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In early June 2022, Staffing Industry Analytics (SIA) reported how an 85% increase in healthcare temporary staffing led to $39.8 billion in expenses for 2021. In response to increased demand for skilled workers, use of contingent labor, steep hourly wages, and anticipated healthcare shortages well into 2025, many healthcare institutions are turning to internally operating their own contingent staffing programs.

 

An 85% increase in healthcare temporary staffing led to $39.8 billion in expenses for 2021.

Shifting staffing efforts into internally operated processes offers several competitive advantages to healthcare systems, as well as traveling workers. Turning to an in-house sourcing system is appealing to many organizations due to the ability to manage staffing, mitigate costs, and avert shortages. As enticing as these factors are, in-house staffing models face several challenges that can make or break internal staffing efforts if overlooked.

Fortunately, obstacles in-house staffing models face can be facilitated with proper technology to ease the transition and set healthcare systems up for long term success.

What is the In-House Staffing Model?

The in-house staffing model means that in lieu of relying on service providers to fill staffing needs, healthcare organizations are designing their own travel programs and recruitment efforts to deploy workers to their own affiliated hospitals in need of clinicians.

For example, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) launched its own in-house staffing model in late 2021. With 40 facilities scattered throughout 3 states, UPMC’s internal staffing agency will send traveling staff to where needs are greatest within their own network of healthcare systems.

This strategic approach is powerful not only in saving costs and managing all steps of the recruitment process, but it provides a mechanism for facilities to gain reliable employees for the long-term – a main objective of UPMC’s initiative to turn in-house.

Many healthcare systems shifting to in-house models offer beneficial wages that are both sustainable to the institution and still appealing to caregivers. UPMC is also offering travel stipends, benefits, and in some cases, tuition reimbursements. Furthermore, such institutions are also rewarding their own permanent staff to encourage morale and retain their long-term workers, rather than losing them to travel opportunities.

As tempting as it is to jump on the in-house trend, it’s essential to acknowledge the many challenges internally operated staffing agencies face in the healthcare industry, along with solutions to mitigate these obstacles.

In-house Staffing Benefits for Healthcare Organizations

1. Reduced Costs

The onset of the pandemic saw a large demand for healthcare workers, with shortages stemming from several causes including retirement, burnout, and population shifts. This led to exorbitant rates for clinicians amounting to almost three times pre-pandemic rates in certain cases. In-house staffing agencies can experience reduced labor expenses and take action in mitigating costs. For example, UPMC claimed that through their in-house staffing initiative, they were able to hire two of their own clinicians for the price of a single contracted candidate.

2. Pool of Staff

In-house staffing models have the benefit of building a pool of staff that serve as a safety net in unexpected events or addressing shortage fluctuations. Having a retainment of skilled talent means that in the case of future pandemics, crises, or seasonal fluctuations of hospital staff, institutions are prepared to allocate and deploy staff on hand to avert shortages. Additionally, with clinicians on hand, there is less time to wait on screening, credentialing, and training when transitioning from flotation locations.

3. Recruit, Retain, and Re-Capture

Proper recruitment is one of the most difficult factors healthcare organizations face. The ability to recruit quality candidates and subsequently retain skilled workers is a major competitive advantage for internal staffing programs. Many factors contribute to employee retention and by empowering employees with work flexibility to pursue travel opportunities, career growth, and short-term commitments, organizations can enable greater retention. Travel employees can explore several niches professionally and geographically that suit them, which can potentially convert staff into long-term employees for your organization. Additionally, re-capturing previous employees who left in favor of travel opportunities is a competitive opportunity in-house staffing agencies can leverage.

4. Values & Dedication

Travel staff hired internally understand company values, practices, and culture. By incorporating staff into travel programs, you’ll have a workforce that has greater dedication and loyalty to your organization than external, temporary staff might exhibit.

5. Healthcare Consistency

With staff frequenting different locations, there is opportunity for travel caregivers to identify areas that healthcare systems fall short in comparison to other locations. This allows for greater improvement and consistency between locations, boosting your organization’s brand reputation.

Benefits to Healthcare Employees

Work Flexibility

Greater work flexibility is an appealing factor when it comes to travel nursing and related healthcare professions. The ability to have shorter commitments and a change of scenery provides travel workers the opportunity to explore regions and clinical positions they may better thrive in.

