With hospital operating margins down 28%, identifying ways to cut costs and improve processes is more important than ever. Every department is working with a limited budget, so finding ways to significantly reduce costs and inefficiencies is critical. A major step in the right direction would be to move away from outdated and redundant processes. Giving staff the tools they need to streamline their operations so they can be as productive as possible is a major opportunity for health systems. Technology allows staff to spend less time on routine tasks and reallocate their efforts to better serve their teams, patients and from an HR standpoint, candidates; all of which support an organization’s bottom line.
Investing in human capital technology used to be an afterthought
Human capital is the stock of knowledge, skills, experience, and personality attributes people possess to perform jobs that deliver economic value. Organizations that invest in their people so that they can execute at their highest level tend to outperform organizations that don’t. Technology can greatly contribute to people’s performance and their organization’s goals by removing bottlenecks and enabling individuals to thrive in their roles and field of expertise.
Leaders in the healthcare industry know that technology can significantly improve health facilities’ operations, both from an organizational standpoint and on the patient-care side, but haven’t necessarily been quick to invest in it in the past. Outside of patient-centric and physician-focused hardware and software, investing in technology to streamline operational inefficiencies and support productivity among staff has often been an afterthought. This is understandable to an extent - physicians and patient procedures are what drive revenue for organizations. What most health facilities miss is that by investing in technology that creates efficiencies, reduces costs, attracts and supports the best people, they can increase their margins with more flexibility in their budgets to reallocate resources that can improve patient care.
Investing in technology outside of health systems’ core revenue drivers is seen as risky. No leader wants to make a decision that costs their organization more money without driving the anticipated results. There’s a lingering belief that since health system operational functions have “worked” without technology for decades, investing in something new isn’t critical. The truth is, operating with archaic workflows creates process bottlenecks that cost health systems serious dollars. This eats away at their margins and limits their ability to invest in other initiatives, their people, and in turn, patient care. That’s why today, health systems that opt to pass on investing in human capital technology that attracts the best people and helps staff perform at their best is the real risk. In order for health care facilities to compete and thrive in today’s market, they need the tools to free up and reallocate resources to ensure they’re delivering the best patient experience while maintaining a financially sound organization.
Using technology to improve productivity and outcomes
Health system recruiters spend roughly 25% of their time sourcing candidates. The rest of their time goes to understanding staffing needs within each department, delivering their findings to marketing for job promotions, and coordinating interviews based on the flow of applications they receive. Very little time is actually spent interacting with candidates, outside of scheduling an interview with each hiring manager and discussing basic onboarding requirements.
By adopting new technology, recruiters could free up more than a full day of their week, allowing them to spend more time screening candidates and reduce the load on hiring managers during interviews so they can get back to supporting their staff and patients. Recruiters would also be better equipped to strategize with marketing on creating more targeted campaigns for open roles and be able to work with candidates in a more efficient way (collecting any necessary documentation or coordinating appointments for missing items). From a human capital perspective, technology greatly reduces redundancy and expedites the time it takes to fill open jobs effectively. This leads to better patient outcomes and faster-turned beds, ultimately increasing revenue for the organization.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced health systems to review all operations and cost-saving measures due to the dramatic decrease in revenue driven by the cancellation of elective procedures and fewer patient cases being seen network-wide. Due to this impact, health systems are now examining where technology investments can help decrease overhead and improve efficiencies.
Tactics and results are being transformed with human capital technology
With human capital accounting for roughly 35-50% of health systems’ operating costs, organizations are turning to technology to improve process flows and reduce unnecessary spending. One of the largest health systems in the country recently adopted Hallmark Health Care Solutions’ Einstein II (a scheduling and deployment technology) to ensure all of their facilities have adequate staffing coverage. This technology allows them to compare organizational needs between departments and deploy available staff to more critical openings. This level of transparency within staffing functions enables significant cost savings with smarter resource allocation and better patient outcomes.
The health systems that are embracing these kinds of human capital technology are realizing greater cost savings and process efficiencies. Vivian Health, a marketplace that helps healthcare employers find and hire the right candidates quickly, is one of them. Its targeted sourcing of highly qualified, actively-seeking healthcare professionals enables facilities to expedite hiring for critical positions, cutting the hiring timeline from up to three months to approximately two weeks. The time saved from typical sourcing is reinvested in deeper candidate engagement, ensuring cultural fit on top of the required skills and experience. This additional space for “vetting” supports talent retention and ensures the right person for the role is hired (replacing talent is expensive). This improves patients’ experiences with the best possible care and pays dividends for hospitals and health facilities’ bottom lines.
The visibility health system brands have amassed through Vivian’s sophisticated online marketing has expanded the reach of their job postings to both local and national audiences, helping them get in front of the best candidates. Coupled with other efficient recruiting tools like real-time candidate messaging and real-time market trends around compensation and employment models, health systems are able to better position their jobs, attract candidates they couldn’t reach before, and speed up their interview processes to build a scalable hiring engine. Cost reductions of 25% have been achieved by substituting travel agency contracts with resource pool contracts. The model for hiring permanent staff has also saved significant costs compared to RPO and head-hunter options.
The future of healthcare talent recruitment and retention for health systems
Health systems that do not embrace technology for human capital functions face an over-reliance on agency support and dwindling ability to compete with the organizations that do adopt new solutions. Moreover, synergies between staffing firms and health facilities are not truly aligned; agencies are businesses focused on increasing their profits through the increase of health systems’ spend. This leads to exhausting labor budgets, lower operating margins for facilities, and little control over the staff caring for their patient population.
By investing in the right technology, health systems can realize significant cost savings related to normal human capital demand and consumption. Sophisticated digital marketing can target and attract candidates from every region across the country at scale, exposing health system brands and their job openings to the widest, most relevant audience. Qualified and interested healthcare professionals are made aware of job opportunities they never knew existed. These marketing efforts leverage machine learning based on candidate behavior, enabling health systems to obtain the right talent at the right time and on-demand so they can meet patient needs.
Cutting down the time it takes to source and hire candidates allows HR professionals to focus on retention and employee engagement efforts. This leads to better patient experiences and care since nurses and clinicians are more supported in their roles. In order to thrive throughout the current COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, health systems must leverage technology to reduce costs, increase productivity and efficiency, and provide real-time, actionable data to influence internal policies. Gone are the days of technology only benefiting the revenue-producing functions of a health system. Technology must be a part of every facet of an organization to ensure maximum efficiency, faster processes, and relief to operating costs.