The Healthcare Talent Ecosystem: How Holistic Staffing Strengthens Hospital + Health System Finances, Operations and Goals

Healthcare staffing challenges are expected to persist, requiring leaders to devise strategies that meet short- and long-term talent needs. Rather than only deploying quick fixes — like contracting on-demand labor — some hospitals and health systems are approaching the issue from a “talent ecosystem” perspective.

 Becker’s Hospital Review recently spoke with Chase Farmer, chief commercial officer at Medical Solutions, to learn about the healthcare talent ecosystem framework, how this differs from traditional staffing approaches and the advantages it brings as organizations navigate workforce challenges.

‘Talent Ecosystem’: A Reimagined Approach to Talent Management

At its core, a healthcare talent ecosystem comprises services, strategy and technology that work together to provide hospitals and health systems with multiple channels of talent, better insights about current and future staffing needs and more control over costs.

  • Services refers primarily to the way talent is brought in, be it per diem, local talent, travelers, permanent hires, international or other service lines.
  • Strategy refers to how organizations fill staffing needs. “Organizations are looking to broaden their access but narrow their partnerships with staffing agencies,” Farmer said. “They want to align talent acquisition with broader initiatives or goals like reducing turnover and supporting management development.” The talent ecosystem, he explained, enables organizations to look beyond staffing alone and address the underlying problems that contribute to shortages in the first place.
  • Technology, in the context of a talent ecosystem, refers to the platforms healthcare organizations can use to centralize oversight. This includes oversight of talent acquisition and management, compliance protocols, requisition processes, cost management and contractual negotiations with suppliers. “Medical Solutions’ goal is to present this information in a way that empowers the organization to make decisions,” Farmer said.


Fundamental Differences in Old & New Strategies

Unlike traditional staffing approaches, a talent ecosystem is aligned with and invested in the long-term success of the organization. It serves as a supplier of labor and also as a strategic advisor.

For example, a healthcare talent ecosystem may leverage data on trends from previous years to predict staffing needs, propose candidates and make recommendations, based on extensive information about the clinical unit and/or service line that needs them. By contrast, a pure staffing approach — and related communication with staffing partners — is transactional, as it is geared only toward fulfilling short-term staffing needs.

An ecosystem focuses on adding healthcare talent, and more importantly, helps organizations understand why or if they need those resources in the first place. “We help fix the leaks in the internal talent pool so that next time, instead of an organization saying they need five nurses, they may only need two or three,” Farmer said. He noted the goal is to create an ideal balance of permanent and flexible staff that reduces burnout and clinician exodus.

Lastly, a key advantage of a talent ecosystem is the ability to reduce costs associated with numerous third-party partnerships. “If you are working with 10 different agencies, the tenth agency does not see value in the dollar that you spent with agencies one through nine,” Farmer said. “However, by centralizing through an ecosystem, we are looking at the total package of everything that a client is doing — creating efficiencies and cost savings.”

An Ecosystem Partnership Isn’t ‘Putting All Your Eggs in One Basket’

Farmer acknowledged the apprehension of some organizations in partnering with a single talent ecosystem rather than multiple, distinct entities. He said he understands the hesitancy and offered clarification.

“The ecosystem still acts as a vendor manager, like what you would see in a traditional managed services provider or vendor management system relationship,” Farmer said. “Medical Solutions has hundreds of staffing agency relationships, but we really focus on ensuring that we have the best relationships with those staffing agencies and the ones that can move the needle the furthest.”

Having a focused, dedicated strategic ecosystem partner also means there is only one contract involved and on entity to hold accountable if something goes awry. “Organizations tend to really appreciate that,” Farmer said.

Paving a New Path for Healthcare Talent Management

A talent ecosystem challenges the traditional ways of thinking about healthcare talent management. It enables organizations to shift from reactive, transactional and fragmented approaches to proactive, integrated and holistic approaches with operational and financial benefits. Importantly, the ecosystem framework can support the near- and long-term staffing needs and challenges that healthcare leaders expect for the foreseeable future.

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars