One of the largest concerns ASC leaders are facing right now is a lack of staffing going into the next calendar year. According to a report from VMG Health, many ASCs have to spend a quarter or more of their net operating revenue on employees to stay ahead of shortages.
Staffing shortages have plagued ASCs since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but even as the economy has started to recover, healthcare staffing has not.
"As we continue to hear about staffing and supply chain, these two aspects of healthcare operations can really be a challenge. There is no way to "cut corners" on qualified staff when candidates are limited, so ASCs must find a way to improve retention and recruitment. Qualified teams are essential for patient safety and efficient care. The cost of staff turnover is incredible," Branda Carter, administrator at Wilmington (N.C.) Surgcare, told Becker's.
And staffing shortages make it more difficult for ASCs to take on new patients or add new departments and procedures. With a lack of staffing comes a lack of mobility.
"I am most nervous about covering staffing needs in the future or holding back growth due to lack of healthcare professionals that are available," Jacqueline McLaughlin, RN, administrator at Northwoods Surgery Center in Woodruff, Wis., told Becker's.
Catherine Retzbach, BSN, RN, director of ASC operations at Marlton, N.J.-based Virtua Health, agreed.
"What makes me nervous is the cost of supplies rising more than reimbursements. Also, the physician and staffing shortages that everyone is experiencing. It makes it difficult to grow if you do not have staff to care for the patients," Ms. Retzbach told Becker's.
As healthcare systems struggle to rebound from losses in 2022, it becomes even more difficult when facing rising costs to keep qualified staff, and not enough staff to grow as planned.
"Short staffing, burnout and hospital capacity are compounding the ongoing obstacles that we struggle with as we work toward reversing these mounting losses. With growing pressures to produce financial and volume targets with limited — and temporary — resources, there will be an enormous focus on producing quantity of work," Philip Louie, MD, medical director of research and academics at the Center for Neurosciences and Spine at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health in Seattle, told Becker's.
Leaders are also concerned about how a decrease in young people entering healthcare might affect ASC staffing going forward.
"I feel like all the way from the front office to prior authorization, from nurses to LPN, that population is getting closer to retirement. I don't have as many younger people come in, so that makes me a little bit nervous about the future," Mahoua Ray, MD, co-founder and managing director of Kansas Pain Management and Kansas Anesthesiology Professionals in Overland Park, told Becker's.