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Tech Tackling Healthcare Challenges

The pandemic put intense pressure on the healthcare industry, resulting in staffing shortages and employee burnout. Empeon’s head of HR explains how AI can help improve working conditions.

By Maggie Mancini

Over the past four years, the COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped and challenged the workforce, forcing organizations across the globe to shift priorities amid changing employee preferences. While every industry has been impacted in some way by the pandemic, healthcare workers in particular have faced immense pressure and burnout, resulting in high-stress working conditions and staffing shortages that directly impact patient care.  

As competition for top talent grows fiercer, prioritizing mental health and work-life balance is a strategic imperative for healthcare workers. Pessy Katz, head of HR at Empeon, a human capital management platform for healthcare agencies, explains that while work-life balance is fundamental to mental health and well-being in any industry, it is particularly challenging for healthcare employers.  

“To meet this need, HR leaders should offer flexible scheduling,” Katz says. “Options like self-scheduling empower staff to choose shifts that fit their needs, reducing stress and conflicts. AI can further optimize schedules to ensure appropriate staffing levels while incorporating breaks and minimizing unncessary overtime.”  

Katz adds that automating administrative tasks can also help alleviate burnout, since care providers want to spend time working with patients, not filling out paperwork. Investing in automation technology can streamline those tedious job functions and free up more time for patient care, she says.  

Another employee benefit that’s becoming more mainstream, Katz shares, is earned wage access. As many healthcare providers live paycheck to paycheck, allowing them to access their money between pay days reduces financial strain, which can improve mental health and well-being.  

Katz adds that the dynamic nature of healthcare often requires immediate adjustments to staffing levels, and that AI systems can respond to unforeseen changes like unexpected patient influxes and callouts. By allowing workers to pick up open shifts that work with their schedule, healthcare employers can make fewer unexpected calls to cover staffing shortages.  

“The overwhelming amount of manual, administrative tasks that take time away from more meaningful patient care significantly contributes to burnout,” Katz says. “Implementing HR technologies like AI, automation, and self-service portals can reduce tedious paperwork and data entry.”  

Katz adds that while self-service portals give employees control over basic HR transactions like time-off requests, training, paycheck management, and tax form changes, automation empowers frontline workers to spend more face time with patients and practice at the top of their licenses without getting bogged down by busy work, leading to more engagement and simplifying processes.  

Upskilling Opportunities 

Amid ongoing staff shortages and other industry challenges, upskilling and reskilling initiatives to support healthcare workers are paramount. Recent research from edX finds that about 75% of employees say they are more likely to stay with an employer that offers learning and development programs, with C-suite executives saying that learning and development programs should be focused on upskilling at scale (52%) and driving employee performance (50%).  

“Continuous learning allows employees to maintain and improve their skills, which can make them feel more comfortable and confident in doing their jobs,” Katz says. “Reskilling programs help transition talent into high-demand, higher-paying roles, while upskilling creates internal career progression and reduces the need for external recruitment.”  

Technology provides much-needed assistance to overburdened caregivers and administrators who are trying to keep up with constantly changing regulations, Katz says. By automating administrative tasks, implementing flexible, optimized scheduling, and providing more learning and development opportunities, healthcare employers can ensure that facilities run more efficiently and employees can allocate their resources to best meet patient needs.  

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