Staffing Robot

“When I grow up I want to work in the healthcare staffing industry!” 

Ok, these words never came from my mouth as a child.  Yet, here I find myself an active participant in the industry for over 8 years.  As a child, however, I was always fascinated by technology.  I’m not simply talking about computers or hand held devices, I’m talking about big concepts.  Back-mounted units of propulsion and self-constructed beams of laser light used to defend the galaxy come to mind.

A few years back when I worked for a national healthcare staffing company I started to notice an alarming trend.  We started to sound just like our competitors, and they like us.  It was the same pitch over and over – We all had the best nurses.  We all had the best “high-touch” customer service.  And, of course, we all wanted our bill rates to increase annually.  The truth is there was nothing unique about the service any of our companies offered.  Especially from the client’s perspective.  We were all just jacketless books on the shelf, indistinguishable from the next.  After a while, I started to feel like a robot.  Not in a good way either.  I felt pre-programmed, incapable of changing my function.  I was in fact, a staffing robot. 

Now, several years later, I talk to staffing suppliers from all across the country every day.  What have I noticed?  Not much has changed.  I get suppliers telling me about how their services are different from their competitors and their nurses are the best.  But for the most part, they’re just doing the same thing every supplier in the industry is doing. 

To be fair, there are several companies in the industry offering new and innovative solutions and it’s my goal to bring more attention to those companies.  But ask yourself, what role are you playing?  Are you a staffing robot?  Are you sure? 

It’s time we figured out how to truly bring value to our clients.  In fact, should we not focus some of our efforts to help solve the nursing shortage as a whole?  The healthcare staffing industry is in need of change.  Now is the time for new and innovative solutions to make their way to the forefront.  We need to think differently and better embrace innovation and technology.

After all, it’s 2009 and no matter who you are technology is a big part of all our lives – both personally and professionally.  Healthcare has been notoriously behind when it comes to adopting technology and the healthcare staffing industry is no exception.  With all the focus on technology playing a bigger role in healthcare it’s imperative that we all play our part at ensuring the same focus occurs in our area.

The companies creating and providing innovative solutions to the market can’t solely carry the burden of this challenge.  It is up to every participant in the industry to embrace these ideas and changes and help impact the way business is done for the better.  If successful, such changes could dramatically improve:

  • Patient care quality
  • Fairness of competition
  • Ensured compliance and standards
  • Accurate and market driven bill and pay rates
  • Client satisfaction
  • Greater access and ability to recruit and retain staff
  • Quicker and more reliable communication
  • The impact (if not eliminate) felt by the shortage of healthcare professionals

Some of these might be lofty goals but the challenge we face in this country at improving our healthcare system is great.  I’m certainly not an expert in the field of healthcare staffing or in technology.  But I am present, active and interested in both.  My goal with this blog is to engage others with similar interests, identify those playing a part in these efforts and win some converts through an ongoing conversation to help further and support technological innovations in the healthcare staffing industry.

Full Disclosure:
I am the founder and current Vice President of Product Marketing of a software company called ShiftWise.  ShiftWise is a Vendor Management Services provider to the healthcare staffing industry.  That said, this blog will not be a sales board for ShiftWise, nor is it endorsed or supported by ShiftWise in anyway.  The views and opinions expressed in this blog are my personal views and opinions only. 

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