How WakeMed is using virtual tools to fight the staffing crisis

WakeMed is using digital tools to fight the staffing crisis as it focuses on investing in "people, people and more people," Carolyn Knaup, RN, senior vice president of strategic ventures and ambulatory operations, told Becker's.

Like many other health systems in the country, Raleigh, N.C-based WakeMed has struggled with the rising cost of labor and medical supplies after the COVID-19 pandemic. In fiscal year 2022, the health system reported a loss of $107.5 million.

"When people cost you more – which is your No. 1 expense – and then supplies and drugs and equipment cost you more, but you're not able to increase what you get paid at the same rate, it creates a real challenge," WakeMed CEO Donald Gintzig told the Triangle Business Journal.

Ms. Knaup said that the system is fighting clinician burnout and looking to retain workers through the use of digital health tools. 

"We're giving away free subscriptions to the Calm (mindfulness and meditation) app," said Ms. Knaup. "We are really looking for opportunities to integrate nutritional counseling webinars for our employees to participate on a free basis and mindful meditation once a month that you can log on to and be led through."

WakeMed is also looking to take advantage of virtual care as a way to alleviate the burden on clinicians. 

"I am a nurse, but the reality is that we need those virtual people, wherever they may be, whether they're a concierge from a registration perspective, whether they're a medical assistant on the practice side, nursing or just answering a patient's call bell. We're really trying to see how deep we can take that to ensure that we're hopefully trying to plug some of those holes."

Additionally, the health system is looking at adopting artificial intelligence and analytic tools to allow clinicians to spend more time with patients.


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