Hospitals Are Quick to Gobble Up Talent

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media , July 22, 2011

So per diem outsourcing may have seen its best days. Hospitals are getting smart about hiring the clinical help they need and most of all, they’re getting more data and using that data to more effectively schedule when they need that talent. They’re developing ways to manage their staffing needs that don’t depend on quick fixes—i.e. their people identify the shortage on the days that it occurs. They’re also identifying retirees who want to work just a little, and are incorporating them into their staffing plans as never before.

Alexander knows he and his colleagues must get smarter too. They have to work at lowering their prices and helping with solutions, not just offering talent on short notice at exorbitant rates—something for which the temporary staffing industry overall in healthcare is infamous.

“The answer for us is also the answer for the hospital,” he says. “We're not going to create a huge number of new nurses and hospitals have always had some portion of the nursing staff as per diem. But that's very expensive, to hire someone for 20% more than working full time.”

Alexander maintains this is a temporary respite from the expected dramatic return of the physician and nurse shortage, not to mention other allied clinical arts.

He may be right. Neither staffing firms nor hospitals can effectively fight trends that emerge from the realities of the broader economy. As the stock market continues to rebound and as clinical talent continues to age, many of those who stayed longer than they intended will melt back into the retired ranks. 

The message: Don’t get too comfortable.


Philip Betbeze is senior leadership editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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