2023 Staffing Trends Curated for Post-Acute Leadership

Post-acute leaders are entering uncharted territory in their careers. More than ever, making smart, sustainable decisions for nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities requires an awareness not just of the post-acute space, but of the myriad staffing trends and forces that are reshaping healthcare.

To help you get a grasp on these factors, we’ve talked with internal experts from multiple fields to curate this list as a guide for you. 

1. Clarity on Gig Workers in Healthcare Will Materialize

From the start of the pandemic, gig work largely went unchecked, leaving many providers without guidance in how workers should be classified and subjecting them to an unknown world of legal risk

Opportunistic companies have slid into healthcare, adopting a 1099 independent contractor model much like that seen in Uber and Lyft in place of W-2. These models have cut costs from benefits, payroll taxes, etc., but the downside has been the risk of misclassifying workers and increased legal responsibility in the case of a patient incident. But this is all likely ending. 

In 2023, you expect deeper conversations and more guidance on the legality of gig worker classification.

2. Staffing Minimums Will Test Strategic Planning

Regulations around staffing minimums are shifting, and post-acute leaders will feel the pressure ramp up in 2023. 

The American Health Care Association (AHCA) estimates that nursing homes could have to lay out as much as $10 billion yearly, along with hiring almost 188,000 nurses to keep up with an increase in minimum staffing requirements. In the midst of a shortage and increasing healthcare costs, significant government intervention would be needed to support providers. To inform future proposals, the Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services (CMS) is conducting a mixed methods study that will include CNAs, LPNs/LVNs, and RNs. 

The result will be a need to shift your strategy and how you approach your staffing mix of LPNs, CNAs, and RNs.  

3. Staffing Providers Will Meet Increased Scrutiny

As things heat up and staffing practices fall under surveillance, staffing agencies will find themselves subject to an increasingly critical eye from all sides.  

For example, we are seeing increased discussions of price gouging from travel nurse agencies in academic spaces. As things stand now, the Travel Nursing Agency Transparency Study Act is still in process. It would require that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report to Congress on how nurse staffing agencies have affected travel nurse hiring during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

What does this mean for facility owners? You can expect 2023 to bring more support as you avoid price-gouging and look for more transparency from your staffing agency partners. 

4. Home Health Will Continue to Shape the Healthcare Conversation

2023 is shaping up to be the year in which the impact of a pandemic becomes clear and the future role of home health takes shape. 

As hospitals continue to navigate surges of the “tripledemic” of COVID-19, the Flu, and Respiratory Syncytial Virus, the promise of options like “hospital at home” that reduce costs and infection risk become even more attractive. On the home health front, more Medicare Advantage programs are offering in-home support services (jumping from 729 programs in 2022 to 1,091 in 2023) just as CMS is increasing home health payments

5. Telehealth Gets Creative

One throughline you’ll see emerging across multiple facets of healthcare is the further evolution of telehealth. 

Expect to see practical intersections of the technology with initiatives like hospital-at-home, but also efforts to address social determinants of health. Also, look for advancements like increased remote patient monitoring and hospital consultations at home thanks to integrations with EHRs as well as increased focus on technology that integrates and is properly configured with clinical workflows to support continuity of care and encourage provider adoption.  

6. Providers Will Demand Increased Focus on Nursing Quality From Staffing Agencies 

Staffing agencies will need to brace themselves for 2023. Providers are trending toward expecting more from their staffing partners—especially in terms of quality and compliance. 

You can expect to see providers give preference to post-acute staffing partners who support a culture of quality, prioritize education and training, and who are quick to respond to clinical and professional complaints. Nursing home leaders will see benefits from partnering with providers who lean into evidence-based care and will largely be rewarded with improved revenues, increased efficiency, and lower costs. 

7. Nurse Flexibility Will Become a Must

In response to increased rates of burnout, nurse professionals are turning to ways to care for themselves—including increased flexibility. Our study of ways employers can support their nursing professionals revealed that 30% of respondents would be willing to reduce their pay by up to 10% for more flexibility. 

The takeaway? Flexibility is a straightforward answer to many of the burnout and dissatisfaction challenges that have shaped nurse staffing in recent years. 

2023 will mark the year where it becomes clear that the status quo in post acute care has shifted permanently, but that at the same time, there are multiple emerging opportunities for leaders willing to rethink their approach to staffing strategy and leadership. We want to invite you to explore how you can take the first steps into a future of healthcare staffing done right today.  

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