In the News: Dec 6–13

Only Half of Open Jobs in Health Care Are Being Filled

A recent Forbes article highlights the increasing shortage of health care employees in the US, specifically nurses. While the number of candidates is similar to the number of open positions, there is still a projected shortage of 510,394 nurses by 2030. According to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while there were over 1 million health care jobs open in October, only about half of the positions were filled.

According to the article, one solution for addressing the health care workforce shortage is to more effectively utilize the people already in health care positions. Given the projected shortfalls, Sg2 believes that health systems will need to maximize their current workforce by rebalancing the division of labor so that providers practice at the top of their license. To learn more about addressing the health care workforce shortage, see Sg2’s Infographic: Workforce Planning.

Telestroke Services in Rural Areas Have Increased

Health Affairs recently published a research article highlighting the positive effects telemedicine has had on stroke services in rural areas in the US. The study’s authors looked at claims data from CMS’s Research Identifiable Files and compared the outcomes of patients who received telestroke services to those who didn’t. Between 2008 and 2015, the use of telestroke services increased among fee-for-service Medicare patients who had an incident ischemic stroke.

Patients who received telestroke services increased intravenous plasminogen activator use by 10%, with expenditures for inpatient telestroke care per patient being $3,003 higher than for patients who did not access telestroke.

Only about 55% of Americans have access to a primary stroke center within an hour drive from their home, and only half of all hospitals with fewer than 100 beds have a neurologist on staff. This lack of access to timely care shows the importance of telestroke programs for expanding access to care in rural areas. To understand key considerations for organizations seeking to expand their stroke services, including telestroke, check out the Sg2 FAQ: Considerations for Stroke Center Development.

Neonatal Telehealth Programs Reduce Newborn Transfers to NICUs

A recent Health Affairs article shares the results of a multiple-baseline study that sought to understand the impact of neonatal telehealth on transfers from community hospitals to level 3 newborn intensive care units. The study, which took place between November 2014 and December 2015, demonstrated that the intervention was associated with a 29.4% reduction in a newborn’s odds of being transferred. This translates to 67.2% fewer transfers annually, corresponding to an estimated savings of $1,220,352 per year. Reduction in transfers can have other benefits as well, such as increasing the community hospital’s revenue, eliminating the risks associated with transfers and allowing families to remain close to home.

Sg2 believes that the current neonatal care pathway is marked by unprecedented innovation, driving organizations to develop strategic approaches for high-risk pregnancy. With a record low national birth rate contributing to overall declines in neonatology volumes, the remaining case mix is both diverse and complex, requiring children’s hospitals to prioritize innovation in their neonatology strategic planning. To learn more about the opportunities and changes in the future of neonatology, watch the Sg2 on-demand webinar Neonatology Landscape 2018.

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