Save Millions Using GIS Technology for Strategic Workforce Planning

Karen Minich-Pourshadi, for HealthLeaders Media , April 23, 2012

"When I worked at Kaiser Permanente recruiting for 26 hospitals, we'd set up career fairs in highly concentrated nurse areas and walk out of these events with 25 new hires, because we knew exactly the type of candidates we wanted and where to find them," says Schutt. The ability to home in on the right type of candidate from the onset of the recruitment process has reduced the Stanford University Medical Center's recruitment advertising budget of more than $250,000 by 90%.

Moreover, the trend and analysis provided by GIS can show the migratory behavior associated with an organization's staff turnover. Used correctly the data can anticipate staff shifts due to factors such as pay or work schedule, and enable leaders to address issues before employees leave. This not only prevents problems with patient care continuity, Schutt says, but it also saves on hiring and training costs. Schutt estimates that getting ahead of the retention curve will save Stanford University Medical Center as much as $22.5 million in the next couple of years.

In addition to the recruiting and retention benefits of using GIS, the software can also be used for new hospital site selection, Schutt explains. "You want to understand the demographics of a particular geography before a hospital gets built, and you want to know if there will be [clinical staff] who will work there."

Certainly GIS software cannot help organizations decide which provider candidates will do the most for their patients or for the bottom line, but such a tool that can tell healthcare leaders where to look for those candidates and where future gaps in staff might occur. And when you consider that GIS software costs only a few thousand dollars and can be operated by one person who has another function within the organization—such as a human resources information systems specialist—this software offers quite a potential return on investment. It may not offer the marvelous magic of the movies, but GIS can work wonders for the healthcare workforce.

Karen Minich-Pourshadi is a Senior Editor with HealthLeaders Media.
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