JPM 2022: Staffing expenses led to an extra $440M in operating costs in 2021 for AdventHealth

Major disruptions in the healthcare labor market cost hospital system AdventHealth an additional $440 million in operating costs last year.

Leadership with the 38-hospital nonprofit system said during the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference Monday that it is making more investments into its workforce education system.

“The healthcare workforce has seen significant disruption, this includes early retirements, a surge in remote work, the mobility of nursing labor and the resetting of wage rates across numerous job categories,” Terry Shaw, president and CEO of AdventHealth, said during the virtual conference.

Shaw added that over the next nine years, the healthcare system is likely to see 1 million nurses retire and a shortage of an additional 500,000 nurses.

“The pandemic at the care bedside level has taken many clinicians at the twilight of their career, and many have decided they don’t want to work through this process anymore,” Shaw said.

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The system has also worked to implement stronger recruitment and retention plans along with new care models intended to support the medical team.

“There are digital-based nursing tools … that can do specific tasks that a nurse or others would have to do at the bedside,” Shaw said. “We are exploring and have implemented multiple models for team-based care and digital-based nursing to help alleviate the pressure on [registered nurses].”

AdventHealth is also hoping to increase the number of students in its own nursing university over the next five years. Currently, AdventHealth runs a 2,000-person campus across two sites and hopes to increase that to three sites that can teach 6,000 people.

Through the first 11 months of 2021, AdventHealth posted $13.4 billion in revenue and a net income of nearly $1.3 billion with an operating income margin of 6.6%, said Chief Financial Officer Paul Rathbun.

He added that the system’s patient volumes largely rebounded in 2021 compared to 2020 and, in most categories, have gotten back to pre-pandemic levels. The only exception was surgeries, which were put on pause again in some states due to the COVID-19 surge fueled by the delta variant and the winter 2021 surge.