The workforce challenges that are top of mind for hospital CEOs

In January, the American College of Healthcare Executives released its annual survey of top issues confronting hospitals, and hospital CEOs ranked workforce challenges as their No. 1 concern in 2023. 

The latest survey marked the second consecutive year that hospital CEOs have ranked workforce challenges, financial challenges and behavioral health and addiction issues as the top three concerns, and the third consecutive year that workforce or personnel challenges have been the top-ranked issue.

For greater context, workforce challenges, which include personnel shortages, as well as staff burnout, among other workforce issues, had an average score of 2.3 on an 11-point scale of how pressing CEOs find each issue. Financial challenges, which held the top spot for 16 consecutive years prior to 2022, were listed the second-most pressing concern, with an average score of 2.6. The lower the number, the more concerning the issue for CEOs.

Here are the specific concerns within workforce challenges that hospital CEOs identified, according to the survey:

Note: CEOs could check as many options as they wanted. The survey is based on responses from 241 CEOs of community hospitals (nonfederal, short-term, non-specialty hospitals) who are ACHE members. 

Shortages of technicians (e.g., medical technicians, lab technicians): 87%

Shortages of registered nurses: 86%

Burnout among non-physician staff: 79%

Shortages of physician specialists: 71%

Shortages of therapists (e.g. physical therapists, respiratory therapists): 68%

Shortages of primary care physicians: 65%

Shortages of advanced practice professionals: 32%

Managing remote staff: 27%

Hospital CEOs are citing workforce challenges as a top concern at the same time as a recent Altarum analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data showed that throughout 2023, healthcare saw a rate of employment growth it had not seen in more than three decades. 

Given these narratives from executives and researchers, Katherine Meese, PhD, assistant professor and director at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, recently outlined several considerations she deems crucial in terms of discussing the healthcare workforce. Read more here

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