What’s the Cost of an Open Position at Your Hospital?

Dawn Pascale

How to Survive This Year's Physician Shortage

The U.S. shortage of clinical providers is increasing and it’s going to cost hospitals big money. The pandemic has only exacerbated the issue, which was already serious, given the growing populations of those over 65 and the increase in patients with chronic conditions. Doctors are reaching retirement age and fewer students are opting for medical or nursing school.

How can hospitals combat these gaps between the number of staff and their patient volumes? How much is the cost of these vacancies at your hospital?

The Cost of Hospital Staffing Shortages

Filling the vacancies on your clinical teams could save your hospital millions of dollars. However, that’s easier said than done with we’re facing severe shortages of qualified clinical staff.

What does it cost your hospital when you have an unfilled staff vacancy? There are four primary economic impacts when you have a clinical provider gap in your hospital. These include:

  1. Lost patient volume. Hospitals frequently reroute paying patients to their competitors when there aren’t enough doctors and nurses to handle the caseload. Every time your E.R. diverts traffic you lose profit to other facilities. A lack of critical care nurses alone can close ICU beds. Becker’s suggests the loss of even two patients per day could cause a $3.3 million loss annually to your organization.
  2. Hospitals try to fill coverage gaps with traveling nurses or locum tenens, but the costs are high. Staffing agencies do a nice job filling these holes, but it comes at a cost to healthcare providers, which Becker’s estimates are about $2.5 million annually for hospitals with 25 traveling nurses on the payroll.
  3. The detrimental effect of overworking your existing employees. Burnout is a real and perversive problem in the U.S. healthcare field. While this is a hidden cost, understaffing puts more pressure on your existing teams. This is felt directly in poorer patient satisfaction scores, lowered health outcomes, and lost revenues.
  4. For existing staff, we’ve called on them to do more during the pandemic, so overtime and extra shift bonus payments have likely skewed payrolls into the redline. Not only does this lead ultimately to burnout, paying a higher amount for overworked clinical teams is more expensive than just hiring enough staff to fulfill the projected need.

Becker’s estimates the current nursing shortages are 3-4% of the current and projected need as we go into the fall influenza season and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread. They estimate the lost opportunity costs of failing to staff even one R.N. are more than $170,000 annually. How can hospitals alleviate this financial burden and work to the top of their organizational mandate?

Increase Revenue, Fill Coverage Gaps with MedSource

One answer to the staffing conundrum we’re facing is to seek a partnership with a staffing agency like MedSource. We offer our hospital partners an opportunity to add additional recruiting resources for their clinical, staff, and administrative needs. MedSource is a trusted partner of clinical facilities around the country. We’d like to speak with your team about how we can help you staff up during these challenging times. Contact us today.