A male nurse shows a female nurse a nursing jobs app on his phone.

More than three years have passed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and our nation’s healthcare workforce is still trying to recover. Never before have hospitals, health systems, and post-acute facilities faced a national staffing emergency of this magnitude. So, what are healthcare executives doing about it?

ShiftMed® surveyed more than 100 healthcare executives across the United States, from CEOs and COOs to CNOs and nursing directors, to see what factors currently influence their hospital staffing decisions.

The survey found that healthcare facilities grappling with workforce shortages seek alternative approaches to enhance recruitment and retention rates as they explore unique solutions to bridge staffing gaps without financial strain.

Travel Nursing Expense

We discovered that most healthcare facilities rely on their travel nursing budgets to fill staffing gaps. Of the healthcare executives we surveyed, 66% believed travel nurses are too expensive to train and maintain, while 45% said travel nurses disrupt company culture and internal staff.

In 2019, hospitals spent a median of 4.7% of their total nurse labor expense on contract travel nurses, according to the American Hospital Association. That number jumped to 38.6% in early 2022, with some facilities reporting their travel nursing costs accounted for more than 50% of their nursing labor expense.

Alternative Healthcare Staffing Models

As traditional staffing methods, such as internal hiring and recruitment agencies, are no longer effective in meeting adequate staffing ratios, healthcare executives are exploring alternative staffing models like gap shift management that combine internal and external labor to fill scheduling gaps without compromising their bottom lines.

98% of healthcare executives are using or considering at least one of the following alternative staffing models: a workforce management marketplace, internal labor pool/internal labor staffing or third-party staffing agency.

Local On-Demand Healthcare Staffing Solutions

Over the past few years, local on-demand solutions in healthcare staffing have grown by leaps and bounds. These solutions take a flexible, technology-driven approach that allows healthcare facilities to fill scheduling gaps quickly and efficiently, often in real-time or on short notice.

On-demand solutions typically comprise a digital platform and mobile application. These platforms serve as workforce marketplaces where healthcare facilities can post their staffing needs, and healthcare professionals can search for available shifts via a nursing jobs mobile app.

Benefits of on-demand healthcare staffing solutions include:

  • Flexibility to Scale: Healthcare facilities can scale their workforce up or down in response to changing patient volumes, seasonal demands, or unexpected events (e.g., flu outbreaks).

  • Real-time Matching: Many on-demand platforms use advanced algorithms and artificial intelligence to match specific requirements of healthcare facilities with the skills and availability of healthcare professionals.

  • Credentialing and Verification: Many on-demand platforms have built-in credentialing and verification processes to ensure that healthcare professionals meet licensing, certification, and competency requirements.

  • Data Insights: On-demand platforms often provide analytics and reporting features that allow healthcare organizations to track staffing trends, usage platforms, and costs, enabling data-driven decision-making.

  • Reduced Administrative Burden: On-demand solutions often automate administrative tasks associated with staffing, such as scheduling, payroll, and invoicing.

77% of healthcare executives that use, or are considering, an on-demand staffing solution are interested in full-time recruitment technology, and 70% are interested in credentialing and onboarding technology.

Multi-faceted On-Demand Workforce Strategies

By implementing a dynamic combination of internal labor pools, on-demand healthcare staff, and cutting-edge workforce management platforms, healthcare facilities can achieve the following:

  • Resilience in Staffing: A multi-faceted approach helps ensure facilities are better equipped to handle sudden changes in staffing needs and provide continuity of care.

  • Optimized Resource Allocation: A multi-faceted approach that blends internal and external labor pools allows for an efficient allocation of resources and avoids overburdening the core workforce.

  • Better Patient Care: A multi-faceted approach helps maintain adequate staffing ratios in healthcare, enabling facilities to meet regulatory requirements and elevate care quality.

  • Significant Labor Savings: A multi-faceted approach helps streamline recruitment and scheduling efforts, minimizing administrative overhead and reducing procurement costs.

Education Technology in Healthcare Workforce Solutions

Education technology (EdTech) can play a significant role in helping healthcare facilities enhance their recruitment and retention efforts, especially in concert with wage-based benefits. Top talent understands that learning and development are critical to career success.

In 2021, Amazon commissioned Gallup to conduct the most comprehensive study on upskilling to date. The American Upskilling Study: Empowering Workers for the Jobs of Tomorrow found that upskilling is becoming a sought-after employee benefit and a powerful attraction for employers amid the current labor shortage.

An experienced nurse is training new nurses in a hospital room. Text overlay says that 48% of American workers would switch to a new job if offered skills training opportunities, and 65% of American workers believe employer-provided upskilling is very important when evaluating a potential new job.

Healthcare facilities can provide education and training opportunities to staff through a structured, comprehensive approach that considers the needs and goals of the organization and its nurses. Examples of such options include:

  • Personalized Learning Paths: Facilities can use EdTech to create customized employee learning paths based on their career goals and aspirations. By taking an individualized approach, nurses feel valued, increasing their loyalty to the organization.

