Technology is key to improving the healthcare crisis

Like many industries, the U.S. healthcare sector is facing a staffing shortage. The right technology tools go a long way toward helping healthcare providers with recruitment and retention problems by addressing many of the key challenges healthcare workers face. 

America’s healthcare system is on the brink. Cracks exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic nearly four years ago have grown and multiplied. Many healthcare systems are operating at a loss, causing hospitals to limit their services or even close, with these lapses in healthcare availability hitting rural and underserved communities the hardest. Healthcare worker staffing shortages are causing declines in care quality and availability nationwide, contributing to an increasing sense of job dissatisfaction and career flight for healthcare workers. And the public trust in healthcare continues to wane as patients are growing more and more frustrated with the challenges of navigating their healthcare systems to access care.

This crisis in healthcare is painfully visible to anyone who works in the field, from a CEO to individual healthcare professionals. These healthcare workers are truly heroes working tirelessly to ensure the American public can receive quality healthcare when and where they need it. But they are working in a complex and often antiquated system. Each part of America’s healthcare system knows it must improve how healthcare operates, but their perspectives on the crisis vary. At times, it seems as if key players in the discussion around saving the American healthcare system don’t even have a shared understanding of what is wrong and why.

Different perspectives on the problem

On some level, it makes sense that the crises a healthcare CEO sees might not be the same crises for which a nurse, doctor, or patient will demand action. While improving patient outcomes is a shared goal in healthcare, the processes, data points, and labor that go into achieving that goal are plentiful and complex. Our inability to have a clear, integrated view of healthcare operations hinders our ability to create the efficiencies needed to better serve our patients.

Recently released data, along with my discussions with members of the healthcare industry, have made one thing clear: Slow progress in adopting new technologies and incorporating the input of all relevant stakeholders is actively contributing to the crises facing the healthcare industry today. Better, smarter tech adoption enables staff to more easily and quickly manage the processes needed to do their job, enabling them to then focus on their core responsibilities. Integrated technology can also create a unified view of how a healthcare system is operating, facilitating operational changes and adjustments that cut costs, decrease patient wait times, improve workforce management for overworked employees, and ultimately improve the bottom line, while also increasing job satisfaction and improving patient care.

Technology can improve providers’ workloads

Senior healthcare leaders acknowledge that staffing crises are one of the main issues facing the industry today. symplr’s 2023 Compass Survey of Health Systems found that senior healthcare leaders feel that clinician burnout and workforce challenges are the top threats facing healthcare organizations heading into 2024. More than two-thirds of clinicians surveyed believed that their organization had “a difficult user experience for individuals working across healthcare operations software,” while eight in 10 respondents said that working across multiple IT systems complicates their ability to do their job. As it stands today, we have a healthcare system where technological drawbacks are preventing providers from prioritizing patient outcomes over paperwork. This must change. Software should not make it harder for healthcare workers to improve the lives of their patients.

The Compass Survey isn’t alone in its assessment of what ails the healthcare system. A March 2023 study on the same topic by McKinsey found that 45% of inpatient nurses said they were likely to leave their role in the next six months. Among those nurses, the second highest reason for intending to leave was an unmanageable workload. That study also showed that automation and increased task delegation to software could free up to 15% of nurses’ time. This suggests that one critical step in minimizing the healthcare workforce crisis is connecting the right people with the right technology—and making sure there is a minimal learning curve.

Moving forward, the healthcare industry needs to double down on its efforts to invest in technology that eases workloads, creates operational efficiencies, and ultimately cuts costs. We certainly can’t accept the status quo in which 70% of healthcare providers were still exchanging medical information by fax as recently as 2021. Both clinical leaders and IT experts feel that changing this backwards way of working will benefit them—55% of health systems are using more than 50 software solutions for healthcare operations, and 84% want to consolidate those operations however they can, per the symplr Compass Survey.

Across sectors, tech adoption has provided some of the highest returns on investment for organizations. It enables cost-cutting efficiencies, increases employee productivity, and improves visibility across the organization, facilitating better strategic decision-making and operational adjustments. It also lets workers prioritize the creative and operational elements of their work over paperwork, replacing drudgery with the parts of their job that inspire passion. We owe it to every element of our healthcare system, from workers to patients, to provide the necessary tools to emerge from this current crisis stronger.


This article was written by BJ Schaknowski from Fast Company and was legally licensed through the DiveMarketplace by Industry Dive. Please direct all licensing questions to