How Hospitals Can Stretch IT Dollars and Empower Employees in 2024

Article Summary

Healthcare executives continued battling systemic IT-related labor hurdles in 2023, which experts predict will persist as spending for non-clinical roles rises in 2024. Thankfully, 2023 provided tremendous insight into ways health systems can overcome the burden of operating under budget shortfalls and a shallow talent pool, leveraging a unique staffing model that cuts costs and boosts employee well-being. This article delves into critical labor challenges and how hospitals can prepare for anticipated demands for technology staff in the new year.

Insights TEMS stretch IT dollars empower employees

Constrained budgets and competition for non-clinical roles compounded hospitals’ financial challenges in 2023. As such, healthcare executives are actively addressing ongoing workforce challenges and budget shortfalls, as reducing labor costs and the need for information technology and data experts is expected to remain a top priority in the new year.

As previously reported, the healthcare industry experienced a drastic uptick in labor costs, particularly in non-clinical roles like healthcare data analytics. Estimates suggest these non-clinical labor costs will rise by $77 billion in 2024, making it necessary to stretch IT budgets through innovative means.

Complicating matters is that health systems faced heightened competition for technology-related positions. Indeed, tech giants like Google, Microsoft, and Apple have lured top talent with competitive compensation packages and appealing remote work options, making it harder for health systems to attract and retain skilled professionals.

Despite widespread hassles and systemic labor problems, employment success stories and innovative approaches in the healthcare industry have emerged in 2023. As we enter a new year, this article reflects on the most pressing concerns health systems face and the measurable progress healthcare provider organizations can achieve through a meaningful strategy addressing three critical areas: finances, quality improvement, and operations.

Top Tech-Related Labor Concerns Facing Health Executives

The intersection of technology and labor management presents a unique opportunity for hospitals and other health institutions to streamline processes, improve productivity, and enhance staff satisfaction. Understanding these intricate dynamics is essential for healthcare executives as they seek innovative solutions to stretch their IT dollars effectively without compromising on delivering high-quality care.

Yet, five persistent issues have stymied hospital labor recruitment and retention efforts, including:

  1. Employee retention snags. “Retaining and budgeting for qualified IT resources” stood as the greatest IT operational challenge for hospitals and health systems, garnering a 44 percent response on the 11th annual Health IT Industry Outlook Survey in 2023. Due to the persistent workforce shortages, this obstacle remained top of mind for the fourth consecutive year among healthcare chief information officers.
  2. Labor and talent pool scarcity. Labor shortages exist across various healthcare professions and can be attributed to an aging population requiring more care, increased demand for healthcare services, and recruitment and training expectations for new and existing hires. The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics projects that roughly 45 percent of all the anticipated job gains from 2022 to 2032– an estimated 2.1 million jobs– will be in the healthcare sector.
  3. Healthcare practitioner burnout. Workplace stress has caused many clinical and non-clinical professionals to experience fatigue and despondency, negatively affecting patient care quality and healthcare access. Indeed, 44.2 percent of health workers reported being “somewhat likely or very likely” to consider looking for a new job, according to a federal survey of American workers published in October 2023 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
  4. Limited IT staffing options. Using traditional outsourcing models or contracting roles does not ensure that individuals with a healthcare background will be attracted to available positions. However, it is essential to have healthcare knowledge and expertise when engaging with payers and providers for managed IT services. Hospitals are forced to select new hires from tight talent pools.
  5. Void in healthcare industry expertise. As program leaders pushed for real-time analysis and quicker results, hospitals were under increased pressure to deliver data analytics value within shorter timeframes. However, numerous health systems are struggling to meet the heightened demands for analytics due to insufficient staff possessing relevant healthcare experience.

Managed IT Services Mitigates Common Traditional Outsourcing Challenges

In 2023, however, health systems overcame substantial stressors, tackled these complex labor issues, and enhanced their financial standing by implementing creative strategies. Supporting healthcare professionals, including those in non-clinical roles, to create more robust and healthier communities is crucial. However, not all outsourcing solutions are the same, and there is a potential for negative impacts on organizational culture or delays in economic and quality outcomes if not approached carefully.

As a result, health systems have chosen a strategic approach to outsourcing by partnering with a solutions provider that prioritizes employee well-being. To that end, Tech-Enabled Managed Services (TEMS) by Health Catalyst has allowed hospitals to save labor costs without resorting to layoffs or sacrificing performance.

