How to Solve the COVID-induced Staffing Shortages

Healthcare organizations can utilize technology to recruit direct-care workers

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By Kirk Waldfogel, CEO of Model Match

According to the Frontline Health Care Workers Survey, 29% of healthcare workers have considered leaving the field more than a year since the first widespread pandemic restrictions. Over half of workers feel burned out and anxious, particularly among the younger (18-29 years old) staff. Three-fourths of those young Millennials and Gen Z workers reported worry and stress negatively impacted their mental health. Almost half of these healthcare workers assisted patients through bathing, cleaning and housekeeping. Another survey found that 41% of healthcare organizations are concerned with staffing levels and turnover rates. 

The spread of the COVID variants continues to prolong shortages of workers across the healthcare industry, straining hospital profitability and adding to burnout rates. Yet, before the pandemic, studies predicted healthcare staffing shortages well beyond 2022 amongst physicians, in-home health aides, nursing assistants, nurse practitioners, medical lab technicians. These organizations will need to find new and effective recruiting methods to discover and maintain qualified workers. One potential solution is recruitment technology, specifically talent management systems, which can help healthcare facilities support the growth they’ll need to compensate for higher turnover and the healthcare talent shortage. 

Healthcare Recruiting: The Long-Term Perspective   

Not only are talent management systems vital for healthcare companies because of the increasing turnover rates, so too will this technology be necessary to navigate the aging and retiring workforce. Although the higher turnover rates among young healthcare workers are alarming, the most significant shortage contributor is the aging workforce. To put into perspective how much of an issue finding sufficient amounts of eligible workers will be, consider that more than half of all registered nurses are over 50 years old, with just under half of physicians being over 55 years old.

After these workers have retired, there won’t be enough caregivers and doctors to assist the aging Baby Boomer population, which will require 2.3 million new healthcare professionals by 2025. Healthcare organizations need to begin the hiring process today to reach these estimates in time – however, nearly 60% of assisted living providers have reported diminishing staff since 2020. The current COVID-19-induced staffing shortages are just a precursor for what is to come. Businesses must prepare themselves for the inevitable employee scarcities by leveraging talent management systems.  

Leverage Data to Enhance Recruiting  

The most valuable aspect of talent management systems is insight extraction from data. Healthcare companies can gain knowledge, otherwise locked behind seemingly disjointed and unimportant information, by simply importing data from a spreadsheet or any CRM. These insights will help recruiters quickly identify opportunities, reducing research time – likewise, more knowledge gives HR departments the confidence to make data-driven decisions on new hires. Talent management solutions deliver actionable data on-demand, allowing people to have the information they need when they need it to accelerate the recruiting process.

With the average healthcare position taking 48.3 days to fill, companies need to cut that time down not only to be more competitive but to ensure the best possible care for their patients. Moreover, as assisted living and other healthcare roles grow in demand, organizations need to discern between the opportunists and the genuine, qualified employees. Through talent management systems, businesses can take an analytical approach to recruitment by accurately forecasting success from prospect to hire. And with tracking features, healthcare recruiters can monitor performance, activities and status then share reports with leadership.      

Boost Management and Collaboration Capabilities 

Talent management solutions enable healthcare organizations to optimize pipelines, arranging candidates by area, region or position. This technology allows users to zoom in on a single pipeline or take a bird’s eye view into only active ones. These solutions also grant recruiters the power to set reminders, create meetings and add notes in a central and accessible repository, allowing all authorized personnel to access the most up-to-date contact information. Having a reliable and centralized repository of all contacts that are easily sharable with team members maximizes effectiveness.

Similarly, talent management systems help staff maintain focus on the individual pipelines with the candidates they care about while keeping a finger on the pulse of other applicants preventing qualified people from getting overlooked accidentally. Some systems come with features that allow users to tag and assign contacts directly to team members so that staff never miss interviews. The collaboration potential is endless – sharing methods prevent siloed teams from developing and ensure users work uniformly on all projects and missions. Additionally, handoffs between hiring authorities and managers are made seamless through sharable notes and comments on candidates.     

Evolving Technologies 

Beyond the trends of retiring physicians, aging populations and increasing turnover, there are several other factors that healthcare organizations must consider to be successful. Most notably, technology is evolving – meaning that artificial intelligence (AI) and algorithms will soon enable physicians to spend less time testing samples and recording data and focusing more on providing the best care possible to patients. And while these innovations will alleviate some of the strain on short-staffed organizations, ultimately, it will be talent management solutions that allow businesses to hire people who can actually benefit from said technology.

As CEO of Model Match, Kirk sets vision and drives overall strategy for Model Match and was recently awarded a Top 10 Talent Management Solution Provider in 2018.

Kirk’s former companies were winners of VentureNet99, selected to participate in the UCLA Anderson School of Management Entrepreneur Program, and earned a Most Innovative Product Award at CES in 2003. Recently his accolades include winning 2014 CTIA Startup Lab, selected as 2014 Telecom Council of Silicon Valley Most Innovative Product, and winner of the 2014 CES AppNation Garage.

Kirk is also an avid pilot and a member of Angel Flights, a non-profit charitable organization of pilots. Kirk uses his airplane and time to provide free air transportation for those who have medical needs, are financially distressed, or in a time-critical, non-emergency situation due to their medical condition.