Tech is connecting health systems & workers amid growing shortages

Even as surges of Covid-19 cases continued through the summer of 2021, the healthcare industry has seen a mass exodus of its most valued resource: its workers. But, as with many crises during the pandemic, healthcare organizations are turning to technology to help them staff their facilities.

Companies like Nomad Health, CareRev and Indeed are allowing provider organizations to eschew the traditional staffing agency route and directly get in touch with potential hires. With the pandemic giving rise to a need for short-term and emergency staffing, these platforms can give health systems the flexibility they need.

Since the pandemic began, nearly one in five healthcare workers have left their jobs, according to a September survey of 1,000 workers conducted by Morning Consult.

With worker shortages worsening over the summer, in some cases due to resignations prompted by vaccine mandates, some states attempted to address the issue through government orders. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed an executive order last month enabling licensed workers from other states to provide care in New York without being registered or licensed in the state.

“Covid-19 hit everyone hard, but some industries were hit extremely hard,” said Pamela Ridgeway, chief diversity officer and vice president, talent, at ChristianaCare, in an email. “Healthcare is one of the industries that has been hit the hardest.”

There are a range of factors driving this trend, including an older clinical workforce that is quickly reaching retirement age and burnout from the ongoing pandemic.

Further, the aging Baby Boomer generation is stressing an already depleted workforce.

“The Baby Boom generation is aging into the 65-plus [age] bracket at the rate of about 10,000 people a day,” said Dr. Alexi Gharib Nazem, co-founder and CEO of healthcare staffing technology company Nomad Health, in a phone interview. “And people over the age of 65 tend to use about three times [the amount of] healthcare services as people under the age of 65. There is just this natural increase in demand that is happening in the healthcare system. The increase in supply, i.e., nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals, is not keeping pace.”

To cope, health systems have had to get creative with regard to recruiting and retaining staff.

ChristianaCare is offering sign-on bonuses for some of its harder-to-fill positions, Ridgeway said. It is also focusing on teaching current caregivers new skills via programs like its Health Information Management Coder Program that provides coding lessons.

Technology has also figured heavily in the health system’s response to the staffing crisis.

The Newark, Del.-based organization has used online platforms Indeed and Brazen to host virtual career fairs.

“Also, we have greatly increased our social media advertising on Facebook, and we are using targeted ads as well as leveraging technology on LinkedIn to identify and contact individuals with skills and experiences that match our needs,” Ridgeway said.

The main benefit that technology can provide health systems as they cope with staffing challenges is flexibility.

“Facilities should supplement their full-time staff with local healthcare professionals who can pick up shifts as needed,” said Will Patterson, CEO of health staffing platform provider CareRev, in an email. “Technology will help by making it possible to scale. Today’s spreadsheets and manual processes cannot handle the recruiting, vetting, onboarding and management of hundreds of flexible professionals — but technology can. ”

CareRev offers a marketplace platform for health systems and local healthcare professionals to connect online.

“Facilities post shifts on the platform when they have staffing gaps and professionals pick up those shifts through our mobile app — no agency required,” Patterson said.

Similarly, Nomad Health, which provides an online marketplace for temporary clinical jobs, connects health systems and workers, enabling them to interact directly.

“It’s kind of like Air BnB, but instead of renting a house, you are short-term staffing,” said CEO Nazem. “In an automated way, we can ensure that clinicians get the jobs that they want, and health systems get the clinicians that they need.”

For example, a health system can use the platform to put in their qualification requirements and get a list of workers with those credentials. Conversely, healthcare professionals can put in their work preferences and find a position that fits the bill.

Nomad Health recently raised $63 million in equity and debt financing in a round led by Adams Street Partners, bringing the total amount it has raised since its founding in 2015 to over $100 million.

The staffing shortage trend is expected to continue, which means health systems will have to make use of all the resources at their disposal to ensure they have the necessary staff.

Photo credit: Chinnapong, Getty Images















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