There’s no denying 2021 dealt a barrage of challenges across the nation and globe – especially for health care. The severity and immediacy of 2021’s complex challenges spurred investigations and solutions to ongoing issues – solutions that could vastly improve health care in the long run.
Here’s a look at the most valuable lessons we learned in 2021 – three overarching themes that will enhance our approach and outlook for 2022 and beyond.
1. Reimagining Roles of Advanced Practice Professionals
Throughout the pandemic, nurse practitioners and physician assistants have been a critical part of the solution. And although the roles of APPs, particularly nurse practitioners and physician assistants, have grown over the years, 2021 shed even more light on how expansive and valuable the roles of these professionals are. Moving forward as an industry, we can reimagine the roles of APPs in light of their vastly expanded scope of practice, including their:
- Extensive clinical skillsets
- Delivery of specialized care
- Telehealth services
- Crisis management and leadership capabilities
- Expanded scope of practice
- Growing APP workforce
- Rigorous training and preparation
- Versatility across healthcare settings
- Cost-effective care with comparable clinical outcomes
- Patient satisfaction
Read more about how APPs can be a secret weapon in the fight against COVID and the future of healthcare.
2. Licensing, Credentialing, and Reimbursement Changes Expand Health Care Access
During the first waves of COVID-19, licensure, credentialing, and reimbursement issues presented a significant challenge to the rapid delivery of talent needed to meet the crisis surge. Changes to licensing by state and federal regulatory entities, streamlined credentialing processes by healthcare organizations and staffing companies, and improvements to telehealth reimbursement by insurers helped expand the availability and reach of providers. During 2021, it became increasingly evident that improvements to licensing, credentialing, and reimbursement can improve care delivery in the future:
- Healthcare staffing companies can streamline and improve credentialing processes to improve “door to floor” times.
- Healthcare facilities can review their policies to identify opportunities for expediting credentialing of medical staff.
- Congress, Medicare, commercial plans, and Medicaid can consider permanently increasing reimbursement for telehealth services.
- Policymakers can develop a uniform national mechanism for licensure for telehealth across state borders.
- States not yet involved can join initiatives such as the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC), making it easier for providers to become licensed in multiple states.
Renewed Focus on Retention
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed nursing forever, with many nurses and those who advocate for them hoping the field will transform – using the unprecedented health crisis as a make-or-break moment to press for lasting change. The past year brought about greater burnout and more nurses considering leaving the profession. However, insights from the year can help modernize the sector and inform permanent solutions to better nurses' work and personal lives. This year, our survey, conducted in partnership with Florida Atlantic University’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing, showed how nurses feel about their profession. The survey of 570 nurses, A New Nursing Crisis: How the Pandemic Has Changed Nurses, demonstrated the need for:
- Better staffing models
- Changes to national licensure
- Improved cross-training and use of staff resources
- Changes to pay and scheduling
- Investment in developing vital nursing skills
- Addressing job satisfaction, burnout, stress, and career development
To discover what nurses think health care should look like post-pandemic, read about the groundbreaking nursing survey.
Whether focused on provider roles, licensure, credentialing, reimbursement, or retention, what 2021 taught us helps us to proceed strategically and with insight, moving into 2022 with valuable lessons on hand.
At Cross Country Healthcare, we have innovative workforce and staffing solutions to assist your organization as we put these new lessons to work. Contact us today.