Healthcare staffing is broken. I have worked in the industry for nearly 20 years, connecting healthcare facilities in need of workers with clinicians looking for work. I’ve spent most of those years at traditional staffing agencies, becoming acutely aware of a growing problem: The staffing status quo is affecting patient care.

That’s because the traditional approach is no match for the collision of challenges hitting healthcare facilities, including an aging population, chronic staffing shortages and new diseases — and the financial pressures they’re causing. To meet these challenges, healthcare facilities need to adopt technologies that streamline their recruitment and hiring processes.

For health systems and hospitals, staffing is a dreaded necessity. With workforce needs constantly in flux due to unpredictable spikes in disease or shifts in demand, facilities frequently turn to staffing agencies to find freelance, temporary and part-time workers. The process can be slow — and has been slow to modernize. As sectors like transportation and hospitality have gone digital, enabling us to easily book accommodations and call taxis through apps like Airbnb and Uber, healthcare staffing has largely remained analog.

That means that for most health systems, recruiting and hiring new staff is slower and more burdensome — and therefore more expensive — than it needs to be. Every year, hospitals spend hundreds of millions of dollars on labor and staffing. They can’t afford those losses, especially now — this year, due to fallout from the pandemic, more than half expect negative margins, with collective losses in the billions.

As health systems do whatever they can to flip those numbers and continue serving their patients, new staffing technologies — digital marketplaces that connect healthcare facilities with high quality clinicians  more efficiently and effectively — have to be part of their plan.

With traditional agencies and recruiters at the helm, the process from job posting to contract signing can be cumbersome. Without a free flow of information — clinicians sometimes can’t even see all of the positions available to them — it’s hard for job seekers to find roles that might fit. Without the convenience of one-click applications, they spend time producing the same background and credentials multiple times.

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Digital staffing marketplaces like Nomad Health, the one I work for, do every step faster. They vet applicants ahead of time, speeding up the hiring process. They handle all the paperwork with data stored in the cloud, saving time for health systems and clinicians. And they use features like machine learning recommendations and instant job match alerts to find qualified candidates and encourage them to apply, sourcing more candidates more quickly.

Far from undermining recruitment with technology and speed, these marketplaces make it even better. By eliminating the middleman, digital staffing marketplaces foster more transparency — which helps ensure that health systems and clinicians alike are finding the right fit.

These marketplaces facilitate a more comprehensive flow of information between health systems and clinicians. Open communication ensures that both parties have the same expectations around bill rates, pay rates and assignment requirements — information that recruiters sometimes withhold from candidates to steer them toward the job with the highest recruiter commission. Everyone can see more information at once, making it easier to match candidates’ needs and skill sets to opportunities.

When clinicians are finding the best jobs for them, health systems get the most willing candidates — workers who are more likely to meet the hospital’s exact needs and stick around for the term of their contract. Combined with the speed of the digital marketplace process, this transparency saves hospital systems money they would otherwise lose in slow-to-fill positions, less-than-ideal hires and turnover.

Plus, staffing marketplaces eliminate recruiter commissions, which are yet another unnecessary cost health systems who use traditional agencies have to shoulder.

Industries adopt modern technologies because they can make life easier and business better. Healthcare is no exception. By integrating digital staffing platforms into their recruitment and hiring processes, health systems can contract with quality candidates faster and find the right people for their positions. They can fill the roles they need to manage volatile environments and steadily growing shortages — all while lessening the pressure these challenges put on their margins.

Healthcare systems rely on a strong, sustainable workforce to stay afloat so they can continue to serve patients. Digital staffing platforms are the way to build it.

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