Staffing Lessons of 2023: A Glimpse into the Future of Healthcare

Staffing Lessons of 2023

In the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare, adaptability, and innovation are paramount. Dara Webb, Vice President of Women and Children’s Patient Services at Mercy Hospital, shared insights on the transformative staffing lessons learned in 2023 and her bold predictions for 2024. The spotlight? Staffing is a critical component of healthcare delivery that demands a holistic approach.

Staffing Lesson 1: Granting Nurses More Flexibility

One of the significant revelations of 2023 at Mercy Hospital was the realization that providing nurses with more flexibility was not only beneficial but also essential. Dara Webb emphasized the need to innovate in staffing, considering the holistic well-being of healthcare professionals, not just physicians. The introduction of gig coworkers and remote coworkers, including a fully remote virtual RN triage team, showcased Mercy’s commitment to meeting the diverse needs of its nursing staff.

The decision to retain nurses in roles like triage for those who preferred not to be at the bedside might have raised eyebrows initially. Physicians may have had reservations about removing nurses from the clinic setting, but the payoff was evident. Nurses appreciated the newfound flexibility, and, as per Ms. Webb, the innovation was undoubtedly worth it.

Staffing Lesson 2: Prioritizing Health Equity

As the healthcare industry advances, so does the emphasis on health equity and value-based care. Mercy Hospital’s commitment to health equity reflected in its dedicated efforts. The employment of four OB social workers and two community health workers specifically for OB clinics demonstrated an initiative to address the unique needs of different patient populations.

The regional approach, extending outreach to areas beyond St. Louis, exemplified a commitment to ensuring that health equity reaches every corner of the community. Looking forward, Mercy aims to strengthen its maternal health equity program by engaging with community organizations. The goal is not only to collaborate but also to ensure a culturally competent environment and trauma-informed care for families.

Staffing Lesson 3: Embracing Value-Based Care Initiatives

Value-based care is a pivotal aspect of modern healthcare, and Mercy’s initiatives in this realm were no exception. While most of the value-based contracts were in the primary care space, the hospital also ventured into agreements with Medicaid and some commercial lives, focusing on pediatric patients and maternal care.

Quality measures, such as prenatal care and vaccination rates, were at the forefront of their evaluation. Dara Webb challenged healthcare executives to explore value-based improvements beyond Medicare Advantage. The call was to apply the best practices learned from these initiatives to build infrastructure around primary care for various patient demographics, including senior, obstetric, and pediatric patients.

Bold Prediction for 2024: Hospitals at Home and Patient Incentivization

Looking ahead to 2024, Dara Webb’s bold prediction revolves around the increasing importance of “hospitals at home.” Moreover, by recognizing the challenges of limited beds and staff, she highlights the need for new investments. Investment in programming and building our own infrastructure to ensure patients receive the right care in the right place.

Additionally, there is a call to incentivize patients and caregivers, providing them with the necessary training and resources. The goal is to empower individuals to manage their loved ones’ care at home effectively, reducing the need for hospitalization and fostering a more patient-centric approach to healthcare.


The staffing lessons of 2023 from Mercy Hospital offer a glimpse into the future of healthcare. The industry’s evolution requires a delicate balance of flexibility, equity, and value-based care initiatives, with a bold eye toward innovation and patient-centric solutions. As we embark on the challenges of 2024, these lessons serve as a compass, guiding healthcare organizations toward a more resilient and responsive future.

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