- Dramatic changes have swept through the healthcare industry since 2020. The pandemic highlighted significant gaps in healthcare and demonstrated that decision-making should not rely solely on public health experts.
- 2023 nursing healthcare trends will be led by the fallout of a momentous nursing shortage and growing technological changes.
- 2023 should also bring a renewed focus on nurses’ mental health, wearable medical devices, and a rise in virtual medicine.
Dramatic changes have swept through the healthcare system since 2020 when the World Health Organization announced the world was facing a pandemic. The pandemic highlighted many of the gaps in healthcare that affected certain populations. It also revealed the shortcomings of a decision-making chain that relied solely on public health experts.
The current nursing shortage, which began in 2012, has been made worse by the pandemic and the looming number of nurses reaching retirement age. In the face of these challenges, it’s important to prepare for upcoming changes to healthcare. Find out what nursing trends to expect in the year ahead.
10 Nursing Trends We Expect to See in 2023 and Beyond
As the baby boomer generation ages, the complexity of healthcare rises. All baby boomers will reach retirement age by 2030, including a large contingent of nurses.
Nursing and healthcare leaders expect to see the following 2023 nursing healthcare trends that will affect management and care delivery.
1. Job Growth Will Continue to Rise
Job growth is a function of supply and demand. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job growth rate for registered nurses through 2031 is 6%. This is as fast as the overall average for all occupations. However, the estimated growth rate for nurse practitioners (NPs) is 40%, much faster than average.
The supply of new nurses is impacted by a shortage of nursing faculty. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 91,938 qualified applicants were turned away from baccalaureate nursing programs in the 2021-2022 school year.
Schools cite an insufficient number of preceptors and clinical sites as the reason for denying admission. However, it’s the faculty shortage that most schools said was the top reason for not admitting qualified candidates.
The supply of nursing staff is also affected by the number of nurses who say they will quit by the end of 2022. According to one survey, 34% of nurses said they would quit their jobs by the end of the year, citing nurse burnout and a high-stress environment as reasons.
2. The Nursing Shortage Will Be a Top Priority
Rising demand for nursing staff to care for patients with more complex healthcare needs and a falling supply of nurses has contributed to the largest nursing shortage the U.S. has ever experienced. The shortage is expected to intensify through 2023.
Nursing programs and states are coming up with nursing shortage solutions. For example, nursing programs are addressing the nursing shortage by offering rolling admissions to accommodate more students. Other colleges are opening new programs.
Nursing programs are working to facilitate creative clinical opportunities and engage in public and private partnerships. These strategies offer students greater scheduling flexibility and more clinical opportunities. Several states are reviewing general nurse staffing requirements and increasing funding to healthcare institutions.
Some states are also investing in nursing education to increase the number of new nurses. Finally, others are evaluating increasing pay and establishing safer nurse-to-patient ratios.
3. Increased Funding Will Impact Staff
The nursing shortage will be a top priority for hospitals, government agencies, and nursing programs in 2023. In October 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor announced $80 million in grants to increase the number of nursing faculty and support more nurses entering nursing programs.
Grants will be awarded to organizations that propose strategies to support underrepresented populations as they attend nursing programs. Successful grant applicants will propose programs that attract new nurses while building community partnerships.
4. Reliance on Travel Nursing and Per Diem Staff Will Continue
Healthcare institutions have relied on travel and per diem nurses to fill the gaps in staffing and ensure safe patient care. When the demand exploded during the pandemic, so did the hourly rates that hospitals were charged, which increased 213% from 2019-2022.
As travel nurse salaries rose, so did the number of nurses who quit their full-time employment to make more money traveling. This has put the current healthcare system in financial jeopardy and put patients’ lives at risk.
However, while strategies are in place to increase the number of new nurses, it will realistically take between 2-4 years for those nurses to reach the bedside. In the meantime, hospitals may continue to need travel nurses to fill the gaps, which may have a significant impact on each institution’s financial stability.
5. Renewed Focus on Nursing Mental Health
The growing nursing shortage has highlighted the critical need to pay greater attention to nurses’ mental health. Stress, fatigue, and burnout have taken a toll on nursing staff and are a primary driver in the mass exodus of nurses in 2022.
