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Healthcare Staffing Trends to Watch in 2019

Healthcare providers are seeking answers to address the growing physician shortage, regulatory upheaval, technology challenges, and tight nurse staffing levels. 
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The healthcare staffing industry is as chaotic and competitive as ever, and 2019 is shaping up to be no different. Healthcare providers are seeking answers to address the growing physician shortage, regulatory upheaval, technology challenges, and tight nurse staffing levels. Let’s take a look at some of the issues that will be driving the healthcare staffing discussion throughout the remainder of the year.

A focus on staff retention. According to the latest Medscape Nurse Career Satisfaction Report, 76% of RN’s indicate that if they could choose their career all over again, they would still choose nursing. However, the fact that the majority of nurses are happy with their career choice, that doesn’t mean they are going to stay in a place where they aren’t happy. Nearly 18% of new RN’s resign from their first nursing job within the first year, and a third within two years. That level of turnover costs healthcare organizations on both the bottom line and in quality. Healthcare administrators will be (or should be) using an all hands on deck approach to identifying the issues within their workplace culture and making the necessary changes to improve their employees satisfaction.

Unconventional hiring in a conventional world. Not only in addressing high turnover rates, but healthcare organizations are facing the challenge of also improving patient satisfaction rates. The methods of finding and attracting qualified staff are evolving to meet the demands of a new generation of nurses. Additionally, streamlining the hiring process from the time of application to acceptance, to on-boarding is critical in a world where the competition for candidates is so tight. Selling a “brand” to attract candidates to the organization is becoming more important as workplace culture and fit play an increasingly important role in recruitment and retention.

Technology driving efficiency. For years now, technology seems to land on trend lists for industries across the spectrum. This year is no different as technology plays a critical role in healthcare and will continue for the foreseeable future. As financial margins tighten, technology solutions are being looked at to streamline workflows, improve diagnostic methods, and improve communication and connectivity. Nursing professionals are challenged with staying on top of the latest technologies while maintaining their place as the face of patient care.

Home Health Care continues to grow. Today’s seniors are working toward remaining in their homes and living independently for as long as possible. In April 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) rolled out changes to the Medicare Advantage program that helps seniors receive more in-home health services. The change includes an allowance for certain non-skilled in-home care services to be included as supplemental benefits under MA. In the coming years, as these changes fully develop, the demand for Home Health Care staffing should continue to increase across the board. Another driver for this demand is that studies show in-home care for chronic and other complex conditions prove to be more cost-effective than traditional hospital care.

Considering that 2019 will be another year of staffing challenges at all levels of the care continuum, many healthcare organizations are seeking out strategic partnerships. Finding a trusted staffing partner can help fill the gaps created by permanent staff turnover while providing value to the bottom line. A 2017 KPMG Hospital Nursing Labor Costs Study found that utilizing contracted nursing staff is more cost-effective than just hiring permanent nurses. Good news for the staffing industry, but also an indicator that the competition for qualified talent will remain fierce.

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