Hospice and home health provider Amedisys (NASDAQ: AMED) is embracing data analytics to reduce staff turnover amid industry-wide staffing shortages exacerbated by the pandemic. The company’s system predicts with 80% accuracy whether an employee may be leaving their positions, allowing opportunities for intervention.
Staffing shortages have been weighing heavily on the minds of hospice and palliative care organization leaders in recent years. More than 35% of hospice leaders surveyed by Hospice News and Homecare Homebase earlier this year cited staffing shortages as a top concern for their organizations, along with regaining access to patients in facilities.
The adoption of analytics is a component of a larger effort to build up the clinical workforce at Amedisys.
“There’s just going to be more of a demand for nurses and staffing shortage. We’ve focused our initiatives for 2021, to really build our clinical capacity,” Chris Gerard, chief operating officer for Amedisys said at the Raymond James Institutional Investors Conference. “We’re expanding our clinical capacity, moving away from contractor utilization as well as driving down our turnover on the nursing side.”
Hospices are already struggling to fill their ranks.The United States has 13.35 hospice and palliative care specialists for every 100,000 adults 65 and older, according to an April 2018 study. The research estimated that by 2040 the patient population will need 10,640 to 24,000 specialists; supply is expected to range between 8,100 and 19,000.
The aging baby boomer population is both a challenge and an opportunity for hospice. Hospice utilization is rising; a record 51% of Medicare decedents received hospice care during 2019, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission. However, many hospice staff members are also approaching retirement, with nearly half of the total nursing workforce expected to retire within the next decade.
Hospices face unique recruitment challenges, particularly because medical, nursing, and social work students receive very little exposure to hospice or palliative care during their training. A 2018 study concluded that most students in clinical disciplines do not feel prepared to provide family care at the end of life.
The pandemic has worsened many of these issues, as staff are experiencing unprecedented levels of stress, burnout and trauma in the workplace. Many companies are seeing higher rates of turnover as the outbreak rages on. Amedisys hopes to stem that tide through technology and other initiatives.
“We’ve been applying this tool very aggressively to drive turnover down. It’s technologies like this — it’s algorithms, it’s data analytics that does that,” said Amedisys CEO Paul Kusserow. “Human capital management is the big thing for us.”