Leveraging technology to increase retention: Is it a nursing shortage or a distribution problem?

Nurse retention is a serious challenge for hospitals and health systems. Finding innovative solutions is a must at a time when nurses increasingly value flexibility while organizations struggle to keep costs down.

This was a major theme during a panel discussion at Becker's 14th Annual Meeting, led by Susan Pasley, BSN, RN, Chief Nursing Officer at CareRev, and featuring three Community Health System leaders:

  • John Stabbe, Director, Flex Staffing
  • Hannah Patch, Manager, Integrated Flex Staffing Resources
  • Suzie Rattana, Supervisor, Supplemental Staffing

Four key takeaways from the session:

  1. Leveraging technology to optimize workforce management and increase efficiency. Organizations often struggle with shifts that become vacant on short notice, causing a rush to fill them, and with shifts that need to be filled quickly because of a service line expansion.

    "With CareRev, we can post 500 shifts in under five minutes," Ms. Patch said. "We have another technology that reaches out to people via text for open shifts. This has allowed us to optimize our workflows internally and work more efficiently."

  2. CareRev provides a flexible workforce platform that can fill staffing gaps and provide additional support. During COVID-19, gig staffing emerged as a viable alternative to full-time, part-time and per-diem staffing. It allows nurses with a high need for flexibility to pick shifts and organizations to tap into a pool of trained professionals in times of high patient demand.

    "We were not able to fill the needs with our typical staffing model," Mr. Stabbe said. "Traveling nurses were an option, but extremely expensive, so we began researching gig staffing and found CareRev. Within a year, we have 300 gig-style workers — it's amazing."

  3. CareRev helps create a more resilient workforce by offering flexibility and meeting the needs of nurses and caregivers. The technology works such that phone calls, texts messages or other notification advertising available shifts are unnecessary. Instead, nurses go to the platform and proactively search and pick shifts that suit their schedule and desire to work.

    "The ability to pick up shifts, have them added on their calendar and be done with it integrates with nurses' lifestyles," Ms. Pasley said. "They do everything with their phones. It provides the flexibility they need and helps prevent burnout."

  4. CareRev's rates are competitive and can help reduce costs, compared to other staffing options. The pay rates of CareRev nurses are typically around 5% to 10% lower than the rates of travel nurses. When adjusted for absence of health benefits, 401k and other costs associated with full-time staff, they average about the same.

    "We have translated our internal costs for overtime or premium pay, and reduced travel nurse FTE [by using] CareRev," Mr. Stabbe said. "Their rates are significantly lower than a travel nurse's rates."

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