It’s not just physicians and nurses, non-clinical staff are in short supply for medical practices too

More than 60 percent of respondents say their organizations have a hard time recruiting non-clinical staff, MGMA says.

Nursing and physician shortages aren’t the only staff challenges providers are facing. According to a new STAT poll from the Medical Group Management Association, a majority of healthcare organization leaders said their group can’t find enough qualified applicants for non-clinical positions either.

The poll was conducted on May 1, 2018 with 1,299 applicable responses.

More than 60 percent of respondents said their organizations had a hard time recruiting non-clinical staff. The reasons include larger organizations offering better pay, low unemployment rates and difficulty recruiting in rural areas. One respondent said “recruiting millennials is a completely different game” and another cited lack of future career advancements in the billing and coding field.

“Lack of medical training in colleges and technical schools and reliance on ‘on the job training’ means less qualified non-clinical applicants,” MGMA said.

Other reasons include competition from other medical groups, hospitals and health systems as well as competitive pay from other industries that trigger turnover.

One-third responded they haven’t experienced this shortage, citing low turnover. Those respondents also said they had increased wages to retain staff, MGMA said.

A past poll has shown this high-turnover is prevalent in front-office staff, which some experts have argued are the face of a practice and the first ones to interact with patients, often setting a tone for the care episode making it a crucial influence of patient satisfaction.

When there is high turnover, new employees are often not as well-versed in office policies and procedures because they likely haven’t been there very long. This can lead to mistakes, inaccuracies and bumpy interactions with patients who expect staff to know operations inside and out. It can also lead to costly errors not just on the part of new employees, but veteran staff who are busy training and juggling multiple tasks at any given moment. The trickle down effect could mean patients wait longer to be seen, appointments go longer and collections and claims may be riddled with mistakes.

Medical group leaders know that it isn’t just doctors and nurses who make their practices successful and run smoothly, so they would be well-advised to treat retention of non-clinical staff with urgency.

Since a third of respondents reported lower turnover after raising wages for non-clinical staff, decision-makers for practices may want to consider researching current competitive rates for these positions and potentially raising wages such that staff would be less inclined to seek higher-paying employment elsewhere.

Practices also might consider how else to boost employee benefits and the workplace environment so that employees experience greater satisfaction. Turnover leads to operational hiccups, less efficient service for patients and lower satisfaction rates.

“While finding qualified candidates is a challenge for medical groups, practice leaders can begin by assessing how they are approaching retention of their best employees and mitigating turnover before it becomes an issue,” MGMA said.


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