain today” thanks to their work with HealthTrust, which allows them to access key industry insights and get ahead of potential disruptions.
Read more in October’s issue of Journal of Healthcare Contracting.