How the Pandemic Reshaped Healthcare Staffing Strategies

Client, Hospital Staffing

Even before the pandemic, there was a well-documented nurse shortage expected over the next decade.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nursing was listed among the top occupations in terms of job growth through 2029. Despite a projected workforce growth of 7% annually, a nurse shortage was already expected due to the average age of registered nurses being 50 years and older, and healthcare organizations across the United States are seeing clinicians retiring earlier than anticipated.

Nhat H. Ngo, Chief Commercial Officer at Medical Solutions recently discussed how the pandemic reshaped healthcare staffing with HealthLeaders. Nhat shares more below:

The emergence of COVID-19 accelerated the labor shortage challenge while hospital units across the country experienced rapid, unanticipated patient surges—only amplifying the issue. As a result, our team at Medical Solutions needed to respond accordingly by partnering with hospitals and health systems to fill critical staffing needs at a faster rate than ever before. We managed sourcing, credentialing, onboarding and training for clinicians while working closely with clients and travelers to adhere to regional and site-specific health and safety protocols.

Importance of technology for recruiting travelers

While communication and a complete understanding of each hospital and health system’s culture remains at the core of a successful staffing partnership, technology plays a vital role in automating processes during the recruitment process—and ultimately improves contingent labor retention rates.

Technology can optimize interactions with candidates and automate an otherwise laborious manual process, securing matches in less time. This became especially important at the onset of COVID-19, when hospitals and health systems still needed the right candidates for openings, but also were requesting upwards of 75 travelers to onboard in seven days.

While the initial wave of COVID-19 led to an aggressive and unprecedented plan of action for rapid nurse deployment, clinical staffing demand remains high and retention has only become more important. Staffing partners need to demonstrate their value beyond simply filling contracts. At Medical Solutions, we work to ensure our partners are forecasting accurately for their projected needs based on their geographies, which naturally alleviates recruiting and retention challenges in the process.

Increasing traveler retention by focusing on skillset and culture fit

At Medical Solutions, our industry-leading traveler retention rate isn’t a coincidence. It’s a byproduct of thoughtful and informed placement strategies. Every one of our travelers has the technical skills for an assignment, but as is true for permanent staff, culture is paramount for contingent labor.

In healthcare facilities, each unit may have its own culture. It’s important that our travelers are the appropriate fit for the unit they are assigned to, as a positive culture leads to more emotional support and better overall staff well-being. In turn, this improves the patient experience and increases satisfaction. The chain reaction of a positive culture benefits clinicians daily while leading to financial benefits for a hospital through HCAHPS reimbursements based on patient satisfaction and outcome scores.

Much like health systems should have a formal retention strategy built around culture, technical and soft skills, experience and credentialing, retention of our travelers is a key driver at Medical Solutions. Our clinical team of in-house registered nurses (RNs) develops longstanding, personal relationships with clients and travelers to find the optimal fit for every assignment, which leads to increased satisfaction and combats burnout and attrition.

Staffing models and strategies help manage costs

The events of 2020 proved that health systems need to respond to a dynamic period with flexibility, and they require partners who understand their unique needs. The industry is facing rapidly changing dynamics in staff supply and demand, and staffing partners who are proactively engaged with health systems will be able to help their clients avoid risks and leverage contingent labor in a cost-effective manner.

This is accomplished through a strong personal relationship with a workforce solutions partner who leverages technology and insights to understand unit-specific needs that your healthcare facilities will need now and in the future. The right partner will help health systems by unlocking data based on predictive modeling and analytics. Clients reap the benefits and can access travelers well before they have a critical need, which leads to cost savings.

A staffing model should take all the advantages offered by technology—automation, streamlined recruitment processes and predictive modeling—and combine it with the human element to develop actionable recruitment and retention strategies that will maximize financial efficiencies and help your health system navigate a challenging environment.

If you’re interested in learning more about reshaping your recruitment and retention strategies, you can learn more here or call us at 866-633-3548. You can also read Nhat’s interview with HealthLeaders.

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