MHASC Board and HR Committee Focus on Action Plan

The MHA Service Corporation (MHASC) board held a retreat Oct. 7 to evaluate nondues revenue sources that provide financial support to the MHA and to highlight key initiatives that the MHASC is tasked with supporting in the 2021-2022 MHA Strategic Action Plan. These initiatives include workforce sustainability, behavioral health, data strategy, cybersecurity, and diversifying MHASC products, services and partnerships. Workforce sustainability is a top priority for the MHA, and the board explored ways the MHASC can develop and enhance programs and partnerships that best serve members. Members may learn more about the Strategic Action Plan by registering for a virtual MHA Member Forum scheduled from 10 to 11 a.m. Oct. 15.

The board also recognized the MHA Data Services and MHA Unemployment Compensation divisions for serving MHA members with a comprehensive and consultative approach throughout the pandemic. The board received an overview of a potential partnership with LifeWorks highlighting strategies to support behavioral health priorities for MHA members. LifeWorks graciously sponsored a reception with the MHASC board at the meeting.

The MHASC Human Resources (HR) Committee met Sept. 30 to discuss current HR priorities and review its role in guiding the company’s purpose and direction in addressing issues including workforce retention and recruitment, talent development, well-being and safety. The HR Committee has served as a collaborative body for HR leaders to address issues since it was launched during the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, the committee received a report from new MHA endorsed business partner NextJob highlighting career development and outplacement services available for MHA members. NextJob also invites MHA members to register for a webinar Oct. 12 on Building a Professional Brand for Career Growth to address healthcare workforce sustainability and resiliency for staff.

The MHASC provides critical support to the MHA in the form of nondues revenue through its Data Services, Unemployment Compensation Program and Endorsed Business Partner program to address workforce, financial and other business needs. Visit the MHA Business Services webpage to learn more about resources available. Questions regarding the MHASC board and MHASC HR Committee should be directed to Peter Schonfeld at the MHA.

CEO Report — Addressing Staffing Challenges

MHA Rounds Report - Brian Peters, MHA CEO

“There is time for work. And time for love. That leaves no other time.” — Coco Chanel

MHA CEO Brian PetersHospitals have displayed tremendous resiliency over the past year and a half responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. That resiliency has come from the healthcare heroes who have served on the front lines of this crisis and experienced extreme physical and mental stress over the course of three trying surges. Yet that toll has elevated staffing, an already existing concern, to the top of every hospital executive’s mind.

We have said throughout the pandemic that the most significant determining factor of a hospital’s capacity is not physical space, beds or technology — rather, it is available staffing.  Even before the pandemic, we understood that healthcare staffing was a challenge. We currently have a population where the baby-boom generation is maturing, leading to an increased demand for healthcare services. It just so happens that many of those baby boomers also work in healthcare, and the incredible pressures brought about by the pandemic have accelerated their retirement plans.

On top of that dynamic, it has become very difficult for hospitals to recruit and retain staff in an increasingly competitive labor market where many opportunities exist outside of healthcare that offer competitive wages, signing bonuses, free or low-cost training, and the like. Nationally, 80% of nursing leaders have reported an increase in nurse turnover due to the pandemic. According to a 2021 study by Incredible Health, the demand for intensive care and emergency nurses grew by 186% over the past year. We are simply in a situation where the demand for labor currently outpaces supply, with 1.4 million job openings currently in the national healthcare sector according to the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary. In Michigan, simply visiting the Careers webpage of your local hospitals will likely show the dramatic number of openings that are currently available.

Lastly, pent-up demand for healthcare services has stretched existing staff over recent months, as those who were hesitant to receive care for fear of contracting COVID-19 delayed seeing a provider and are now visiting our emergency departments (EDs) at very high levels. In fact, we have seen a 16% increase in hospital ED visits during the latest quarter compared to pre-COVID times in the second quarter of 2019. This pent-up demand is increasing the pressure on our hospitals and staff as people use the ED as a point of entry to the healthcare system.

A contributing factor to the staffing shortage prior to the pandemic was the rate of stress and burnout in the healthcare setting. It is apparent that there are certain jobs, especially those dealing with direct patient care, where the burnout factor is especially pronounced. In response, the MHA has assisted our members in recent years in adopting the Quadruple Aim, a framework that focuses on achieving better healthcare outcomes and has the added goal of improving the mental wellness and work/life balance of healthcare providers to address the issue of burnout. The pandemic has added new urgency to this work.  

