In an industry valiantly defending itself against the pandemic, PPE shortages and antibiotic resistance, there’s one thing that has brought many providers to their knees: an AWOL workforce that has shown few signs of coming back.

Crippling staffing shortages are beginning to feel permanent to some.

“Staffing shortages, exacerbated by burnout stemming from the pandemic, have left many providers scrambling to fill schedules, and have led to additional, increased burnout across remaining skilled nursing staff,” said Julieann Esper Rainville, president of PointClickCare. “This has impacted the delivery of care tremendously, as there are simply fewer providers for the amount of patients who need quality care.”

The historic staffing shortages continue to limit new admissions, creating more hospital bottlenecks and reducing access to necessary care for seniors, noted Deric Blattenberger, CenTrak‘s general manager of senior care.

The number concerned about possibly having to close their doors has continued to grow, he added.

Tim Ashe, chief clinical officer of Wellsky, reports “seeing many agencies and organizations turning away referrals and admissions due to capacity constraints.”

Perhaps now, more than at any other time in recent history, information technology could be the thing that keeps the long-term care industry vibrant and vital. It never gets sleepy, grows bleary-eyed or calls out.

At the center of IT’s heart are powerful machine learning and artificial intelligence mechanisms. One example of innovation suited to LTC are powerful algorithms that can precisely predict the number and kind of workers needed, and where and when, on any given shift, based on resident acuity. Such a feature could ensure staff resources are allocated precisely while saving money and preventing mistakes and burnout.

Providers also are adding automated functions to help with back-office workforce functionality as the labor crunch hits there, too.

What does the near future look like?

“One in which technology has gone from a ’nice to have’ to a ‘need to have’ in terms of boosting efficiency, experiences and overall care,” said Rainville.