Hospitals and healthcare systems have spent much of the last three years balancing being in a state of emergency readiness while waiting for the next COVID-19 wave and safely delivering routine health services. Many of the challenges that existed before — a shrinking workforce, an aging infrastructure, and narrow operating margins — have worsened during the pandemic. At the onset of the global pandemic, faced with rising COVID admissions, many hospitals canceled elective procedures and redeployed patient care space in new ways to meet the rising demand for beds and new infection control measures. At the same time, U.S. adults delayed or avoided medical care due to their coronavirus-related concerns causing non-COVID admissions to plummet. Starting the third year of the global pandemic, staffing shortages due to burnout were at an all-time high as hospitals still struggled with COVID-19 admissions while treating higher-acuity patients. Hospitals and health systems continue to face increasing costs for labor, drugs, personal protective equipment (PPE), and other medical supplies needed to care for higher-acuity patients.
According to the American Hospital Association (AHA), America’s hospitals are experiencing unprecedented financial losses — 2022 was the most financially difficult year for hospitals and health systems since the start of the pandemic, leaving over half of hospitals operating at a financial loss at the end of 2022, and with negative operating margins continuing into 2023. As a result, healthcare organizations are rethinking their capital investments while existing facilities are being retooled, expanded, and underutilized simultaneously. In this post, you can read about some of the current issues in healthcare facility planning — fluctuating utilization and forecasting challenges, shortage of nurses, new safety protocols, rapid growth in telemedicine, advances in telecommunications technology, and integration of imaging into most medical specialties.