Nurses’ Week Series: How fast-growing home healthcare industry can compete for qualified nurses

This article is part of our Nurses' Week Byline Series which will speak to the important theme of Nurse Safety.

As healthcare professionals, it's no surprise to us that healthcare is quickly becoming the dominant employer in the U.S. economy. But you may be surprised to discover that the fastest growing industry in America is home healthcare. Not the fastest-growing industry in healthcare but the fastest growing industry in the whole economy.

In fact, the five fastest-growing industries in the country are all healthcare industries, and home healthcare comes in first, according to Employment Projections for 2014-2024 from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), released in December.

The BLS report states that the compound annual growth rate for home healthcare services from 2014 to 2024 would be about 5%, the highest among all healthcare industries. That translates into 760,400 new jobs.

Let's put this into context with overall projections. All told, by 2024 the healthcare industry will add 5.2 million jobs, including nearly 1.1 million registered nurses. This is great for nurses entering the profession. But we're also dealing with a nursing shortage, as older nurses retire and patient demand increases due to an improving economy, an aging population needed more healthcare, and about 20 million newly insured due to the Affordable Care Act.

Competing in the same candidate pool
The home healthcare industry is competing for qualified nurses and other healthcare professionals in the same candidate pool as every other healthcare industry, such as hospitals, outpatient centers and rehabilitation facilities. This supercharged environment of high demand and limited supply has been called a war for talent.

Home healthcare's needs are different, however, in two ways:
• Nursing experience: Nurses must be found who have experience in this particular field or receive training so they can be immediately productive. Unlike other healthcare industries, nurses in home healthcare often work alone, with more autonomy and less contact with physicians. This requires very capable, confident nurses who are comfortable working independently.

• The right mix: The rapid expansion of the home healthcare industry will require staffing flexibility, including the right mix of permanent and temporary staffing.

To recruit nurses and manage staffing needs, home healthcare agencies will need to employ advanced, technology-enabled sourcing processes and workforce solutions, including predictive analytics to accurately forecast future patient volume and staffing needs. They will need advanced, digitalized sourcing to enhance their recruiting efforts so they can find the healthcare professionals that they need. And to help create their own staffing supply chain, these agencies also could implement highly developed learning programs that are customized to train staff for the home healthcare industry.

For home healthcare agencies, succeeding in an increasingly competitive marketplace for quality nurses could be exacting. Many companies are relatively young and may not have the talent sourcing infrastructure of the established hospitals and medical centers with whom they are competing for healthcare professionals.

The home healthcare industry is integral to realizing the triple aim of healthcare reform –enhancing the patient experience, improving population health and containing costs. Ensuring proper staffing amid a war for talent is necessary to achieve that mission.

Learn more:
21st Century Sourcing: Solving the Healthcare Supply-Demand Crunch
How to Succeed in the War for Talent
Home Healthcare: Fastest-Growing Industry Faces Workforce Challenges

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