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Press release

US Healthcare workers on Covid-19 front lines battle physical, mental and financial strain as 1 in 4 expect pay cuts this month

US Healthcare workers on Covid-19 front lines battle physical, mental and financial strain as 1 in 4 expect pay cuts this month

The report from Bain & Company shows frontline clinicians continue to worry about becoming ill, while compensation cuts likely to increase and nearly two thirds are not getting additional mental health resources to cope with the stress

  • April 21, 2020
  • min read

Press release

US Healthcare workers on Covid-19 front lines battle physical, mental and financial strain as 1 in 4 expect pay cuts this month

New York – April 20, 2020 – The majority of healthcare professionals treating Covid-19 patients worry about becoming ill. Yet, according to Bain & Company’s latest survey of US healthcare workers, nearly two-thirds of them are not getting additional mental health resources to help cope with the stress, and one-quarter expect a compensation cut for the month of April. With ER and ICU doctors’ and nurses’ safety already at risk, these factors present an additional threat to frontline clinicians’ well-being. As hospitals lose revenue from the elective surgeries canceled to protect patients and preserve supplies for frontline physicians, additional pay cuts are likely in the coming months.

These are the findings in the second COVID-19 Front Line Pulse Check, a special edition of Bain & Company’s sixth annual Front Line of Healthcare report. The report surveyed over 300 physicians and nurses nationwide, once in March and again in April, to highlight the evolving sentiments and needs of those fighting Covid-19 on the front lines.

“We are looking closely at frontline sentiment as the situation evolves,” said Joshua Weisbrod, a partner with Bain & Company and head of the firm’s Americas Healthcare practice. “The doctors and nurses living this battle day in and day out are the best source of information about what is working and where additional resources are needed. With pay cuts likely to increase in coming weeks and mounting pressure on supplies, businesses and governments must continue to listen intently, incorporating frontline feedback into their strategies.”

Of the clinicians surveyed that expect their pay to decrease this month, half expect to see a cut of at least 25 percent. Healthcare workers in New York were least likely to expect pay cuts, with 17 percent anticipating a decline in pay. Providers in rural areas expect sweeping cuts, with half of rural providers anticipating pay decreases. Nearly 40 percent of providers in Atlanta and Dallas are expecting pay cuts.

Though clinicians’ concern for their own health remains elevated, Bain & Company’s second Front Line Pulse Check highlights some potential relief in areas where cases are flattening, such as LA and Seattle. A much smaller proportion of clinicians in these areas described themselves as very concerned about their own health compared to March. The level of concern has dropped across most US regions, with 56 percent of April 13 survey respondents describing themselves as very concerned, down from 76 percent of respondents surveyed two weeks earlier. In New York, however, frontline clinicians remain very concerned about their health, showing no change in sentiment, as Covid-19 incidence remains at extremely elevated levels.

Bain & Company’s latest survey of frontline providers shows the new ways of working that have cemented themselves into day-to-day activities over the past two weeks.

  • Telehealth: Both primary care doctors and healthcare providers in the ICU, ER and other parts of the front line are turning to digital options to deliver patient care. For frontline physicians, telehealth is primarily a way to perform Covid-19 and other urgent-care screenings. Many PCPs, on the other hand, have moved almost entirely to telehealth, with half of those surveyed using telemedicine in over 75 percent of their patient care. Virtual care is now the norm, with PCPs offering limited office visits for patients who require in-person care but do not warrant a visit to the ER.
  • Redeploying the right specialists: Nearly 40 percent of specialists surveyed report being redeployed to support the fight against Covid-19. New York leads the way on this trend, where nearly three quarters of specialists have been redeployed. Nationally, 72 percent of specialists that have been redeployed feel their skills are being appropriately utilized and 84 percent feel at least somewhat prepared. Those that have not been redeployed continue to treat patients as specialists, for example obstetricians and gynecologists, and view that role as critical during this time.
  • Mental health resources: While 65 percent of frontline providers have still not added additional mental health resources to support healthcare workers in managing stress and anxiety, there are a few bright spots showing promise. Nearly 70 percent of frontline healthcare workers in New York report having access to additional mental health resources, up from less than 40 percent two weeks ago. Clinicians in Los Angeles have seen a doubling of mental health resources available to them, and Boston clinicians report an increase of nearly 25 percent.

While the battle rages on against Covid-19, it is promising to see some rays of hope starting to emerge,” said Michael Brookshire, a partner with Bain & Company’s healthcare practice. “We are seeing increasing levels of clinician confidence from cities where the Covid-19 cases are flattening, as many healthcare systems are adapting coronavirus solutions faster than their Covd-19 caseload. New York and Boston continue to lead the way on adoption, prioritizing the most effective solutions to increase capacity and expand provider support.”

Editor’s Note: To schedule an interview with Mr. Weisbrod or Mr. Brookshire, please contact Katie Ware at katie.ware@bain.com or +1 646-562-8107.

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