In addition, our member hospitals and health systems throughout the state have been active in identifying solutions for our healthcare heroes. Some have offered bonuses and hazard pay to staff to show their appreciation for their hard work. Hospitals are also deploying more resources toward behavioral health support to help staff cope with the traumatic stress that they have experienced over the past 17 months. During Michigan’s three COVID-19 surges, many hospitals also brought in contract workers and traveling nurses to supplement their existing workforce due to staffing shortages, the cost of which came well above standard rates due to the demand. Hospitals have also gone to great lengths to procure record amounts of personal protective equipment for their staff — yet another unplanned and unbudgeted expense.   

For years, the MHA has advocated strenuously to support graduate medical education (GME) in the state budget process, and we have hosted in-person GME Advocacy Day in Lansing events in the past with our partners at the Michigan Osteopathic Association and the Michigan State Medical Society to connect medical residents with their elected officials. GME is critical to attracting medical students and residents from around the globe to Michigan.   

In addition, we advocated for passage of House Bill 4359, which modernized the scope of practice for Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs). Rural providers have a difficult time hiring anesthesiologists, and this new law will allow flexibility for each hospital to choose the anesthesia care model that best fits its location, staffing and resources to offer safe and effective patient care by eliminating the state requirement that a CRNA must work under direct physician supervision. We appreciate all the stakeholders that made this bill possible, as it eliminates a costly regulation while maintaining patient safety.

The MHA has also been active in bringing together stakeholders to identify solutions to healthcare staffing. The MHA Service Corporation (MHASC) Human Resources (HR) Committee was created as a collaborative body for HR leaders to come together and address issues specific to healthcare workforce issues. Led by Peter Schonfeld, senior vice president, policy & chief operating officer, MHASC, the committee has met to discuss current HR leadership priorities and review its role in guiding the purpose and direction for the MHASC efforts to address workforce resources, education, data staff development and more. The committee has also addressed priorities including vaccination policies, staffing shortages, and diversity, equity and inclusion.

We also recently formed the MHA Human Resources Council as a resource for healthcare professionals to provide input on legislative and regulatory issues relevant to healthcare employers. Staffed by MHA COO Nancy McKeague, the council will provide networking and educational opportunities for HR professionals, dissemination of best practices, and data collection and reporting relating to hospital and health system workforce metrics.

The MHASC has also been providing staffing solutions to our members through both the Unemployment Compensation Program and our Endorsed Business Partner (EBP) Program. The Unemployment Compensation Program has seen a dramatic increase in the number of cases filed since the pandemic began, processing over 70,000 unemployment claims in the last year alone, from clients in Michigan and across the country. Their decades of expertise have saved our client organizations tens of millions of dollars while addressing unemployment fraud that has become rampant recently.

We currently have six EBPs that focus on workforce solutions, including Merritt Hawkins, which provides permanent physician recruiting and consulting services. These EBPs have been carefully vetted to ensure they provide high-value services for our members in need of workforce assistance. In fact, we recently added NextJob as our newest EBP to help hospitals better support healthcare workers with re-employment services, which enhances the work of our unemployment program. I’m extremely happy that we have these services available, with other EBPs in this space focusing on compensation, workplace violence training, consulting and performance coaching.

Finally, as we look to the future, we know that telehealth and virtual care, which has seen an acceleration during the pandemic, has the potential to be real game changers for the delivery of healthcare. We will need to do all we can to help ensure that new technologies are adopted in such a way as to maximize access and affordability for all populations, while also doing right by our healthcare staff.

As you can see, the staffing challenges hospitals face are complex; yet across Michigan we are pursuing every tool in our toolbox to create solutions that both bring in top-notch caregivers and retain our healthcare heroes who have treated over 125,000 COVID-19 patients during the pandemic. Michigan hospitals remain committed to protecting our staff and doing everything we can to ensure they feel safe and protected while caring for their patients. From physicians and nurses to environmental service workers and support staff, our hospitals need all levels of team members to efficiently and effectively operate 24/7/365.

As always, I welcome your thoughts. 

Salary Benchmarking is an Important Consideration in Setting Competitive Pay

Salary benchmarking is a process by which managers match internal jobs and their descriptions to similar jobs and descriptions in a salary survey or other source of market pay data to identify the market pay rate for each position. As one of the MHA’s Endorsed Business Partners (EBPs), offers pricing intelligence and strategic solutions to workforce challenges.

In a typical year, annual salary benchmarking helps ensure that an organization’s internal pay rates remain competitive within local pay markets. In 2021, salary benchmarking takes on a new level of importance as organizations have been impacted enormously by the COVID-19 pandemic and undergone major shifts in employment and pay rates. These shifts have not been the same across every industry or job type, so it’s critical to plan benchmarking initiatives using the most current compensation data from trusted sources.

When pricing a new position, it's important to understand not only the key attributes of the positions being considered, but also the best source for the data necessary to conduct an accurate market assessment and salary comparison. The first step in this process is to define the internal position, documenting the key job requirements and attributes in a job description. Then select a relevant data source for the business and compare the jobs and job descriptions there to find the best match for the job being priced. This is critical to an effective salary benchmarking exercise.

