How staffing shortages pushed 1 health system — and its ASCs — to innovate

Healthcare has been plagued with staffing shortages, a looming physician exodus, an aging population, an increase in costs and a decline in provider pay — and that is just the tip of the iceberg.

ASCs face these same challenges; however, not all of them have the resources available to large hospitals or health systems, making these looming threats even more pressing.

Shaibal Mazumdar, MD, a gastroenterologist at Charlotte, N.C.-based Advocate Health, recently joined Becker's to share how staffing shortages and layoffs have affected the practice of medicine and Advocate's affiliated ASCs. 

Editor's note: This response has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Question: How have layoffs/staffing shortages changed the way you practice medicine?

Dr. Shaibal Mazumdar: Optimal resources and processes lead to good outcomes. Staffing challenges post-COVID did cause scheduling bottlenecks and challenges with patient access all over the country. We had good leadership and culture — creating a workforce which is highly engaged — they helped us with various ASCs in different geographies. None of our ASC nurses or techs were laid off during COVID; I think this helped us earn their loyalty.

With strained resources, it's important to tweak the process. Physicians and nurse practitioners are collective resources, and we strive to work at the top of our license with good communication. EMR helps along with telehealth. It is also important to innovate with newer technologies related to artificial intelligence in order to get rid of excessive added activities — to do more with less.

Curbside consults with referring physicians when you are connected through EMR also helps to make sure patients get timely access to good care. 

Recruitment and retention should be a top strategic priority. It's important to have leadership and a culture where employees are respected, appreciated and valued and that encourages critical thinking. We are constantly working to deploy innovative processes related to technology such as EMR, telehealth and AI.

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