Choosing the Right Staffing Solution During a Healthcare Crisis

Updated on June 15, 2023
Female healthcare worker filling in a form with a senior woman during a home health visit

Every day, hospitals face a challenging situation. The urgent need to ensure continuous patient care while navigating complex staffing, regulatory, and logistical challenges is paramount. This article explores the advantages of using a managed service provider (MSP) versus a direct staffing provider.


Imagine a large regional hospital facing a sudden staffing shortage. Management has time to consider two options: working with an MSP or partnering with a direct staffing provider.

Option 1: Managed Service Provider (MSP)

MSPs offer services such as handling staff fulfillment, onboarding, offboarding, and compliance. In addition, the MSPs’ access to a large pool of candidates through multiple staffing agencies and using technology for management processes is beneficial.

However, some MSPs only specialize in certain types of candidate specialty groups. If a hospital is looking for candidates across multiple specialties, it may have to hire multiple vendors with multiple contracts to fulfill their needs. 

Large-scale operations and automation within an MSP could lead to communication delays and long response times. When an MSP has multiple hospitals submitting many orders at once, the MSP model can make it difficult to determine the highest priority order. 

Most critically, for this situation, MSPs may only support the assignment setup and digital management of the order through candidate submission, assignment offer, compliance, and billing processes. 

Option 2: Direct Staffing Provider

A direct staffing provider specializes in comprehensive healthcare staffing. Their industry expertise allows them to provide knowledgeable, experienced healthcare professionals–rapidly. This direct staffing model incorporates large-scale project management into the traditional travel staffing model–reassuring the client that the qualified candidates show up, stay on-site throughout the deployment duration, and have an enjoyable experience. 

In addition to nurses, they can offer a robust network of hard-to-find, experienced, and skilled healthcare workers such as lab, radiology and surgical technicians; physical, occupational and respiratory therapists; phlebotomists, speech-language pathologists, social workers, clinical supervisors and registered dieticians. 

This wide range of specialties eliminates healthcare providers having to go through a tedious process of establishing multiple contracts to ensure all orders are filled. 

The direct model will include a dedicated account executive and direct access to the operational assets assigned to filling client needs. On-site coordinators are the first to know if an on-site traveler is late or does not show up for a shift. Sometimes, the on-site coordinator can help identify a staffing issue before the shift starts and react accordingly. 

The direct model often offers a comprehensive staffing solution, providing healthcare professionals and managing staffing coordination, hotel accommodations, and travel services—the individualized attention hospitals require. On-site management alleviates concerns that a traver or contracted healthcare professional leaves the assignment or is unreachable.

Although MSPs offer integration into many healthcare providers’ Vendor Management Systems (VMS) for ease of billing, they often lack vital services such as a dedicated coordinator who can be reached 24/7 if there are any issues with replacement staff. Whether choosing an MSP or a staffing solution provider, these factors must be considered:

  • Comprehensive Staffing Solution: Hospitals face the logistical complexities of finding qualified replacement workers, housing them, and managing their schedules.
  • Time and Resource Efficiency: Hospital management must focus on maintaining patient care. The selected staffing provider’s services must significantly save time and resources for the facility’s management.
  • Streamlined Communication: Having a single point of contact for staffing, accommodations, and travel can make communication much more straightforward. This can help to avoid misunderstandings or scheduling issues.
  • Speed and Agility: The selected staffing provider must manage all aspects of the staffing process to respond more quickly to changes in the hospital’s needs, whether bringing in more staffing or providing security services, replacements, and property.
  • Stress for Replacement Staff: Traveling to a new location for work can be stressful. An on-site coordinator will help to minimize this stress for the replacement staff.

While MSPs can provide a broad, general service covering many roles, hospitals benefit more from a specialized direct staffing provider. Their ability to rapidly mobilize professionals and support their temporary workforce with on-site coordination enables them to be a dependable staffing partner. 

Scott Cassady is the Senior Director of Healthcare for Huffmaster
Scott Cassady

Scott Cassady is the Senior Director of Healthcare for Huffmaster.