Competitive Pay

The greatest component to travel nursing are competitive wages. Travel staff benefit with hourly wages reflecting travel demand and efforts, as well as stipends and benefits. Furthermore, institutions turning to in-house staffing models are rewarding permanent staff for remaining in permanent positions rather than opting to travel.

Professional & Career Advancement

Internally managed travel programs offer professional advantages to travel workers by enabling career growth and allowing workers to retain their seniority within their organization. Traveling to different locations gives the traveling workforce opportunities to network and build professional connections. 

Challenges in Internal Staffing & VMS Solutions

Internally operated staffing programs provide organizations with numerous competitive advantages. Without a proper contingent workforce program foundation set in place, many facilities run the risk of in-house staffing programs deterioriating quickly. With expert guidance and a well-crafted strategy, healthcare organizations can avoid the common challenges in-house operations face which include:

 

  • Implementing improper technology
  • Balancing pay between travel workers and permanent employees
  • Greater coverage gaps created for traveling opportunities
  • Monitoring demand and anticipating future needs
  • Seamlessly transitioning contingent staff into healthcare facilities
  • Crafting an improper strategy unique to your organization

Organizations may consider implementing vendor management systems (VMS) to centralize siloed data and spreadsheets into a single location. This allows for quick access to records, documentation, and data between departments. 

For Human Resources and hiring managers, a VMS facilitates a seamless requisition cycle in which all steps of the recruitment process can be completed through a single platform. This includes automating requisitions, matching candidates, interviewing, onboarding and credentialing, as well as time management and consolidated billing. Automated solutions mean quicker fill rates and maximized productivity.

Additionally, a VMS empowers in-house staffing programs by alleviating unnecessary spend. This is because a VMS provides transparent oversight into an organization’s spend, but also visibility into actual market rates that inform your organization on real-time rates for specific occupations. Furthermore, a VMS with geographical capabilities, such as StaffBot’s rate intelligence tools, will ensure you mitigate costs based on market rates by region – an important factor as many healthcare organizations have facilities scattered throughout multiple regions.

A powerful way to overcome pay discrepancies is the ability to see market rate analytics. Vendor management systems are equipped to analyze geographical market rate to help organizations determine fair, informed wages. With visibility into real-time rates for specific healthcare positions, your organization can seize the opportunity to mitigate and save immense costs. In fact, according to the SIA, 76% of companies reported experiencing cost reductions and increased overall savings through the use of a VMS.

A VMS can help minimize these risks by providing oversight into staffing needs and individual staff history. Detailed reporting allows organizations to identify current gaps and determine potential upcoming gaps that help healthcare facilities better anticipate needs and areas of low capacity.
Access to AI-powered reporting can help provide insight into spotting trends to understand demand. The ability of VMS technology to report on customizable factors that provide oversight into trends at varying levels of each hospital is imperative in strategizing recruitment and averting workforce shortages. Ensure the VMS technology has capabilities to not only create custom reports, but also ad-hoc reporting, templated reports, and out-of-box reporting.
VMS solutions help alleviate inconsistent transitions between travel assignments by providing tools to standardize and remind employers and employees of necessary trainings required. A VMS enables easy communication between facilities, departments, employers, and employees allowing for quick, easy interactions, as well as notifying necessary parties of required trainings, expiring documentation, or any other messages required for travel.
Find a provider that not only seamlessly implements technology, but acts as a consultant in the beginning stages, throughout implementation, and long after integration. For example, StaffBot consults and implements a strategic workflow in regards to the VMS solutions for organizations, but also partners you with our service provider affiliates to ensure successful coaching on how to operate internal recruitment with the technology. Partner with a provider who knows how to maximize your efforts to successfully run and manage internal operations.

Conclusions

The use of contingent workforce is a trend expected to rise, with 83% of global executives reporting an increased use of contingent workforce in companies. This sentiment is particularly applicable to the healthcare workforce, an industry that has suffered severe shortages and greater reliance on contingent labor.

Transitioning staffing operations into internally managed processes offers several competitive advantages, however many organizations fail to address the challenges associated with in-house staffing, resulting in wasted efforts, resources, and time. With proper technology and guidance, in-house staffing models have the potential to thrive and improve return on investment, as well as recruit, retain, and re-capture employees to create a sustainable workforce ready to address current and future shortages, crises, or future pandemics.

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