Physicians, nurses, and paramedics have been at the forefront of widespread EMS staffing shortages. This article will uncover if Mobile Integrated Healthcare-Community Paramedicine (MIH-CP) can help reduce the burden of staffing shortages.
Fundamentally, MIH-CP won’t solve broad staffing shortages, but it can provide needed support and could be a stepping stone toward more sustainable staffing solutions in the future. Many mobile integrated healthcare employees are well-trained professionals who can help close the gaps in healthcare staffing.
We’ll talk about some causes for staffing shortages and then provide several reasons why mobile integrated healthcare provides relief to healthcare staffing shortages. This article will focus on EMS, but the principles here can be applied to healthcare at large.
What is Causing the Healthcare EMS Staffing Shortages?
Let’s begin by pointing out some common reasons for staffing shortages. However, before we do that, we should note that this is an incredibly nuanced issue. The reason for staffing shortages in one area might be completely different than the reasons for employee deficits in another area.
With that said, even if some of these reasons are not applicable to every setting, this is an opportunity to think critically about the specific reasons for EMS staffing shortages and how they might be solved.
Several reasons for EMS staffing shortages:
- Wages and career opportunities
- Burnout from overloading
- The number of patients is growing
- A new generation in the workforce
We’ll look at these in more depth, and then we’ll talk about how MIH-CP might be able to provide some answers. Also, if you’re interested, see our guide on how to recruit community paramedics.
Wages and Career Opportunity Related to Staffing Shortages
One of the first reasons healthcare struggles to retain staff is the lack of wages and career opportunities. Indeed, this is variable based on the area and the specific institution. However, many nurses and paramedics feel underpaid, and objective research supports this claim of underpaid healthcare staff.
Public servants such as paramedics and firefighters don’t do what they do for the money, but they need to feed themselves and their families and pay their bills. Increasingly, many don’t see the cost (in time and money) of years of paramedic or nursing school as worth the low wages, particularly for paramedics.
MIH-CP offers a possible solution, or at least a step in the right direction, when it comes to paying health professionals.
Employee Shortages from Burnout
Beyond wages, employees have been hard to retain due to the sheer strain of the job. Those who work directly in healthcare know that even before COVID-19, there was much talk about the stress placed on nurses and paramedics.
It seemed the number of patients kept growing, the number of healthcare professionals kept shrinking, and there was no innovation to help with the explosion. Then COVID-19 hit, putting more water in an already sinking ship.
Speaking of a growing number of patients, let’s explore this phenomenon more deeply.
The Number of Patients and How it Relates to Staffing Shortages
While a public health crisis (such as the pandemic) will undoubtedly provide a difficult spike in patients, the number of patients in the healthcare system has been rising for some time.
As anyone may be able to deduce, a rise in the number of patients in correlation with the drop in the number of providers has proved disastrous in some instances.
A New Generation in the Workforce
The intricacies of this are beyond the scope of this article. Still, it’s fair to say that healthcare needs to take steps to reach out to this generation, ensuring enough professional healthcare personnel in the future.
We should also note that this may be more about the lack of education infrastructure. In some areas, many potential nursing candidates are turned away, as the schools don’t have the faculty to teach a high volume of students adequately.
Now that we’ve uncovered some potential culprits of the widespread staffing shortage, let’s discuss possible cures.
Four Ways Mobile Integrated Healthcare Can Help with Staffing Shortages
Now, let’s outline some ways that mobile integrated healthcare can revamp and revitalize the employment crisis facing healthcare and EMS in particular.
Note: These benefits and possibilities aren’t automatic and don’t offer an easy fix. Any fix requires dedication and attention to detail. A healthy company will produce a healthy workforce. Below, we discuss how MIH-CP can make a hospital or ambulance service healthier.
Here are ways community paramedicine can reduce staffing shortages:
- Providing new opportunities
- Reducing patient overloading
- Promoting public health
- Opportunity to unite healthcare
You will find further details below.
Providing New Opportunities
MIH-CP provides new opportunities for paramedics and nurses. These opportunities allow professionals to do something new, something they find valuable, and it also gives them the opportunity for career advancement – in two ways.
First, healthcare providers, particularly paramedics and nurses, see the gaps in the healthcare system and are just as frustrated as anyone else. These frustrations (whether at seeing repeat patients needing more help or seeing a more efficient strategy for providing care) lead many providers to be enthusiastic about common sense efforts to help people.
Second, MIH-CP often offers providers an increase in wages. There are a few reasons for this. First, depending on the program, MIH-CP typically employs fewer providers, giving it the potential to be a more competitive position that requires well-trained and experienced providers. Furthermore, MIH-CP programs have the potential to bring in more revenue, leading to the potential for higher wages for workers.
Increasing revenue for EMS and MIH-CP is one of the most pressing initiatives, and in the future, MIH-CP might be more sustainable.
Reducing Patient Overloading
The next thing that mobile integrated health can do is to reduce patient overloading or at least provide a task that works proactively instead of reactively.
Unfortunately, healthcare can be primarily reactive. There is nothing wrong with reactive healthcare. Indeed, it’s a fundamental part of the job – people have sudden illnesses all the time that must be treated. The problems arise when preventative medicine is stalled for some reason.
When people regularly attend their doctors’ appointments, their primary care physicians can catch an illness before it spirals out of control. However, there are many times when a primary care physician is overloaded, or some patients cannot regularly visit their physician. In these instances, MIH-CP can assist in filling a gap.
Community paramedicine can reduce the number of repeat patients and superutilizers that flood ambulance services and emergency departments by reaching out to patients who cannot access primary care. In this way, you might say MIH-CP is helping reduce the number of patients per health professional, thus reducing the burden on each worker.
Let’s talk about another way MIH-CP is helping alleviate the staffing crisis in healthcare.
Promoting Public Health
Another way MIH-CP can help reduce the number of patients straining current health systems is by promoting public health. This can have a threefold effect.
First, as mobile health professionals travel to patients’ homes, they can help guide them on when to get help for various ailments. In turn, patients will be more likely to seek care before a condition has spiraled out of control.
Second, they can bring needed preventative care to patients who don’t have access. This could mean they help with community vaccination efforts, bringing vaccines to patients and helping them avoid various diseases.
Finally, with their regular visits, community paramedics are in an excellent place to answer patient questions and help patients build good healthcare habits. Let’s talk about one final way MIH-CP can help reduce the adverse effects of the staffing shortage.
MIH-CP Wants to Unite Healthcare
As it stands, in many areas, healthcare often acts like separate businesses competing with each other. Hospitals and clinics draw lines based on broader affiliations, and ambulance companies compete for territories.
To some extent, competition can benefit patients, as it theoretically increases the level of care. However, within healthcare, there must be some broader understanding that these organizations are fighting for a common goal.
Healthcare is a tricky business, but one thing is sure – two healthcare workers are better than one, and when people work together, they can get more done than either of them could do by themselves. In this way, if there were a more united, more integrated health system, there would be less burden on each institution to employ more staff.
Mobile integrated healthcare is not just about a new health program. It’s about establishing a new healthcare mindset that puts public health first. In the future, as more institutions work together, there will be less of a staffing burden on any one institution.
Now, it’s time for our conclusion.
Key Take on How MIH-CP Reduces Staffing Shortages
Healthcare and EMS are facing staffing shortages for many reasons, with wages, burnout, and patient overload playing a role. MIH-CP can attract new talent, reduce patient overload, and increase the overall strength of the workforce by bringing healthcare together.
Contact Julota for a simple demonstration of how their secure, cloud-based software can improve your collaboration with other health teams.