Productivity and Technology in Healthcare

The healthcare industry talent shortage is well-documented subject. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) indicates there will be a continuing shortfall of physicians in the future, predicting a shortage of 121,300 nurses by 2030. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare support occupations represent the most significant growth projected over the next eight years, growing by 23%. Healthcare practitioners are ranked No. 2, with an anticipated growth of 16%.

With the predicted shortage, the market will be forced to look for other ways to improve productivity. In my opinion, productivity could be improved in two major ways: legislative changes and technology. Legislative changes could alter the market, and I’ll cover licensing and credentialing in a later post. Here, I discuss how innovation in technology has the ability to improve productivity by changing how talent is accessed.

Transforming Access

Technology is already transforming how we access healthcare delivery. New sourcing and delivery models have enabled organizations to be more agile and efficient. Enterprise healthcare systems have had vendor management systems in place for a decade. In 2016, Kaiser CEO Bernard Tyson indicated 52% of Kaiser’s interactions were done via technology. Teledoc is integrated with my insurance profile. Talent strategy will continue to leverage technology to address patient care. Healthcare organizations will continue to invest in technology that allows them to augment their workforce to deliver healthcare agilely. With the emergence of artificial intelligence, video conferencing, voice recognition, IOT, mobility, big data, and analytics, the question is not whether talent will continue to be accessed via technology, it’s what the future of talent sourcing technology will look like.

PREMIUM CONTENT: Highlights from interviews with leading US healthcare staffing firms

Utilization is frequently examined as a method for examining healthcare productivity. Just-in-time utilization is frequently examined as a way that hospitals will improve productivity with technology. Mature healthcare organizations currently have internal float pools in place. Externally, they rely on contingent labor for additional per diem or travel nurse needs. In order for the internal float pool employees and external employees to seamlessly work throughout the organization, technology must be able to transcend throughout the total workforce. Within manufacturing environments, just in time relies on the precise coordination between businesses and suppliers to ensure prompt delivery.

For the seamless integration of healthcare organizations and staffing agencies to work optimally, vital information will need to be shared by internal and external organizations. Data such as demand, analytics, credentialing, provisionin, and employee capabilities will need to integrate between all parties seamlessly. The level of trust needed for JIT to be successful will require that healthcare organizations view external suppliers as more than just agencies; they will need to be viewed as supply chain partners. Agencies will need to become comfortable not leveraging contractors with sales techniques, but with data and performance.

In the future a nurse manager may click a button to request external float coverage, with the request prompting a push notification directly on the contractors’ phone indicating a shift is available. Instantaneously, qualified contractors from multiple agencies and freelancers could have the opportunity to pick up the shift. If staffing demand for a specific day is higher than unusual, technology would have the ability to adjust pay rates. With the right technology and partnerships, just in time technology, has the ability to improve productivity.

Vendor management systems, as they exist today, provide tremendous efficiencies within healthcare organizations. As they progress with innovations, they will alter how support organizations address the talent shortage with productivity improvements.


Christopher Mills

Christopher Mills
Christopher Mills is an enterprise workforce consultant for ShiftWise. He can be reached at Christopher.Mills (at) shiftwise (dot) com.

Christopher Mills

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