Survey of Healthcare Workers Reveals That Nurse Shortage Is a Leading Threat to Their Industry

SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–In honor of Certified Nurses Day, health tech company Carta Healthcare®, whose mission is to harness the value of clinical data, today released the results of a survey about the pain points that healthcare professionals are currently experiencing. The survey also reveals their hope that new technologies including artificial intelligence (AI) could help combat burnout and the nurse shortage.

Carta Healthcare’s February 2024 survey of 500 U.S. healthcare workers found that they consider the biggest threats to the healthcare industry are high care costs (74.3%), the nurse shortage (63.1%), and the lack of personnel to care for the aging population (58.6%). These results align with a Carta Healthcare October 2022 healthcare consumer survey, where consumer respondents agreed that high costs and lack of personnel were among the top concerns.

“On Certified Nurses Day, we thank the nurses and practitioners who are on the front lines day in and day out, fighting for our health and wellness. These survey results show that the labor shortages have been increasingly challenging for the well-being of staff, causing burnout for over half of healthcare professionals today. The results also reveal confidence that technology such as AI can help. Carta Healthcare is dedicated to improving patient outcomes and helping nurses do their administrative work more efficiently, freeing their time to instead spend with patients, which we know is most important to them,” said Carta Healthcare CEO Brent Dover.

According to consumers in the Carta Healthcare October 2022 healthcare consumer survey, overwhelming paperwork seems to be a leading cause of healthcare burnout. When polling healthcare workers, however, over half (58%) say that being short staffed is the biggest factor for burnout, followed by low pay and long hours (46.6%). Healthcare professionals also cite the following reasons for burnout:

  • Quality of care has declined (27.9%)
  • Personnel issues (27.5%)
  • Quality of necessary supplies and equipment (26.3%)
  • Lack of leadership (23.9%)
  • Admin/paperwork (22.3%)
  • Politics/ bureaucracy and red tape (20.9%)

In the October 2022 consumer healthcare survey, 62% of consumers said they have a generally positive experience with the healthcare system in the U.S. However, across the board, consumers felt that wait times during healthcare visits have become longer (46%). In response to those consumer survey results, healthcare workers admit that the catalyst is a lack of staff. Thirty-five percent (35.1%) of respondents want to say, “We are doing the best we can with the little staff we have.” Similarly, 27.9% would say, “If we don’t increase healthcare staff this year, patients can expect to see more and longer wait times.”

Job satisfaction issues

Knowing what they know now, a third (37.1%) of healthcare workers say they would choose another career path. When healthcare professionals were asked if they were to leave their current position, what likely would be the reason(s), responses align with the pain points that are causing burnout:

  • Low pay and long hours (53.8%)
  • Short-staffed facilities (45.4%)
  • Lack of leadership (31.5%)
  • Personnel issues (31.3%)

Healthcare workers similarly identified several factors that could increase their job satisfaction, including higher pay (65.3%), more staffing to limit the burden (48.2%), the ability to have more time for direct patient care (32.1%), and technological advancements to help them do their jobs (29.1%).

The post-pandemic workload

Over half of respondents feel that their health systems are just as strained — if not more — than they were during the COVID-19 pandemic. Over a quarter (29.3%) say that their workload feels just as heavy as it was during the pandemic, while 23.3% say it is even heavier.

New technologies to combat the threat of labor shortages

Healthcare professionals hope that the AI-induced efficiencies, as demonstrated by other industries, will spill over to healthcare to help reduce the impact of worker shortages. Between healthcare workers and consumers, however, positive perceptions and awareness of AI in healthcare seem to differ.

The vast majority of healthcare workers (86.1%) feel they have a good understanding of how AI is used in healthcare, compared to only 57% of consumer respondents in the Carta Healthcare August 2023 healthcare AI consumer survey.

Although nearly three-quarters (73.1%) of healthcare professionals report knowing if they are actively using AI in their health practice, this isn’t common knowledge for consumers. According to Carta Healthcare’s August 2023 healthcare AI consumer survey, nearly the same percentage (71%) of consumers don’t know whether or not their healthcare providers use AI. This suggests a need for education around emerging technologies as it relates to the public’s healthcare.

Healthcare workers and consumers agree on one point regarding AI: They have trust issues. Just over one-third (36.7%) of healthcare workers say they trust AI in healthcare. Similarly, only 38% of consumers trust AI in healthcare. This underscores the need to always have a human subject matter expert (SME) in the loop to review AI results and make decisions; AI should never be trusted to make healthcare decisions or present information to a patient without SME review.

Despite reasonable AI trust issues that can be addressed with human review, the vast majority (85.3%) of healthcare professionals believe AI can help improve patients’ healthcare experience, and more than three-quarters (76.9%) think that AI could be useful to help combat labor shortages. Healthcare workers cite specific AI use cases that have already helped the most to combat labor shortages, such as AI for data analytics, entry, and management for clinical documentation (73.9%), followed by AI/automated tools to reduce duplicate paperwork (65.7%).

The new healthcare technologies that healthcare workers are most excited about include:

  • Medical imagery to spot early diseases (55.6%)
  • Technology to facilitate data entry and paperwork to reduce the administrative burden (52.2%)
  • Diagnostic expediency for better patient outcomes (49%)

Survey methodology

A national online survey of 502 healthcare professionals was conducted by Propeller Insights between January 30th and February 7th, 2024. Respondents opted in to an online database; from there, they were targeted based on demographics. To further confirm qualifications, respondents were asked to verify their information in the survey itself with self-identifying qualifications. The maximum margin of sampling error was +/- 4 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

About Carta Healthcare

Carta Healthcare was founded in 2017 by a team dedicated to creating a healthier future by advancing the technology surrounding data practices. Today, Carta Healthcare is a leader in delivering improved data gathering solutions to healthcare systems related to a patient’s diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes. Carta Healthcare’s solutions have revolutionized the processes surrounding registry databases, resulting in markedly faster data collection, superior quality of data, and considerable cost savings for healthcare providers.