A New Approach to Navigating Financial Uncertainty in 2024

by | Feb 16, 2024

2024 is gearing up to be a significantly challenging year as hospital margins remain historically low.[1] While inflation appears to be slowing, expenses and labor shortages continue to be a significant factor and are expected to remain so throughout the rest of the year.[2] We’ve already seen facility closures and the shuttering of services in the first few weeks of 2024.[3]

The bottom line is that our post-pandemic “new normal” requires a new mindset. Options that may have seemed unfeasible or unnecessary in the past may actually be the best options for today’s unprecedented challenges. Leveraging advanced practice providers (APPs) is a prime example. These highly skilled healthcare professionals, including nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs), can be the catalyst hospitals and health systems need to achieve long-term financial viability.

Taking a new look at advanced practice providers
The pandemic took a toll on clinicians, who are now reporting extreme levels of job stress and burnout and leaving the industry in record numbers.[4],[5] As we look to the future, industry experts predict a severe shortage of both registered nurses and physicians over the next decade.[6] This comes at a time when our population is aging, and older individuals typically require more—and more complex—care.[7] These challenges, along with escalating costs, present an ideal opportunity to leverage APPs. Following is a list of benefits hospitals and health systems can realize by using APPs in 2024.

  • APPs play a vital role in mitigating the impact of clinician shortages. Their ability to diagnose, treat, refer, and manage multiple levels of medical conditions helps reduce stress on existing clinicians while also reducing wait times and improving patient throughput.
  • APPs can improve continuity of care by working alongside physicians both within the hospital and during transitions of care. APPs can coordinate the patient’s movement throughout the continuum of care, while physicians focus on higher acuity patients.
  • APPs support a multidisciplinary approach to patient care by contributing diverse perspectives and expertise that enhance care teams. This can help elevate quality while promoting a culture of collaboration and continuous improvement.
  • APPs enhance flexibility and scalability in organizations where needs fluctuate. APPs are trained to be adaptable and versatile, which can enhance care quality and the patient experience in dynamic hospital environments.
  • APPs can improve patient satisfaction as they are trained to focus on patient education and empathetic communication. They can often spend extra time talking with patients and their families to discuss care plans, listen to questions, address concerns, and ensure a positive patient experience.
  • APPs can deliver comparable care to physicians at a lower cost point.[8] They can also be more cost-effective than recruitment, high sign-on bonuses, and onboarding full-time clinicians.
  • APPs can help alleviate nurse burnout and turnover by being available to provide fast responses to questions that would typically have to wait for a physician to answer. APPs can help nurses look forward to coming to work again.

A question of quality
Adfinitas Health recently conducted a retrospective cohort study examining outcomes for patient care provided under its APP care model where Adfinitas APPs care for their own patients while using physicians only as a resource. The study included more than 100,000 unique hospitalizations across seven hospitals where the company provided hospitalist teams. The analysis was completed using a logistic regression model based on in-hospital mortality, cost of care, readmissions, and length of stay (LOS). Data were adjusted for age, insurance status, illness severity, and mortality risk. The research found no statistically significant difference in cost of care, LOS, readmissions, or mortality between the two groups.

A new model for our “new normal”
Incorporating APPs into hospital settings is a strategic approach that delivers a myriad of benefits to hospitals, clinicians, and patients alike. Adfinitas Health can help. Adfinitas has nearly 20 years of experience building and managing high-quality, cost-effective hospitalists and post-acute programs. With a well-seasoned team of recruiters and an extensive training program, Adfinitas has curated high-quality teams of APPs working at the top of their license. Adfinitas APPs are proven to deliver significant bottom-line improvements and enhanced patient satisfaction without compromising care quality.

[1] https://www.advisory.com/daily-briefing/2023/10/04/hospital-margins#:~:text=Although%20hospital%20operating%20margins%20are,reporting%20negative%20margins%20in%202022.
[2] https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/2024-healthcare-workforce-trends-you-can-t-afford-to-ignore.html
[3] https://www.beckersasc.com/asc-news/6-hospital-clinic-and-service-closures-in-2024.html#:~:text=Healthcare%27s%20ongoing%20supply%20issues%2C%20labor,have%20been%20forced%20to%20close.
[4] https://www.ama-assn.org/practice-management/physician-health/5-things-health-care-organizations-learned-about-burnout-year
[5] https://www.nursingworld.org/news/news-releases/2023/the-american-nurses-foundation-says-action-is-still-needed-to-address-serious-nursing-workforce-challenges/
[6] https://thehill.com/changing-america/well-being/prevention-cures/4225960-the-us-is-suffering-a-healthcare-worker-shortage-experts-fear-it-will-only-get-worse/
[7] https://www.aapa.org/news-central/2017/02/patients-complex-patients/
[8] Society of Hospital Medicine. State of hospital medicine report 2020. Philadelphia: Society of Hospital Medicine; 2020, p. 205.