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4 Healthcare Leaders Share Challenges and Bright Spots for 2022

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After nearly two years of the COVID-19 crisis, how are industry experts thinking about what’s in store for 2022? What are they hopeful for? To find out, CipherHealth asked four healthcare leaders about the challenges and bright spots they see for the year ahead. A common theme across their responses was resiliency—how to adapt, collaborate and operate, given the pervasive staff burnout, rising labor costs and increased patient/consumer expectations. But there is hope in their answers for what lies ahead—for some relief from being in crisis mode as well as being able to leverage the hard lessons learned during COVID and apply them in the future.

Read on for insights from leaders from Banner Health, Northwell Health, Geisinger, and Community Health Network.

Challenges

“Our biggest challenges all pertain to our teams and how we best support them after the last two years, especially surrounding retention and recruiting. This includes our leaders who oversee these teams who have been so overwhelmed. Many of them, including PX, have put projects on hold while our frontline leaders and staff have been caring for high volumes of very sick patients. We need to be patient and mindful of how we want to move forward with these projects to ensure that we don’t further overwhelm them as we work to return to our new normal.”

Stela Record, Director of Patient Experience, Banner Health

“I think our biggest challenge for the upcoming year is going to be finding balance—in managing COVID-19, continuing to drive innovation, taking care of ourselves, and taking care of our families and communities. The most important thing for all of us to remember is that we are not alone, we have each other.”

– Joe Leggio, VP of Experience Services at Lenox Hill Hospital (Northwell Health)

“COVID-19 continues to be a huge part of our lives, and our hospitals are facing another surge heading into the new year. It’s clear that this pandemic isn’t going away any time soon, so I think the biggest challenge is going to be how do we normalize providing a full spectrum of healthcare services amidst a continuing pandemic. I think the mindset has been, “Once COVID gets under control, things will be able to go back to normal.” Given that COVID is still with us, the challenge will be how do we juggle dealing with COVID and running our normal operations in a more sustainable, long-term way.”

Julianna Nat, Manager of Inpatient Addiction Access at Marworth, Geisinger

“The biggest challenges facing us in 2022 will continue to be related to COVID-19—surges and new variants. This will compound other challenges healthcare is facing related to digital transformation, disruption from non-traditional entrants, and rising expectations from patients/consumers. In addition, healthcare is facing a labor crisis which will continue to get worse in 2022 before it gets better. The rising cost of labor (in healthcare and other industries) continues to force difficult decisions regarding where to spend available capital in 2022. Successful healthcare systems will need to partner with organizations outside of the traditional healthcare landscape (venture capital and private equity) to be able to continue to innovate. This will force healthcare systems to balance innovation with the current state of care related to COVID.”

Dr. Patrick McGill, ​​MD FAAFP, EVP, Chief Transformation Officer, Community Health Network

Bright Spots

“I am hoping for a year in which we can put this pandemic behind us and to start functioning in a more normal mode instead of crisis mode. I think our normal mode will certainly be different from two years ago, as it should. We have learned a lot about ourselves as an organization and how we can think creatively and implement quickly on a large scale when we need to solve problems. I am excited about leveraging this knowledge and experience to implement new programs in the future.”

– Stela Record, Director of Patient Experience, Banner Health

“I am most excited to continue collaborating and working with our incredible, resilient and passionate healthcare colleagues. When the impossible doesn’t seem possible, the team comes together and creates magic! The only way we can continue to face the unknown is to do it together. I am so lucky to work with the greatest team and family in healthcare.”

– Joe Leggio, VP of Experience Services at Lenox Hill Hospital (Northwell Health)

“Personally, I’m excited for my new job in addiction medicine. Nearly everyone has some sort of experience or interaction with addiction, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to improve access to this type of care in my local communities.

For our greater healthcare system, I’m hopeful that 2022 will bring some relief for our frontline staff. It’s been a hard year, like the previous one before it. Our teams are exhausted, and I hope that 2022 will be a year of rest and renewal for those who have worked tirelessly since the start of this pandemic.”

Julianna Nat, Manager of Inpatient Addiction Access at Marworth, Geisinger

“I am most hopeful we will experience some return to “normal” in healthcare. The amount of COVID-19 fatigue and burnout is extremely high and unsustainable for any significant period. I hope, through a combination of vaccination and new treatments, we will see the number of COVID cases decrease and allow the healthcare system a chance to recover from the pandemic. This includes our healthcare workers. They are tired and need a reprieve.

I am excited about the new opportunities and partnerships which the pandemic has forced upon healthcare to require new ways to interact and care for patients via electronic visits, digital navigation and communication, care in the home, and other technologies outside of the EMR. If there have been any bright spots in the pandemic, it has challenged us to think differently about how we deliver care, how patients experience care, and the gaps between. One of these major gaps is health inequities and the role of social drivers of health. I am hopeful we will be able to continue to build upon the foundation laid in 2021 to begin to address systemic issues and give all people an opportunity at health and well-being.”

Dr. Patrick McGill, ​​MD FAAFP, EVP, Chief Transformation Officer, Community Health Network

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