Top Healthcare Staffing Trends for 2017

Take a look at some of this year’s most compelling opportunities in healthcare staffing.

“Public policy makers in the United States have struggled to find ways to restrain rapidly rising healthcare costs while providing opportunities for all persons to live better, healthier lives,” says the American College of Physicians (ACP). One of the keys, according to the ACP, is “reducing avoidable, ineffective or duplicate use of services,” and looking for new and innovative approaches to challenge decades-old solutions. One of the topics that comes to mind for me when reading this article is staffing.

Travel Nursing Trends

Did you know the top five largest travel nursing firms in the United States generated $1.7 billion in revenue in 2015? This doesn’t include other staffing services that hospitals rely on, such as per diem costs and locum tenens programs, which account for another $4.9 billion in revenue. The excessive staffing spend has an effect on the cost of patient care. Let me explain how.

Travel nurse staffing firms operate on what I call a “cost per provider basis.” They have a team of nurses who have agreed to travel to various facilities for short periods of time (typically 3 months), and while there, they are able to earn up to twice the hourly rate of a full-time permanent nurse. Agencies then charge the hospital an hourly rate to staff the facility with travelers at a 40% — or greater — markup. According to KPMG’s 2011 U.S. Hospital Nursing Labor Costs Study, 65% of hospitals use travelers. It’s easy to see how temporary nurse staffing in the United States is a $7 billion dollar industry.

Higher Costs to Staff Hospitals

Nursing is only a small variable in the healthcare staffing trends equation. There are a wide range of companies providing healthcare jobs like physicians, nurse practitioners, RNs, LPNs and occupational therapists to hospitals in need of additional providers. Highly specialized roles are also a major focus of staffing companies, and agencies are able to capitalize on specific skill sets where there is a local shortage. But the principle is the same. Pricing goes up depending on market availability, with ICU and emergency medicine being the most expensive.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2016 there were more than 3.1 million registered nurses professionally active in the United States, and 10% of those who work in hospitals are travelers.

So why does this all matter to you? Healthcare costs continue to rise, and broken staffing practices contribute to the problem. What I’m excited about for 2017 are the innovative healthcare staffing trends that are rising to the surface to meet the staffing challenges that hospitals face.


Rise of Crowdsourced Hiring

Employee referral programs are the No. 1 source for hire quality and hire volume. Not only do rising employee referral programs provide alternatives to outdated staffing models, but they are also the single highest source of employee retention. Another innovative tool for dealing with increased staffing spend? Social media. Social media is the fastest growing source of quality hires, growing 73% in the last four years.

Crowdsourced recruitment is probably the technology I’m most excited about to affect healthcare staffing trends and healthcare jobs. The crowdsourced model taps into communities of healthcare professionals, giving them opportunities to refer their friends and colleagues for positions employers need help filling.

Final Thoughts

New models are desperately needed to match the changes and demands of an ever-evolving industry. With crowdsourced recruitment providing an alternative to traditional agencies, I’m excited to watch the healthcare industry change by providing better patient care in a variety of settings while cutting recruitment costs in half.

I’m so excited about the new year and emerging solutions that are rising to meet the needs of the healthcare industry. I’m honored to be part of the staffing industry and the disruptive solutions that are cutting costs and allowing hospitals to provide better patient care and allow more candidates to find healthcare jobs.

Check out our predictions for 2018:

2018 healthcarestaffing trends

SOURCES: American College of Physicians | KPMG’s 2011 US Hospital Nursing Labor Costs Study | KFF Report | ERP Report

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