Healthcare HR professionals face sweeping changes in medical care delivery, evolving technology standards, staff shortages and shifting workforce demographics. Additionally, the evolving Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic brings its own set of challenges for the immediate future.

Patient Safety Awareness Week, which runs March 8-14, encourages healthcare providers, organizations, patients, and the general public to learn about local and global healthcare safety issues. 

Healthcare safety issues, or “medical harm,” are a significant cause of death in the United States. Even when such errors do not result in death, they can still have long-term negative effects on a patient’s health and finances. Patient Safety Awareness Week is an opportunity for healthcare organizations to consider the potential causes of medical harm and how to prevent it.

The healthcare industry is in a constant state of change, driven in part by regulatory developments. Resisting or avoiding such change could result in financial penalties and other negative consequences for healthcare organizations.

Lifelong learning can help HR and other healthcare professionals develop the resilience and flexibility to adapt to such changes. With lifelong learning, healthcare professionals contribute to their professional long-term success, and that of their organizations.

Talent recruitment and retention remain among the top challenges facing healthcare organizations in the new decade. According to a SHRM survey, 46% of HR professionals rated highly skilled medical positions as very difficult to fill.

It’s no secret that patient experience in a healthcare setting is deeply connected to the employee experience of healthcare workers. 

Organizations have been able to improve patient loyalty by moving the needle on their employee engagement. One healthcare organization increased its workforce engagement from 9% to 30% and saw a nearly 5 point increase in the number of patients likely to recommend their services. 

It’s no secret that the healthcare industry is facing a hiring crisis. An aging population has increased demand for health services, while the supply of healthcare workers is in decline or leveling off. Amid these challenges, healthcare recruiters are struggling to find quality candidates.

Employee turnover comes at a high cost, especially in healthcare. In 2017, turnovers in nurse staffing cost the average hospital between $4.4 million and $7 million. And the research shows that turnover is more of a risk when dealing with new hires. In 2018, more than 32 percent of new hires lasted less than one year. 

Many states are anticipating severe nursing shortages in the next few years, with some states projected to have nurse employee deficits of more than 10,000. As the patient population ages and increases, appropriate staffing poses a problem for healthcare HR teams.

Healthcare providers, organizations, and facilities may find it challenging to meet patients’ changing expectations. However, they should not ignore the enormous influence that expectations can have on the patient experience.

Research has suggested that patient expectations can influence their satisfaction with their care and their perceptions of their own health. The more that healthcare providers and organizations can address patient expectations, the more likely they are to earn and keep their patients’ trust.

Some of the biggest lawsuits of 2019 involved massive opioid distribution companies. Multiple pharmaceutical companies are set to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars in damages to the states most affected by the opioid crisis.

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