The Vaccine Mandate and How it can Affect Critical Access Hospitals

These days the medical industry has been booming and so is the need for long-term hospital security and stability. With upcoming regulations in regards to COVID-19, here are some tips to ensure your critical access hospital or facility can stay safe, secure, and thrive.

What the Vaccine Mandate Covers

The newest COVID-19 vaccine mandate will be addressed late October in congress which will require all employers with at least 100 employees to be fully vaccinated. This includes businesses, government agencies, and hospitals, and could affect as many as 100 million Americans. The president also announced that healthcare providers that accept Medicaid and Medicare for all federal employees, contractors and staff, will also be required to be vaccinated. Some facilities are concerned about possible staffing shortages and how to adjust to the new circumstances. Whether this Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandate passes or not, it is critical that your healthcare facility continues to run efficiently while being considerate of patients’ health, residents, and communities.

 

How the Mandate Could Affect Critical Access Hospitals and Rural Communities

The day-to-day challenges of acute care can include financial assistance, competition, and operational effectiveness. Since critical access hospitals are located in more rural locations, this can have some disadvantages and struggles. As more traditional hospitals can hold sometimes more than 200 beds and have federal funding, as well as the latest technology, rural communities are more independent as basic financial decisions aren’t readily available. For reference, critical access hospitals are considered to be smaller rural hospitals that house 25 or fewer beds, provide around-the-clock emergency care. This is designed to reduce the financial pressure by keeping these essential services within rural communities.

As things change, it is critical for acute hospitals to have flexible options and ways you can hold tight to your patients, staff, records, and revenue process. The movement to ensure that all healthcare workers are vaccinated is progressing. This new mandate could affect clinics and hospitals by limiting the number of hospital staff. While this movement is encouraging, it is unlikely that all health care and LTC facilities will independently adopt worker vaccination mandates without federal policy intervention.

4 Ways to Increase Critical Access Hospital Stability

  1. Communication:
      • To ensure your clinic can survive if things return to virtual it may be a wise idea to implement a telehealth system. While the medical industry recognizes digital as an enabler of business strategy, the existing digital resources are not as advanced or understood as well. Telehealth has skyrocketed since the pandemic and has offered an eye-opening lifeline. About 65% of care was remote during the peak of the pandemic, and that percentage is expected to stay steady around 25%–40%.
      • Benefits of telehealth include:
        • Helps staffing and scheduling concerns
        • Increased accessibility, convenience and care coordination
        • Additional reimbursement opportunities (CCM, remote patient monitoring and more)
        • Streamlined documentation with built-in integration
        • An efficient alternative to traditional office-based visits
        • Opportunity to reduce readmission rates
  2. Adjusting Schedules and Hiring HCP:
      • Healthcare employers and facilities must have a clear understanding of their specific staffing needs as well as a clear idea of the number of staff needed to better support active patient care and emphasize priorities. Adjusting staff schedules and rotating shifts while keeping your employees’ mental health in mind, is key. Especially since The Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will further issue the vaccinations rule for workers in most healthcare facilities. As well as managing schedules, organizing workloads, and having a fast and secure cloud-based EHR keep hospitals running efficiently. 
  3. Leveraging Data:
      • Use information to your advantage and see how it can help or change your facility. The COVID-19 mandate as well as other precautions and regulations, have an impact on more than 80 million private sector workers. During times of uncertainty, one thing all practices want to know is the health of their facility. Reducing no-shows, monitoring patient scheduling, managing denials, and improving office patient flow can all be done with insightful analytic tools. Leveraging cloud-based solutions that have easy reporting, and analytical intelligence can not only save providers time but help them find ways to increase their efficiency and revenue. If staffing shortages were to occur, making sure providers and practices are financially stable is a must. 

  4. Leveraging Relationships in the community:
      • As COVID-19 progresses, staffing shortages will likely occur due to exposures, illness, or other personal reasons such as to care for family members at home. Maintaining appropriate staffing in healthcare facilities is essential to providing a safe work environment for healthcare workers as well as patient care. Contingency and crisis capacity strategies augment conventional strategies and are meant to be considered and implemented sequentially. If HCP staffing shortages occur in healthcare systems or other state or federal facilities, authorities may determine that HCP with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 could return to work before the full Return to Work Criteria have been met.

Azalea was developed originally with rural communities in mind and understands the struggles these smaller healthcare providers experience. Our mission is to provide accessible, affordable, high-quality care to the communities we serve through rural clinics and hospitals. When it comes to new precautions and regulations, your clinic needs to have a trustworthy revenue process and a speedy EHR. With our simple and modern EHR, providers can release their administrative burden to focus more on patients, all while gathering intelligent insights across their clinical, financial and operational performance. 

Sources Cited

https://www.careerstaff.com/blog/managed-services-provider/how-to-prepare-your-facility-for-healthcare-staffing-shortages/

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/mitigating-staff-shortages.html

https://www.reuters.com/legal/government/how-will-bidens-vaccine-mandate-impact-workers-companies-2021-09-13/

https://journals.lww.com/nursing/fulltext/2007/11001/top_10_tips_for_coping_with_short_staffing.2.aspx

Additional Resources

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