Nursing Aide Staffing Shortages- Are Occupational Injuries to Blame?

As we pointed out in our last post, skilled care facilities are facing a growing shortage of nursing aides. A number of factors contribute to the high turnover rates, but chief among them may be the high rates of injury among the aides.

Nursing aides have a very physical job, and must work long shifts on their feet and lift willing and unwilling patients regularly. Nursing aides say that they are often required to look after more patients than they can safely handle—on average, one aide for every ten patients. A telling statistic is that nursing aides suffer more occupational injuries than construction or factory workers.

The high number of injuries leads to a high turnover rate—between 34-75% of nursing aides turn over every year. This is costing the industry much, about $6.3 billion a year, in terms of hiring and training new workers, and experts say the costs could be reduced if better working conditions were implemented.

Nursing Home Staffing Faces Shortages as Population Ages

According to a recent article appearing in the Wall Street Journal, a worsening labor shortage in the care of the elderly is hitting the country just as older generations need help most. Looming retirements in the current labor force, of which one-fifth is over 55, is also a big concern of skilled care facilities and home-care agencies. The three major reasons for the staffing shortage are:

1. Low pay: The median pay for nursing aides is $11.74, almost $5 less than the national average of all occupations at $16.71. Some nursing aides start hourly at barely above minimum wage. Nursing home operators say that while they would like to increase pay, recent cuts in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements make it impossible to do so.

2. High injury rates: Occupational injury rates for nursing home aides are higher than that for factory and construction workers—almost double the yearly rate. Back injuries are prevalent as their duties include lifting patients out of bed, and they are often are bitten, kicked, and spat upon by residents with dementia.

3. Draining work: According to nursing aides, as the shortage continues they are asked to work more hours and care for more patients than they can handle. Industry turnover is high at 43%-75%, compared to other health occupation turnover at 28%.

This story is important for factors and brokers to know about because skilled care facilities and home care facilities, prime factoring clients, are going to face cash flow shortages. Government agencies are giving less money back and facilities need more employees to cover the shortage, a combination which means a shortage of cash. Factoring companies are in a position to help these institutions through this tough time and ensure that the elderly are always cared for.

Job Market Growth Slows; Other Growth Picks Up

2013 is starting off on a good note for some sectors; the question is, will this translate to job growth? According to this Wall Street Journal article from Tuesday, recent positive figures from the consumer and housing sectors are causing economists to raise their growth estimates for the first three months of the year. The revised rate of 3.5% would be the fastest growth pace since the end of 2011 and a kick-start from the stall at the end of last year.

Job Growth Slows

Job growth, though, seems to be slowing down in March compared to February. The Labor Department showed that hiring slowed to 88,000 jobs in March, which is less than half of the estimated amount. These underwhelming results are tempering optimism about sustainable economy growth. It is in following with a recent trend of strong winter months and then a seasonal slowdown in spring- what some call the “April Fool’s Economy.

Overall Picture

While looking at month-to-month data can be useful, economists warn not to put to much stock into monthly results. It remains to be seen whether economic growth will follow recent year trends and slow down over the year, or break the chains of post-recession blues. Like the old adage warns, let us hope for the best while expecting the worst.

The Future of Medical Transcription Under Obamacare

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) introduced measures that lay a groundwork for the widespread adoption of electronic medical records (EMR) within medical institutions. Electronic medical records are a digital files containing health information about patients that are typically filled out by doctors.

With these electronic medical records now mandated by Obamacare, does that leave any room for flesh and blood medical transcriptionists? Medical transcription is the process of converting voice-recorded reports dictated by healthcare professionals into text format. The transcription industry has faced threats before, such as outsourcing and voice recognition software, but the mandated EMRs are likely to reshape the whole transcription industry.

Almost everyone agrees that completely electronic records will never eradicate the need for medical transcription. Instead, experts say that future transcriptionists will simply need to augment their existing skill set with new EMR structure knowledge. The job will evolve with technology, just like every other industry must.  Accurate health documentation is a must, and the human touch is still needed when it comes to doing so.

For more information, see How EMR is Going to Affect Medical Transcription Industry