By offering financial guarantees and focusing on employee care, the TEMS framework provides immediate relief in labor costs through a managed IT services partnership that improves efficiencies over time without the usual drawbacks of traditional outsourcing options.

A Review of Managed IT Services in Health Systems

Health systems opt for the Tech-enabled Managed Services (TEMS) model due to its comprehensive approach, which eases their financial burdens by providing a guaranteed route to cost savings. They recognize that the value of this framework lies in the following:

  1. Prioritizing team members and offering opportunities for career growth and professional development.
  2. Delivering up to 15-25 percent in labor cost savings by eliminating redundancies and shoring up talent.
  3. Promoting automation and efficiency through the appropriate use of advanced technologies.
  4. Enhancing the outcomes of products and services for providers, patients, and the entire health system.

The TEMS model also leverages technology and the correct data and analytics solutions in healthcare, identifies and prioritizes costly and problematic processes, then standardizes, automates, and consolidates them. As a result, healthcare organizations experience enhanced quality of care, streamlined operations, and increased productivity under the TEMS model, resulting in cost savings.

When choosing managed IT services, healthcare providers benefit from a technology partner dedicated to improving success and enhancing team members’ experiences, a characteristic of TEMS that sets it apart from traditional outsourcing options.

Success in Applying Managed IT Services in Healthcare Settings

Leading health systems, like INTEGRIS Health, have reduced labor expenses by implementing this outsourcing model that effectively managed quality risks associated with traditional staff reductions. With the IT-managed services framework, other healthcare organizations have benefited from its various applications, including chart abstraction, data analytics, and data reporting.

These applications have been proven to enhance registry participation and support quality improvement efforts while meeting registry requirements. Additionally, the TEMS approach has streamlined data queries to reduce labor costs and improve tech-enabled efficiencies in clinical quality programs and average length of stay.

By relying on an experienced partner in data reporting and analytics, healthcare organizations have achieved scalability, assessed the quality and speed of their analytics ecosystem, measured data adoption and usability, and progressed toward high-value analytics. In essence, TEMS has elevated data as a strategic asset to drive organizational improvements regarding clinical care quality, patient safety, fiscal stability, and team member experience.

“Cultivating employment options is more than a technology endeavor; it is a profound transformation at Carle Health. We chose Health Catalyst and TEMS to expedite our analytics capabilities and empower our workforce to advance in their careers.”

– Phillip Rowell, MJ, former Vice President of Clinical and Business Intelligence at Carle Health, who is currently serving as Chief Analytics Officer at Health Catalyst.

Other tech-enabled services. TEMS has also enabled healthcare organizations to minimize the impacts of budget shortfalls and help stave off staff reductions while maximizing technology investments by transferring other functions, such as:

  • Electronic data warehouse and data operations.
  • Ambulatory support operations.
  • Performance and quality improvement teams.

Anticipated Demand for Managed IT Services in Healthcare Industry in 2024

The healthcare labor crisis of 2023 had a significant impact on hospitals and health systems, highlighting the vital role played by healthcare professionals in fostering healthier communities. The hurdles faced by the workforce extended beyond clinical roles, however, as recruiting, retaining, and training employees in non-clinical roles is projected to become increasingly costly and challenging to support. This makes it imperative for healthcare leaders to find innovative solutions to address the labor crisis and ensure the continued provision of high-quality patient care by turning a keen eye to non-clinical roles.

With labor cost increases and workforce shortages projected to continue into 2024, healthcare providers must focus on delivering high-quality, high-value patient care by relying on data-driven decision-making. Choosing a partner for this area in healthcare while adopting a managed IT services model can ensure non-clinical roles are filled, personnel are supported, and operations run smoothly. To be sure, integrating a managed IT services provider can offer a competitive advantage in overcoming these challenges and produce sustained financial relief in the new year.

Additional Reading

Would you like to learn more about this topic? Here are some articles we suggest:

How to Launch Managed IT Services in Healthcare the Right Way

Compare Outsourcing VS Managed IT Services in Healthcare

What is Managed IT Services in Healthcare?

A Look Back: Federal Price Transparency Rules and Regional Quality Improvement Efforts in 2023

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