Workforce Technology vs. the Ongoing Labor Crisis: Time to Change the Status Quo

Although the workforce crisis has challenged health systems for years, recent statistics are sobering. Two in five nurses are thinking about leaving healthcare over the next two years and four million nurses are expected to retire by 2030.

At the same time, the population is aging; by 2050, 88.5 million Americans will be 65 and older, which will increase the demand for care.

Unless hospitals and health systems find innovative ways to address the nursing shortage, they will find it difficult to care for patients in their communities. During a September webinar hosted by Becker's Hospital Review and sponsored by CareRev, two healthcare leaders discussed how technology can improve employee retention by providing more flexible schedules and working conditions for nurses:

  • Teresa M. Lux, president, Froedtert Menomonee Falls (Wis.) Hospital, and chief operating officer, Froedtert Menomonee Falls Hospital and Froedtert West Bend (Wis.) Hospital
  • Will Patterson, co-founder and CEO, CareRev

Four key takeaways were: 

1.  It's time to radically redesign care models. "Delivering nursing care differently means shifting away from industrial age thinking, which is where most of our scheduling and staffing practices originated," Ms. Lux said. To increase flexibility for nurses, progressive health systems are looking at shift sharing, seasonal shifts, on-demand staffing and the option to work in various clinical areas. "The younger generation expects flexibility on their own terms — it's how they want to live. A huge priority for healthcare systems is meeting that generation where it is," Mr. Patterson said.

2. The culture is often more important than pay. Although bonuses are nice, they are a temporary fix. A better solution is to reevaluate the support and educational opportunities provided to nurses. "Cross training is a big thing that people on the CareRev platform want," Mr. Patterson said. "This increases their skill set and enables them to work in a variety of care environments. That's good for patients, and learning keeps nurses from burning out." 

Nurses also appreciate having a tool to easily sign up for shifts in different care settings. This allows them to balance intense bedside nursing work with clinics or other non-traditional settings. "CareRev nurses rate us after every shift. It's an excellent tool that tells us whether we are creating the kind of environment that people want to come back to. We want them to feel they are part of the team, even if they don't work on-site every day," Ms. Lux said. 

3.  Integrated workforce technology solutions feel seamless to users, which helps reduce burnout. CareRev plugs into existing systems and processes at hospitals and health systems. "We offer a centralized place for recruiting, onboarding and scheduling," Mr. Patterson said. Many organizations have two-week, on-site onboarding processes optimized for full-time employees or travelers. But this approach isn't practical for employees who only want to work six shifts a month or for individuals who have trouble finding childcare. With CareRev, health systems can streamline and digitize orientation, reducing on-site days to as few as one. 

4. CareRev gives healthcare organizations more control and gives nurses greater flexibility. Historically, hospitals and health systems paid huge margins to staffing agencies for contract workers and travelers. "With CareRev, organizations have an available pool of people that flexes up and down with demand all year long, without bringing in people from other cities," Mr. Patterson said. 

SmartRates — CareRev's machine learning and AI platform — helps organizations set pay rates based on market data so they get the biggest ROI on each shift. "Prices flex up and down in the market," Ms. Lux said. "Now we can respond to that, while agencies are all over the map in terms of escalation." CareRev also uses machine learning to identify triggers that contribute to employee churn, such as cancelling a shift on short notice with no prior communication. 

"Giving nurses control over where, when and how they work is critical to future staffing. With CareRev, we've been able to take a new approach that will sustain us long-term. We saw an immediate response with staff at the bedside and it's provided us with monetary savings, as well," Ms. Lux said.

To download CareRev’s whitepaper: Staffing operations are stressful enough — don't overcomplicate it. Learn how nurse leaders are simplifying staffing using this technology platform, click here.

To register for upcoming webinars, click here.

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