The gig economy has been on the rise for the past decade, but its impact on healthcare has been especially notable in recent years. As the demand for healthcare services continues to grow, the gig economy has presented itself as a solution to address healthcare support staffing shortages in the industry. However, healthcare providers need to find the right partner that helps eliminate the risk that comes with leveraging the gig economy.
In this article, we will explore the current state of gig work in healthcare, how the gig economy is changing the workforce, how we got here, and what it means for the road ahead. We will also discuss how healthcare providers can improve healthcare support staffing and how ShiftMed is revolutionizing nurse staffing in the gig economy.
Current State of Gig Work in Healthcare
Gig workforce in healthcare allows facilities to hire a professional as needed, for one shift or a few days, to fill staffing shortages. This includes nurses, nursing assistants, and other healthcare professionals who work on a per-project or per-shift basis. According to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the healthcare industry is projected to add 3.4 million jobs between 2018 and 2028, making it one of the fastest-growing industries in the country. As the demand for healthcare services increases, so too does the need for healthcare workers. Tapping into the gig workforce enables providers to hire fewer full-time staff, which gives them a pool of workers to tap into as needed.
The gig workforce in healthcare has grown in popularity in recent years as a solution to staffing shortages. According to a survey by OliverWyman, the use of contract or gig workers in healthcare has grown by 18% from 2014 to 2021. Gig workers in healthcare are often used to fill short-term staffing gaps, such as during peak seasons or when a permanent staff member is on leave. However, the use of gig workers in healthcare is not limited to short-term needs. Many healthcare providers are turning to the gig economy as a long-term solution to staffing issues.
How We've Gotten Here: State of Nursing
Nursing in the United States is in a state of flux. According to the American Nurses Association, the United States is facing a nursing shortage that is projected to worsen in the coming years. This shortage is driven by a combination of factors, including an aging population, a shortage of nursing faculty, pay not keeping pace with the cost of living, a larger patient load than feasible for their position, and a lack of incentives for nurses to enter the workforce.
The nursing shortage has led to a number of problems for healthcare providers. One of the most significant issues is a lack of continuity of care. When there are not enough nurses to go around, patients are often cared for by multiple nurses over the course of their stay in a healthcare facility. This can lead to confusion and a lack of continuity in the care provided to patients. Additionally, the nursing shortage has led to increased burnout among nurses, which can lead to a higher risk of errors and poor patient outcomes.
State of Gig Economy: Risks for Healthcare
While the gig economy has presented itself as a solution to staffing shortages in healthcare, it also comes with a number of risks that must be considered by healthcare providers.
Risk Patient Outcomes
One of the most significant risks associated with the gig economy in healthcare is the potential for poor patient outcomes. When healthcare workers are not familiar with the facility or the patients they are caring for, there is a higher risk of errors being made. Additionally, when healthcare workers are not familiar with the facility's policies and procedures, there is a higher risk of noncompliance with regulatory standards.
Risk Continuity of Care
A major concern with the utilization of gig workers in healthcare is the potential disruption to continuity of care. When healthcare professionals are unfamiliar with the facility or patient population, it increases the likelihood of confusion and disjointed care. This can result in delayed treatments and a lack of communication among healthcare providers.
How to Improve Staffing Issues in Nursing
While the gig economy in healthcare presents potential risks, it also offers a solution to the ongoing staffing issues in nursing. Healthcare companies can benefit from the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of gig workers while minimizing risk by utilizing a workforce partner like ShiftMed, who partner with hospitals, health systems, and skilled nursing facilities to help fill shifts with highly reliable, fully-credentialed W-2 healthcare workers and provides the technology to offer open shifts and confirm that they’ve been picked up.
In addition to addressing the staffing issues in nursing, healthcare providers must take a holistic approach. This includes implementing strategies to attract and retain nurses, improving working conditions, and investing in technology to streamline the staffing process. One way to attract and retain nurses is by offering competitive compensation and benefits. This includes offering nurses a living wage, health insurance, and other impactful benefits. ShiftMed knows just how important nurse well-being is to patient care and so the suite of benefit offerings they provide ensures nurses are able to be their best selves every day.
Additionally, healthcare providers can invest in training and development programs to help nurses advance in their careers. Another way to improve staffing issues is by improving working conditions. This includes reducing the number of patients assigned to each nurse, providing adequate resources, and investing in technology to streamline the staffing process.
How ShiftMed Can Revolutionize Nurse Staffing
ShiftMed is an innovative workforce platform that’s revolutionizing the way healthcare providers approach staffing. By providing health systems, hospitals, and skilled nursing facilities with accountable healthcare workers and the resources to create consistency in their staffing and control labor costs, facilities gain their own robust float pool and streamline scheduling processes.
Our approach to accountable healthcare staffing is centered on the long-term hiring of quality health workers and providing them with benefits that keep them committed and satisfied. Our nurses are hired as W-2 employees, meaning ShiftMed takes on the burden of worker’s compensation, overtime, and unemployment insurance. We also handle all recruitment and credentialing to ensure efficient onboarding and to quickly fill facilities with top-quality nurses. Additionally, our integration with scheduling software simplifies and streamlines the staffing process, reducing the burden of scheduling multiple systems.
The gig workforce in healthcare has presented itself as a solution to staffing shortages, but it also comes with a number of risks that must be considered by healthcare providers. To address these risks, healthcare providers must take a holistic approach to staffing. ShiftMed is revolutionizing the way healthcare providers staff their facilities and offers a sustainable and stable solution within the realm of the gig economy, one that maximizes the benefits of gig workers while eliminating the risks and problems.