Are we thinking about the talent shortage all wrong?

Matthew Tant, CEO, Relode - Print  | 

As healthcare leaders, we spend a lot of our time considering the nursing and physician shortages and brainstorming to try to solve it.

The fact is there simply aren’t enough nurses to fill the number of open jobs. As we’re seeing the demand for healthcare professionals rise, we’re also seeing nurses leaving the workforce faster than we can train and hire new nurses.

We need a better solution than robbing from each other in the shrinking pool or just trying to hire more nurses and physicians and hoping for the best.

There have been some incredible innovations in technology in the last several years. We need to be thinking about ways these innovations can help us solve the nursing shortage, and how we can apply the same out-of-the-box thinking to the staffing industry.

Traditional vs. New Models

Right now the healthcare recruiting industry is in a rut. In the traditional model, hospitals rely on agencies who are made up of recruiters who sit on the phone all day. However, these recruiters run into the same issues.

I’d like to point to the example of Marriott vs. AirBnb. Marriott was founded in 1927. As of 2018, they have over 6,500 properties spread across 27 countries. Conversely, AirBnB, which was founded in 2008, has 4 million properties listed in 191 countries, and over 300 million guests. What’s most impressive is that AirBnB doesn’t own a single property, and yet the company’s valuation has skyrocketed past Marriott in less than 10 years.

Similarly, when we have a finite amount of people at a static location, there will always be a need for more people and we can’t train and hire them fast enough for the ensuing demand.

AirBnb puts the power in the hands of users and hosts, allowing them to manage their own time and locations. Similarly, facilities should allow nurses to manage their own time and schedules who may be gainfully employed elsewhere or perhaps even retired. Rather than having one group of nurses at one facility, allow nurses to cover multiple shifts in multiple locations across the city and multiple employers.

Potential Barriers

One of the perceived barriers to this solution is credentialing. The process can be expensive, time consuming, and could prevent nurses from being able to immediately begin practicing. However, new credentialing methods that use blockchain technology are helping to transform the credentialing process, not only by making it faster, but will also improve information quality and timeliness at a lower cost.

Dividing up our resources will make nursing skills available to those who need it, and will allow the industry to help more patients and change more lives. This is how we solve the nursing shortage: with existing resources, technology and innovation.
However, we cannot only rely on staffing innovations to make significant changes to the nursing and healthcare industry. We need a radical shift in the tools we use and the methods we employ.

The Rise of Crowdsourcing

One of the most exciting innovations in the past few years in the staffing industry is crowdsourcing. With crowdsourcing, facilities are able to rely not on a recruiter, but instead can outsource their hiring needs to those who know the industry best. With crowdsourcing, anyone is able to recommend a nurse or doctor to a position, and it’s likely that those candidates will be more qualified and more likely to stay in their positions after they are hired.

This change will also move the closed networks of recruiters who are only able to reach a certain number of candidates at certain hours to more open networks. With crowdsourcing, facilities would have access to an infinite number of candidates who will enter the system at all hours of the day.

Essentially, a crowdsourced solution will put hiring in the hands of those who know candidates best: qualified healthcare professionals. It’s a more innovative approach that uses the new technologies and networks we’ve developed to create a more sustainable, lasting solution than tired hiring practices.

Take the recent example of Rover, a crowdsourced pet sitting business that just raised $155 million in their recent financing round. Beyond anything, this tells us that consumers are ready for crowdsourced solutions, and when we put out resources into these kinds of innovations, we’ll see a positive response.

Leaders in the healthcare industry should be focusing not just on filling open positions, we should be forward thinkers who proactively develop the new solutions needed to solve the nursing shortage.


Matthew Tant is a healthcare staffing industry veteran who has worked every facet of the business, from recruiter to CEO. In 2010 he founded a healthcare care technology staffing firm which became one of the fastest growing healthcare staffing firms in the U.S. In 2015, he launched Relode, a crowdsourced recruiting platform that is on a mission to create a new standard of value, service, and innovation.

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