The Ultimate Guide to Healthcare Staffing

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Will your investment in a managed service provider pay off?

Every hospital administrator knows the challenge of having to recruit and manage contingent and permanent labor within their healthcare facility. And with the demand for clinical staff outpacing the number of candidates for those positions, you may be questioning your healthcare staffing system for recruitment and hiring top talent.

The first thing to consider is the effect improper medical staffing levels have on your healthcare facility. If you can’t anticipate staffing shortages and don’t have a reliable pipeline to well-qualified candidates, your facility may be paying more for supplemental staff than it should. Whether you’re considering improving your in-house medical staffing process or hiring a managed service provider (MSP) to handle the work for your healthcare facility, your decision will impact:

Cost considerations

The total cost of recruitment and healthcare staffing is much greater than the money you spend on staff salaries. So, before deciding you’re going to attempt to cut costs by doing all the work yourself, it helps to understand the hidden costs involved in staffing yourself and how they can affect your bottom line.

The cost of your own time

Forecasting staffing needs, recruiting — on your own or with multiple staffing services vendors — screening, hiring, credentialing and onboarding candidates takes time and a great deal of effort. It’s especially demanding if you want to attract top talent that is a good match for your healthcare facilities’ services.

The time recruiting and onboarding healthcare professionals such as nurses and doctors will impact your own productivity, as well as that of your nurse managers. Recruiting healthcare professionals also places stress on the entire healthcare team, even when your facility makes excellent hires.

In a 2019 Workforce Solution Buyers Survey from Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA), when asked what percent of time is spent on contingent workforce-related responsibilities, 76% of respondents noted they spend at least half their time on such responsibilities and 45% of respondents spend 100% of their time, a substantial increase from 2004, when only 16% noted they spend at least half their time on such responsibilities.

The cost of new resources

You may decide to invest in a health technology platform that offers forecasting, scheduling and communications features, hoping it will solve your healthcare staffing problems. New technology offers many benefits but it costs money and requires training, which can take time. You also need an IT expert to maintain it and troubleshoot when the system is down. It is important to consider both the purchase and/or subscriptions costs as well as the long term, ongoing cost of maximizing its functionality.

The cost of contract labor

You want your bill rates to be competitive with the other healthcare facilities in your area in order to attract top talent. So, it helps to stay up to date with current rates and know when someone’s fees are out of line. In addition to travel nurses and locum tenens, it helps to have a mix of international healthcare professionals and temporary-to-permanent candidates to draw from, so you are not as highly dependent on contract labor. If you don’t have an efficient and flexible staffing management process or partner, you may end up paying more than necessary to maximize your fill rates.

The quality of patient care

Improving patient care and experience enables you to meet the quality metrics set in value-based-care contracts. Studies have shown that hospitals that provide a higher level of clinical care receive higher patient satisfaction scores in Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) surveys.

In a 2015 study, high hospital rankings were associated with the level of respect doctors demonstrated to patients, how well doctors and nurses listened to their patients and how well pain was controlled. Making the right hires is critical to patient satisfaction and directly affects the reimbursements and bonuses your facility may receive. You want the best system in place to attract, onboard and retain high-quality nurses, doctors, and all healthcare staffing and employees that puts a priority on patient care.

Your retention levels

It’s important to be able to recognize the cycle of decline in a nursing unit and break it. High impact turnover leads to reduced quality of care, which in turn catches the attention of hospital management. Unit managers who are tasked with improving care quality, may come down hard on frontline staff, creating a slump in morale and more turnover. Without intervention, the cycle of decline repeats and this can become a long term staffing issue.

You want a partner who can forecast your talent needs and help you manage new hires, so you can avoid the cycle of decline. Bad hires cost healthcare facilities an estimated 30% of their salary. They affect the workplace culture and the ability for the rest of your staff to do their work effectively and productively. One of the best ways to control labor costs and improve the work environment in your healthcare facilities is to maximize staff retention rates in your company through better selection, onboarding, training, support and conflict management. Other benefits that improve employees morale include consistent shifts, adequate time off and flexible work environment.

Making your decision

After considering all the costs involved in healthcare staffing, you may determine you have what you need to do the job well yourself. However, when considering the value of an MSP, the chances are that if you choose the right one to be your medical staffing partner, you will pay a similar bill rate for new staff hires and avoid many of the hidden costs of an inefficient healthcare staffing solution.

Not all MSPs are created equal, so save yourself money and undue stress by investigating the differences. A good MSP should serve as both consultant and partner, take a clinically and technology led approach, be transparent in their pricing and work with you to develop a custom solution to match your needs.

When you take the time to do thorough research on the MSPs you are considering, you maximize the chance of finding the perfect fit for your healthcare organization.

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