  • Career Advancement Opportunities: Facilities can provide access to online degree programs or certifications that help nurses advance their careers. Assisting employees in achieving their career goals within the organization is a win-win for everyone.

  • Flexible Learning Options: Facilities can use on-demand courses and microlearning modules to upskill nurses seeking a work-life balance. Being able to access learning opportunities on their terms, nurses have no reason not to want to boost their skills.

41% of healthcare executives that use, or are considering, an on-demand staffing solution were interested in education technology.

Flexible Work Options for Nurses

Part-time job searches have rebounded from the COVID-19 pandemic, while full-time job searches continue to lag. This shift in job-seeking behavior presents a unique opportunity for healthcare facilities to adapt and thrive by embracing flexible work opportunities for nurses. After all, nurse burnout is one of the most pressing concerns in healthcare today.

By embracing flexible work arrangements, healthcare facilities can create a more sustainable and supportive work environment by:

1. Protecting Full-Time Staff: Providing flexible work opportunities helps distribute the workload evenly among nursing staff, putting less strain on full-time nurses.

2. Enhancing Continuity of Care: With a flex pool of nurses to draw from, facilities can better manage scheduling gaps and unexpected absences, ensuring patients receive consistent, uninterrupted care.

3. Attracting and Retaining Talent: Flexible work options are highly desirable to many nurses, especially those with family or continuing education commitments.

4. Adapting to Changing Circumstances: Flexible staffing arrangements allow healthcare facilities to quickly respond to fluctuating patient needs, seasonal variations, and unforeseen challenges.

5. Cost-Effective Solution: Flexible staffing models can help control labor costs by aligning staffing levels with patient demand, resulting in financial stability and high-quality care standards.

67% of healthcare executives agreed that nurses should have access to flexible work options that align with their schedules.

Empowering the Future of Healthcare Staffing

Acute and post-acute healthcare facilities that want to unlock their staffing success will benefit on multiple fronts by making ShiftMed their healthcare staffing partner.

Top Nursing Jobs App

We understand the unique challenges and regulations of the healthcare industry and have a fast-growing network of more than 350,000 W-2 healthcare professionals ready to work on demand.

Credentialed CNAs, LPNs, and RNs use our nursing jobs app to claim shifts at healthcare facilities within their communities. The app gives them complete control over their work schedule, allowing them to work when, where, and how often they want.

Nurse Recruitment

Nurses choose to work with ShiftMed because we’re not just about filling shifts. We’re about creating a nurturing environment that empowers nurses to thrive while delivering top-notch patient care.

Our unique approach, fueled by comprehensive incentives, results in a remarkable synergy that guarantees faster shift fulfillment, higher show rates, and improved patient outcomes for our healthcare facility partners.

We recruit and credential our nurses and classify them as W-2 employees, so we take full responsibility for them on the job. By taking these steps, our partners save tremendously on recruitment and compliance costs.

Nurse Retention

ShiftMed counteracts the stress of the nursing profession by providing nurses with incentives that keep them thriving while doing the work they love. In addition to job flexibility, our nurses have access to:

  • Free Instant Pay or Next Day Pay®.

  • Affordable healthcare coverage after working one shift.

  • Discounted Uber Health rides to and from shifts.

  • Extra earning opportunities via monthly sweepstakes.

  • Training and upskilling programs at a reduced rate.

The photo features the ShiftMed nursing jobs app and the ShiftMed Portal.

On-Demand Workforce Platform

ShiftMed has the workforce technology to help healthcare facilities build, maintain, and manage an efficient, cost-effective staffing strategy that yields continuous, high-quality patient care.

Our platform provides healthcare facilities with direct 24/7 access to our per-diem nurses. Once a facility scheduler posts open shifts, they go live in our nursing jobs mobile app for local nurses to claim.

We also have advanced tools that revolutionize the way facilities manage internal and external staff, including:

  • An AI dashboard that recommends staffing solutions for hard-to-fill shifts.

  • Predictive analytics and business intelligence that optimizes labor spending.

  • Feedback loops that enable staffing decisions based on cost and staff seniority.

  • Clean, consolidated data automates reporting and streamlines invoicing.

Healthcare Workforce Trends Conclusion

Overall, alternative staffing methods, on-demand healthcare staffing, and multi-faceted workforce strategies offer a dynamic and efficient way for healthcare facilities to address staffing challenges, maintain optimal staffing ratios, and ensure the delivery of quality patient care while controlling costs.

Total workforce solutions, such as those offered by ShiftMed, that bridge the gap between nurses and facilities are increasingly valuable in today's healthcare landscape, where workforce flexibility and adaptability are essential.

Want to learn more about how ShiftMed can elevate your healthcare staffing while lowering labor costs? Book a demo today!

2023 Healthcare Executive Workforce Trends Infographic

Our healthcare executive workforce trends survey shows a surge in demand for workforce marketplace solutions.

ShiftMed infographic highlighting key topics from its 2023 Healthcare Executive Workforce Trends Survey.