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Medical practices tackle staffing challenges with financial incentives, technology

Article

Overall staffing levels were up “marginally,” suggesting some stabilization and return to levels from before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report from the American Medical Group Association.

Medical practices are using more financial incentives to bolster their workforces as staffing shortages continue to be a challenge in 2023.

Technology is helping fill the gap in staffing, especially on the front end of appointments. For 2023, 90.9% reported using an online patient portal and 65.8% reported using self check-in terminals or kiosks for patient visits.

Technology is helping fill the gap in staffing, especially on the front end of appointments. For 2023, 90.9% reported using an online patient portal and 65.8% reported using self check-in terminals or kiosks for patient visits.

The American Medical Group Association has published its 2023 Clinic Staffing Survey showing medical groups and health systems reported a median of 10% increasing in staffing levels from 2023.

The survey of more than 6,100 clinics shows “overall, clinic staffing appears to be stabilizing after the past few years,” but support roles including nurses and medical assistants “remain in a downward trajectory,” AMGA Consulting Director Elizabeth Siemsen said in a news release. The Alexandria, Va.-based trade group’s membership include more than 175,000 physicians.

Among the latest tactics to recruit and keep staff:

  • 88.2% of medical groups are offering referral bonuses, up from 82.8% in 2022.
  • 77.6% are offering sign-on bonuses, up from 69% last year.
  • 55.7% are making benefit changes, up from 41.1% in 2022.

Overall staffing levels were up “marginally,” suggesting some stabilization and return to some levels from before the COVID-19 pandemic, the report said.

But no respondents said staffing levels were at the best level for clinical roles. In the responses, just 25% of respondents indicated clinical staffing was at 90% or better than optimal staffing, with only 39.5% indicating that administrative staffing was at that same level.

As a response to staffing challenges, 90.8% of respondents said they hoped to increase the number of advanced practice clinicians, while 80.5% said they would increase telehealth or virtual care options.

Technology is helping fill the gap in staffing, especially on the front end of appointments. For 2023, 90.9% reported using an online patient portal and 65.8% reported using self check-in terminals or kiosks for patient visits.

The report said the overall staffing trend “is impacted by fluctuations in both provider levels and clinic staffing throughout the (COVID-19) pandemic.”

“Medical groups are in unchartered waters, trying to navigate the unprecedented impact of staffing challenges that emerged from the pandemic and are ongoing,” AMGA Consulting Chief Operating Officer Rose Wagner, RN, MHS, FACMPE, said in the news release.

Reference

1. AMGA. Clinic Staffing Costs Growing Despite Some Stabilization. Published online May 30, 2023. Accessed June 29, 2023. https://www.amga.org/about-amga/amga-newsroom/press-releases/5302023-(1)

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