Although there are countless resources available for healthcare workers, healthcare institutions must do a better job of ensuring workers know these resources exist. They must also encourage staff to prioritize preventing nursing burnout.
Digital access to resources makes the process simple and easy. For example, virtual therapy is available to nurses, as are mobile apps for nurses that help users improve their sleep quality or guide them through meditation, exercise, journaling, or expressing gratitude. Each of these factors can help protect mental health and lower burnout rates.
6. Increase in Patient Wearable Medical Devices
One of the 2023 nursing healthcare trends is the rising reliance on wearable medical devices, which are not limited to watches and Fitbits. Patients can also opt for implantable devices that monitor critical trends and send the data to the patient’s mobile device. The information is then wirelessly sent to their physician or monitoring company.
The global value of the wearable medical device market is expected to grow 19.1% through 2031, reaching an estimated $183.8 billion. However, the growth in the U.S. is even greater. In 2021 the market was worth $21.3 billion and is estimated to grow 28.1% from 2022-2030.
7. Integration of Primary Care and Behavioral Health
Medicare has begun prioritizing behavioral health and recorded telehealth visits have skyrocketed. This is likely to continue since telehealth services integrate well with behavioral health. They offer patients a unique and personalized approach.
The U.S. Health and Human Services Office reports the number of telebehavioral health visits rose by 3.090% from 2019-2020. Destigmatizing mental health and a greater understanding of how mental and physical health are intertwined should lead to a more holistic approach to primary care.
This is a burgeoning opportunity for nurse practitioner-led practices in states that support full-practice authority.
8. Continued Rise in Virtual Care
While most are familiar with telehealth virtual visits, there are expected shifts in the delivery of “virtual” care in 2023 that may include in-person visits. Several regulations increased the flexibility of Medicare reimbursement for telehealth visits, causing experts to estimate the evolution of telehealth may increase rapidly in 2023.
Revenue dictates innovation. Should this flexibility demonstrate better patient outcomes and lower Medicare costs, they could become a permanent part of Medicare reimbursement. Logistically, this move would integrate virtual visits with a higher level of in-home healthcare from skilled nurses and nurse practitioners.
The advancement and evolution of telehealth has the potential to improve healthcare and solve several industry challenges.
9. Increasing Number of NP-Led Practices
In states where nurse practitioners have full-practice authority, they may open their own practice. Currently, there are 26 states with full-practice authority, which means the NP can assess, diagnose, prescribe medication, and treat patients without physician oversight.
There are also several states that increase NP authority to full practice after they have met certain criteria, like the number of hours in practice. The growing number of NP-led practices has had a significant impact on patient satisfaction and patient outcomes.
Kevin Lee Smith, DNP, FNP, FAANP, is the chief nurse practitioner officer at The Good Clinic. He notes there is also a growing shortage of physicians, especially primary care physicians. One way to remedy the challenge of access to healthcare is to utilize nurse practitioners.
“What is unique about NPs is their patient education focus, experience, and holistic care approach. We want to leverage the nursing perspective that takes the whole person into account — the bio-psycho-social-spiritual being,” he says. “NPs are more inclined to take time with patients because that’s part of our education.”
10. Data and Privacy
Many are excited by the collection of patient data, citing improved access to patient information and a potential lower risk that patients will receive unnecessary prescriptions and imaging studies.
However, there is also the question of privacy that has not yet been adequately addressed. It isn’t unusual for large stores or credit card companies to announce that cardholder information was accessed by an outside source.
If your healthcare information can be hacked and released, it may be used to blackmail individuals or to make employment decisions based on the likelihood that a new employee would consistently use the company health plan and thus drive up costs.
Although the convenience of centralized healthcare data is enticing, in 2022, questions about privacy may first have to be addressed and answered before the majority are willing to release sensitive information.
Meet Our Contributor
Kevin Lee Smith, DNP, FNP, FAANP
Kevin Lee Smith is the chief nurse practitioner officer at The Good Clinic with previous experience helping to create the MinuteClinic model and providing early-stage informatics leadership at Zipnosis. Smith has also been an active primary care nurse practitioner and served in faculty positions at the University of Minnesota throughout his career.
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