How can healthcare recruitment leaders get ahead of the curve instead of simply responding to short-term needs? Financial pressures, the provider shortage, and disproportionately high labor costs are making it harder than ever for healthcare organizations to develop sustainable medium- and long-range staffing plans. One solution is to find a staffing partner who can provide data and resources that will give your organization a competitive edge.
“Partner with someone who can help you predict and get in front of your needs,” says Melinda Giese, senior vice president of Enterprise Client Solutions at CHG Healthcare. “We have tons of data on what our partners have historically spent, where they spent it, and how they spent it. Access to that aggregate information will help you put more proactive, strategic staffing solutions in place.”
In a recent webinar for the Association for Advancing Physician and Provider Recruitment on overcoming healthcare workforce challenges, CHG leaders shared the following five strategies for optimizing your healthcare workforce.
1. Increase visibility into the details of your staffing spending
Increased visibility into your organization’s staffing spend is the first place to start.
“One of the things I hear every single day from our customers — whether it’s a recruiter, a recruitment leader, or an executive — is, ‘I need to spend less money on staffing’,” says Giese. “It’s really difficult to spend less when you don’t actually know the details of where your money is going.”
Taking a closer look at your healthcare staffing data — especially where you are spending the most on staffing and what revenue is being generated by those providers — will enable you to implement ROI-supported, staffing decisions that will positively impact the bottom line.
“Organize yourself so that you can take advantage of strategic solutions, and that starts with essentializing your system,” says Giese. “Once an organization sees a map of how they’re working, it becomes really easy to understand why there are so many challenges and start rallying around how to organize that work. When the work is organized, you can have more visibility into your overall spend as an organization.”
2. Diversify your approach to healthcare staffing
The healthcare systems experiencing the most success are those that are diversifying their approach to solving healthcare staffing challenges, Giese says.
“It’s fun to see the creativity that’s happening in terms of staffing solutions and what organizations are willing to try,” says Giese. “The main strategic move our most involved partners are taking is to embrace a staffing strategy that is multifaceted and to not use any one lever in order to meet their staffing needs.”
Giese says first and foremost, healthcare systems should lean into their permanent staff and ensure they are in the best possible place.
“Address burnout with them, address flexibility with them, work to retain them,” says Giese. “If those staff physicians have the opportunity and desire to work extra hours, pool them, and use that to fill hours. Then, look to your partners to reach out from there and strategically continue to staff in a physician-short market.”
3. Build strong staffing partnerships
Establishing strong healthcare staffing partnerships will help you achieve both your short-term and long-term staffing goals.
“In the short term, your staffing partners need to be able to support you when you need to staff up or down quickly to fill the needs that you have. But over the long term, your partner has to support your goals, especially your financial strategy,” says Thomas Lanvers, vice president of business development at CHG Healthcare.
Many healthcare staffing firms are good at filling short-term needs. But when you choose your partners, Lanvers says it’s important to ask the following questions:
- Are they helping you meet your long-term financial goals as an institution?
- Are they ensuring you’re getting a strong return on investment from each provider who comes through your door?
- Are they ensuring your utilization is profitable at all times?
“These are all questions that are rarely, if at all, addressed by staffing agencies,” Lanvers says. “A true long-term partner works with you hand in glove in all of these things.”
Partnerships can also serve as the catalyst for creative and innovative solutions, especially when built on mutual trust.
“In today’s physician-short market, people are really getting creative and leaning into new and exciting solutions, and having a strategic partner can really be a game changer,” says Giese. “Building trust with your partner will get you to a place where you can lean on them in ways you might not have imagined.”
4. Lean into telehealth as part of the solution
Telehealth is one area that has emerged as a viable solution to some of the workforce challenges facing healthcare systems.
“Health systems are currently looking for ways that they can reduce costs on their overall staffing expenditure and looking for the right partners to execute a long-term strategy. And a lot of them are turning to technology — telehealth, mobile solutions, and virtual care solutions — to help fill staffing gaps,” says Lanvers.
Telehealth and other forms of virtual patient care can be beneficial to both the bottom line and an effective recruitment strategy.
“With telehealth, not only are you cutting the travel and the cost of placing a physician or a nurse, but often, clinicians are willing to work at a lower pay rate for the benefit of staying home and performing visits virtually,” says Matt Brown, vice president of telehealth at CHG Healthcare.
“Further, there’s a lot of interest among physicians in providing virtual care. We fill almost 100% of the virtual care jobs we offer our physician panels,” Brown says. “So, as recruitment teams are thinking about their open jobs, it shouldn’t be too far a leap to consider a virtual care physician option. You may even attract an entirely separate pool of candidates.”
5. Use locum tenens providers strategically
Locum tenens providers are another effective tool in a strategic staffing toolbox.
“In today’s market, it’s time to develop a locum tenens strategy and not think of locums as something you have to do occasionally under duress,” says Giese. “Make locums a part of your strategic workforce solution.”
The commonly held view that locum providers are a cost center is an outdated perspective; the reality is that locum tenens is a revenue generator when billed for correctly. Avoiding using locum tenens providers is not an effective way to reduce labor costs.
"Not being properly staffed is not managing labor costs. It's actually just kicking the can down the road for something far worse in the future," says Lanvers. “Many health systems fall into the trap of believing permanent providers are always cheaper than temporary providers. While that can be true, it’s important to recognize there are times when a temporary provider is more cost-effective than underutilizing someone on a permanent basis. A strong strategic partner will help you achieve positive ROI on utilization because this ultimately helps you realize your long-term financial goals.”
CHG can partner with your healthcare organization to optimize your healthcare workforce with the physicians and advanced practice providers you need to grow. To learn more, contact us by phone at 866.588.5996 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.