Planning challenges persist
Ineffective planning will continue to drive unexpected costs for healthcare organizations in 2022. Continued disruptions, including those from COVID and staffing shortages, have healthcare execs looking for solutions to contain costs while still searching for ways to ensure growth.
More than half of healthcare executives (56%) admit that they only planned ahead one quarter or less during 2021, and 2022’s disruptive landscape will continue to hinder extended planning — with unplanned expenditures all but certain as a result. While hospital executives are most concerned about unexpected costs related to COVID concerns (65%) and labor shortages (60%) moving into 2022, another 52% say inflation keeps them up at night as well, while almost as many lose sleep over unexpected costs from cybersecurity (51%) and regulatory risks (49%).
Amidst the Great Resignation, healthcare execs simply don’t have the people power to plan effectively: a quarter of healthcare execs (25%) predict staffing shortages and employee retention will be the top challenge in 2022, nearly as many as those who cite funding/budgetary (14%) or telehealth/cybersecurity (13%) concerns combined. In fact, 52% say staffing shortages are more disruptive to their organization than even COVID variants.
Struggling to contain costs
Healthcare organizations struggling to contain costs will increasingly turn to technology for help to exploit opportunities for growth.
When organizations can’t contain those unexpected costs, it’s patients who pay the price: more than 4 in 5 execs (81%) admit that costs resulting from poor planning and budgeting typically get passed on to their patients. To combat against this, three-quarters of healthcare execs (75%) say cost containment will be a high-priority for their organization in 2022 —including 37% who say it is the top priority. But while they agree on the importance of cost containment, they disagree on how to do so. Healthcare execs are split across increased workforce productivity/optimization (21%), improving processes (19%), and reducing overhead (19%) as the most effective ways to contain cost. With leveraging economies of scale (16%), seeking lower-cost suppliers (14%), and eliminating unprofitable services (13%) not far behind, executives are casting a wide net to address concerns.
With unexpected costs from staffing shortages a factor moving forward, hospital execs are turning to tech to counter their lack of people power: nearly 3 in 5 (57%) see new and expanding technology as a top opportunity for growth in 2022. In fact, more than 2 in 3 (68%) predict an increased reliance on telemedicine in 2022, while another 22% expect to use it as much as they did last year.
Retaining staff amid labor shortage
Attempting to make headway against their top challenge, many consider dire action to gain staff.
With 25% of healthcare execs citing staffing shortages and employee retention as the top challenge for their organization in 2022, healthcare organizations could take dramatic action. More than 1 in 3 healthcare execs (36%) have already lifted vaccine requirements for their employees, reflecting a by-any-means-necessary approach to keeping organizations staffed. Another 43% have not lifted these measures yet but are currently considering doing so.
Inability to Plan Will Continue to Drive Costs
Unpredictability in 2021 Hindered Multi-Quarter and Annual Healthcare Planning
More than half (56%) of healthcare execs admit they only planned ahead one quarter or less during 2021 planning sessions. Multiple survey respondents cited difficulty executing plans as a challenge and opportunity for improvement in 2022.
Failure to Plan Means Patients Pay
More than 4 out of 5 (81%) hospital executives report passing costs resulting from poor planning and budgeting on to patients.
Beyond Covid and The Great Resignation, 2022 Has a Host of Issues that Have Healthcare Execs Losing Sleep
More than half say inflation costs most keeps them up at night, as do perennial costs like cybersecurity, while nearly half lose sleep over costs from regulatory risks.
Labor Concerns Are The Most Difficult To Plan For In 2022
A quarter of healthcare execs say staffing shortages and employee retention is a top challenge in 2022, almost as much as financial worry and telehealth/cybersecurity combined.
Managing Staffing Shortages Continues to Be Disruptive
In fact, more than half of healthcare execs say staffing shortages are more disruptive to their organization than even COVID variants have been.
Healthcare Organizations Turn to Tech for Solutions
Containing Costs for Organizations and Patients Need to Be Addressed Now
Three-quarters of healthcare execs say cost containment will be a high-priority in 2022, including 37% who say it is the top priority this year.
Execs are Divided on How to Best Contain Costs
Healthcare executives’ rankings of the most effective way to contain costs are divided across increased workforce productivity, improving processes, and reducing overhead. With leveraging economies of scale, seeking lower-cost suppliers, and eliminating unprofitable services not far behind, clearly executives are casting a wide net to address concerns.
Investment in Technology is the Top Growth Opportunity in 2022
Nearly 3 in 5 see new and expanding technology as a top opportunity for growth in 2022.
With Success During Pandemic, Expect Increased Demand and Reliance on Telemedicine
More than 2 in 3 healthcare execs predict increased reliance on telemedicine in 2022, while close to a quarter more expect to use it at the same rate.
Moving the Needle on The Great Resignation
With 25% of HC Execs Most Challenged by Staffing Challenges, Some are Considering Dire Action to Gain More Staff
More than 1 in 3 healthcare execs have already lifted vaccine requirements for employees, reflecting a by-any-means-necessary approach to keeping organizations staffed. Another 43% are considering lifting their requirements.
Small Companies, Big Lessons
Smaller Organizations May Turn to Larger Peers on Controlling Costs
Nearly 2 in 3 healthcare execs at companies with revenues of $100m+ cite increasing workplace productivity as a top way to contain costs.
Smaller Organizations Should Be Wary Not to Pass Costs on to Patients
Nearly 2 in 3 healthcare execs at companies with revenues of $100m+ are particularly likely to admit (87%) that poor planning costs typically get passed on to their patients.
Research Objectives and Methodology
Syntellis partnered with Wakefield Research on custom quantitative research to:
- Better understand the landscape of US Healthcare organizations moving into 2022.
- Gain insight into challenges, priorities, and opportunities for those organizations in the ‘voice of frontline hospital leaders’.
The Syntellis Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research among 200 US Hospital/Health System C-Level Executives, between January 12 and January 20, 2022, using an email invitation and an online survey.
Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. For the interviews conducted in this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 6.9 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.
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