Hospices Wield Technology in Recruitment ‘Ground War’
As they battle it out for new hires, technology is proving essential to hospices’ arsenal of recruitment tactics. The pandemic accelerated shifts in the ways hospices use tech solutions, like telehealth for patient care or video conferencing to connect with remote-working employees, and a similar trend is developing around recruitment and retention. To maximize the results, investing in staff with technological knowledge and expertise is becoming crucial.
The need for skilled technical staff is more critical than ever as technology becomes more integral to a wider range of business and clinical functions, according to Susan Ponder Stansel, president and CEO of Florida-based Alivia Care.
“Recruiting has become a ground war, and that pressure will continue for the foreseeable future,” Ponder Stansel told Hospice News in an email. “With the clinical staffing shortages, using technology to expand the scope and efficiency of our limited workforce isn’t an option, it’s a must.
We [will] see the need and demand for more resources in the information technology/systems area continue to grow.”
When it comes to tech savvy staff, the competition extends beyond the hospice marketplace. Hospice are up against a vast range of companies thirsting for these personnel in a slimming labor pool.
As in health care, the so-called Great Resignation has also hit the technology sector.
The “quit rate” of the technology workforce has reached a record high, and is anticipated to worsen in coming years, according to a nationwide survey from TalentLMS and Workable. Survey results indicated that as many as 72% of employees in technology and IT roles are considering leaving their jobs in the next year.
For 58% of respondents to that survey, burnout was the most significant factor that pushed them out of their fields, while 40% cited a lack of career progression and advancement opportunities.
While the need for staff is similar across these industries, hospice providers are not competing in a level playing field. Many companies within or apart from health care can offer higher pay and more flexible schedules. The average annual wage estimate for technical occupations hovered around $91,100 last year, reported the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Yet the demand for technological expertise is growing alongside the demand for hospice care.
Hospices have increasingly integrated technologies such as artificial intelligence, predictive analytics and machine learning tools to help them identify eligible patients earlier, calculate their market share and optimize the speed of claims and reimbursement.
More hospices have integrated electronic health record (EHR) systems to improve transitions of care, as well as solutions to collect data that payers want to see as they move towards a value-based care payment landscape. Hospice providers need staff who are experienced with technology to support the infrastructure necessary to maximize the benefits of these investments.
Hospices will also increasingly need staff who can evaluate effectiveness of these systems and assist with implementation and organization-wide training, Ponder Stansel stated.
Making missteps in technology investment and staff hiring can be costly for hospices.
“Investment in technology is one of the greatest opportunities and the greatest risks for hospices and home care organizations right now,” said Ponder Stansel. “Investing in technology that doesn’t ultimately meet your needs can be a multi-million dollar mistake, both in direct costs and in wasted time and effort. The stakes in getting these decisions as right as we can are high. Having highly knowledgeable and experienced staff to step us through these decisions is essential.”
Bolstering their ranks with technologically trained staff can ease strain on clinicians and allow for more time spent with patients and families, according to Shelley Henry, founder and president of The Amity Group, a Louisiana-based hospice staffing agency.
The complexity of patient record keeping systems in hospice alongside the nuances of billing and regulatory requirements places an increasingly heavy burden on clinicians, she told Hospice News.
“Having more well-trained staff that know how to work within all of their technologies can make a huge impact on the work that your clinical staff is able to do,” said Henry. “There’s a lot of things that can be done in the office that right now are falling on to the nurses. It’s worth the time and money to invest in staffing who really understand and know how to efficiently use an EHR or EMR system. It makes a big, big difference.”