MHA members are eligible for discounted prices for’s trusted human-resource-sourced data. Special offers from allow MHA members to stay competitive and set pay appropriately while being fiscally responsible.

Visit the MHA EBP webpage to learn more about available member resources. Questions regarding the EBP program should be directed to Peter Schonfeld at the MHA.

News to Know – Week of March 1

Upcoming events and important healthcare news for the week of March 1:

  • As healthcare systems have battled COVID-19, those working closest to the virus have been significantly impacted by employee burnout. With greater patient loads, provider shortages and unforeseen complications, many have reported decreased positivity about their medical careers. MHA endorsed business partner Medical Solutions has developed a whitepaper that explores the challenges facing healthcare systems and explains how strong workplace cultures can lead to better recruitment, retention, and employee satisfaction during the pandemic and beyond. For more information on the MHA Endorsed Business Partner program, contact Peter Schonfeld at the MHA
  • The MHA is coordinating two free educational webinars hosted by DataGen to review the Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) quality-based programs. The webinar offered from 1 to 2 p.m. March 3 will review the Medicare value-based purchasing program, and the webinar available from 1 to 2 p.m. March 10 will review the readmissions and hospital-acquired conditions reduction programs. There is no cost for members to participate in the webinars, but registration is required. Members with questions should contact Vickie Kunz at the MHA.

MHA Service Corporation Board, Human Resources Committee Meet

At its Feb. 11 meeting, the MHA Service Corporation (MHASC) Board of Directors discussed and evaluated nondues revenue sources for the MHASC during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond to provide financial support to the MHA. In the coming year, the performance of current services will be reviewed for renewals, and priorities for new initiatives will be considered.

The board discussed how best to position the association’s enhanced data collection strategy to address recent federal provisions calling for the funding and establishment of statewide all-payer claims databases (APCDs). The MHA Board of Trustees plans to form a subcommittee with content expertise to advise the association on relevant considerations and provide the MHA Board of Trustees with recommendations on how best to use APCDs. The board also recognized the MHA Unemployment Compensation Program for managing an unprecedented number of pandemic-related unemployment claims with an aggressive, comprehensive and consultative approach.

The MHASC Human Resources (HR) Committee met Feb. 16 to discuss current HR leadership priorities and review its role in guiding workforce initiatives related to resources, education, data, staff development and more. The committee addressed priorities including COVID-19 vaccination coordination, staffing shortages, virtual work, diversity, unconscious bias and grief leadership/resilience resources. The committee further discussed developing an MHA HR Council as a resource for healthcare professionals.

The board and HR Committee received a report from MHA endorsed business partner HealthEquity outlining a cohesive, integrated benefits program designed to provide employees with resources to maximize their health savings account and flexible spending account benefits. HealthEquity will provide more information in a member webinar from 3:30 to 4 p.m. EST March 3, and members may contact Rob Wood at the MHA to register.

The MHASC provides critical support to the MHA in the form of nondues revenue through its Endorsed Business Partner program, Data Services and Unemployment Compensation Program. Visit the MHA Business Services webpage to learn more about available member resources.

Questions regarding the MHASC Board of Directors and HR Committee should be directed to Peter Schonfeld at the MHA.

Report Depicts How COVID-19 is Affecting Physicians

Merritt Hawkins

Merritt HawkinsMerritt Hawkins, an endorsed business partner of the MHA, conducted the Physician’s Foundation Survey of American Physicians in three parts in 2020 and recently released the final results. Each part of the survey focused on a different aspect of COVID-19 and how it has affected physicians and their patients. Part One, released in August, looked at how the virus has affected physician practices and their patients. Part Two, released in September, examined how the virus has affected physician well-being.   Part Three, released in October, reflects future steps physicians believe should be taken to improve the healthcare system in light of the pandemic.

When asked what immediate policy steps could be made to improve the healthcare system, physicians rated “streamlining/simplifying prior authorizations” as the most important step, followed by simplifying access to mental health services.  Physicians also identified “adding more physician leaders” as a key step to enhancing the healthcare system.  

Part Three of the survey includes further data regarding how physicians view the importance of addressing the social determinants of health, limiting or eliminating surprise medical bills, determining the impact on drug costs of Pharmacy Benefit Managers and a range of other topics.

“The 2020 Survey of America’s Physicians: Covid-19 Edition offers valuable insights into how physicians on the front lines of care have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, how they have reacted to it, and where they believe we should go from here,” said Kurt Mosley, vice president of strategic alliances for Merritt Hawkins.

