Sentinel Network survey hasn’t received enough input from hospitals to publish policy reports


Aaron Kunkler


This fall’s Health Workforce Sentinel Network policy reports could forego several categories due to a lack of participation from providers. 

The Sentinel Network conducts twice a year surveys of health care providers around the state and tracks changes in workforce demand and trends. This data is then used to create policy reports. 


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“It is meant to be a tool that amplifies the voices of health care providers and ensures their challenges and needs are heard,” said Ben Stubbs, of the University of Washington Center for Health Workforce Studies which helps conduct the survey and produce policy reports. 

This fall, the network’s survey has only received 153 responses, a significant decrease compared to the 235 responses they received during the spring survey, according to a presentation delivered at an Oct. 28 Washington Health Workforce Council meeting. As a result, Stubbs said they don’t have enough data to publish policy briefings for hospitals of any size, community clinics, pharmacies, and primary care clinics. 

However, they have received enough input from assisted living facilities, behavioral health clinics, dental offices, and nursing homes. 

This fall’s survey began on Oct. 1 and is set to close on Nov. 7, which means there’s still time for health care providers to take the survey. 

Some of the key findings from last spring’s policy reports showed wage competition and burnout were reported and made it difficult to cover staffing needs. Patient volumes were returning to normal in some settings, but providers were serving a backlog of appointments. Employers were also adapting a more stable situation, and perhaps settling into a new normal. 

However, the spring survey came out before the delta variant wave accelerated across the state. 

During the council meeting, Jane Hopkins, executive vice president of SEIU 1199NW, said the Sentinel Network should put more effort towards incorporating the labor perspectives in its policy reports. There is a workforce shortage, but employers won’t be able to know why employees are choosing to leave. 

“When we don’t have that perspective, I think it skews the solutions,” Hopkins said. 

Stubbs said they are interested in improving their responses from labor organizations in the surveys.