MHA members can use the survey data to gain insight to the current state of physician morale and physician practice patterns as they have been affected by COVID-19. A copy of the 2020 Survey of America’s Physicians: Covid-19 Edition may be requested online or by contacting Ben Jones, regional vice president of marketing, Merritt Hawkins. Members should contact Peter Schonfeld at the MHA for more information on the Endorsed Business Partner program.

New Guide to Hospital Partnerships Available to MHA Members

MHA Endorsed Business Partner Juniper Advisory has released a book providing a start-to-finish look at what it takes to create a successful hospital partnership. The book, “A Healthcare Leader’s Guide to Successful Mergers & Acquisitions,” includes articles from Juniper and leading partners in the healthcare field about partnership evaluations, transaction structures, legal considerations, communications and more. The book may be downloaded at no cost.

For more information about Juniper and its extensive work in Michigan, contact Rex Burgdorfer at Juniper Advisory. Much of the company’s work involves executive-level strategy advisory, including board retreats and educational sessions.

MHA-member work with the association’s Endorsed Business Partners supports the MHA and its member services. Questions regarding the MHA Endorsed Business Partner Program should be directed to Peter Schonfeld at the MHA.

MHA Service Corporation Board Discusses COVID-19 Resources and Response

The MHA Service Corporation (MHASC) convened a meeting of its board of directors June 24 to assess programs and services to support key initiatives in the 2019-2020 MHA Action Plan. Much of the meeting was dedicated to a discussion of the COVID-19 pandemic. The MHASC continues to focus resources during the COVID-19 response to assist members with unemployment, data analysis, workplace violence education, financial recovery, staffing, emergency preparedness activities and leveraging/expanding business partner relationships. The board discussed potential resources to address MHA priorities in the 2020-2021 program year, including national COVID-19 business partnerships, telehealth and multistate opportunities.

The board received a report from Juniper Advisory outlining the financial strain resulting from the pandemic and how it changed the merger and acquisition landscape, existing and emerging competitors growing rapidly in the telemedicine and ambulatory settings, and whether partnering with these disrupters should be contemplated. Juniper Advisory is an MHA endorsed business partner providing experienced and dedicated strategic advice to healthcare organizations and other multiproduct financial service companies.

The MHASC board welcomed David Leonard, chief legal officer, Spectrum Health, as a newly appointed board member with a term ending in 2021, which was approved by the MHA Board of Trustees at its last meeting. It also reappointed Brett Furst, founder and CEO, Foresight Ventures, and Dennis Smith, chief operating officer, Dickinson County Healthcare System, to terms expiring in 2023.

The MHASC provides critical support to the MHA in the form of nondues revenue through its Endorsed Business Partner program, Data Services, and Unemployment Compensation Program. Visit the MHA Business Services webpage to learn more about options available. Questions regarding the MHASC board should be directed to Peter Schonfeld at the MHA.

MHA Service Corporation Board Addresses MHA Action Plan Priorities

MHA Service Corporation

The MHA Service Corporation (MHASC) convened a meeting of its board Jan. 30 to assess and further develop programs and services to support key initiatives in the 2019-2020 MHA Action Plan. 

MHA Service Corporation The board received a report on activities of the MHA Enhanced Data Task Force, which was established to identify data priorities, pilot initiatives, governance and privacy issues, and value propositions, providing guidance and recommendations to the MHA Board of Trustees. The MHASC Board continued to discuss how best to position the association and its members to collect and use data to drive improvements in population health, advance advocacy objectives, and serve members’ operational needs. The MHASC Board also received an update on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services rules for price transparency and discussed their impact at the federal and state levels.

In addition, the MHASC held the inaugural meeting of its Human Resources Committee to address current issues, consider future healthcare workforce needs, and provide input to the MHASC Board on innovative solutions to improve value and performance. Workplace safety and wellbeing is an MHA strategic priority and is supported by education and training from MHA Endorsed Business Partner HSS and efforts of the MHA Workplace Safety Collaborative. The committee provided feedback on activities in these areas and reviewed the initial charter. Its next meeting will be held in conjunction with the Michigan Healthcare Human Resources Conference in March.

The MHASC board welcomed its newly appointed members as approved by the MHA Board of Trustees at its last meeting, including Betty Chu, MD, MBA, associate chief clinical officer and chief quality officer, Henry Ford Health System, Detroit; Brian Connolly, retired CEO and chief transformation executive, Beaumont Health System, Southfield; Marita Hattem-Schiffman, president, MidMichigan Medical Center-Gratiot/Mt. Pleasant/Clare; and Kent Riddle, CEO, Mary Free Bed Hospital, Grand Rapids.

To learn about MHASC services available to MHA members, visit the MHA Business Services webpage. Questions on these options or about the MHASC board and human resources committee meetings should be directed to Peter Schonfeld at the MHA.