I thought I’d use this post to highlight some of the big events that affected the healthcare staffing industry in 2009 as well as make a few predictions about the industry for 2010. (is it ‘twenty-ten’ or ‘two thousand ten’?)
What the healthcare staffing industry looked like in 2009:
Major downturn in spending on healthcare temporary staff.
The biggest news in 2009 for the healthcare staffing industry was undoubtedly about the downturn in the economy. My second blog post ever was on the reasons hospitals were spending less on healthcare agency staff. The down turn in the economy even made people start asking the question: “is there still a nursing shortage?” From there, leading economists confirmed that not only was the economy bad but that it will take awhile for it to improve and return the healthcare staffing industry to pre-2009 levels. And finally, the Staffing Industry Analysts informed us that the nurse travel industry decreased by 44% this year and we saw this downturn reflected in the revenue loss reported by major public healthcare staffing companies.
Widespread adoption of healthcare vendor management.
In 2009 hospitals gave a big vote of confidence to vendor management as the preferred model for agency management. VMS has matured in the industry and delivered on its promise of saving hospitals both time and money on their staffing costs.
How healthcare reform will affect healthcare staffing.
The topic of how healthcare reform will affect healthcare staffing couldn’t be avoided. Many debates about the pros and cons of healthcare reform occurred on my blog and many of us had the privilege of hearing former Senator Tom Daschle’s view on healthcare reform at the healthcare staffing industry conference. AMN even produced results from a poll suggesting that hospital CEO’s feel healthcare reform will benefit the healthcare staffing industry.
Technology VMS companies struggle.
Even though some healthcare vendor management technology companies thrived in 2009 as hospitals increased their adoption of VMS, many companies did not fair so well. A few healthcare VMS technology companies had to close their doors this year while some VMS companies struggled to pay their staffing agency partners. Additionally, some VMS companies found acquisition to be the best way to survive the turbulent year.
Increased use of social media.
2009 was the year that many hospitals and staffing agencies began to use social media. Many hospitals, such as Providence St. Vincents in Portland Oregon who found success with their ‘pink glove dance video‘
that went viral, took full advantage of these tools. Some hospitals are still behind when it comes to social media while several hospitals are finding success with tools such as Twitter. Both healthcare staffing agencies and hospitals are now promoting and monitoring their brands online, as the online tools for brand promotion and management are starting to become more prevalent. I’ve even created some helpful tools for people to search for healthcare staffing industry information and follow companies in the healthcare staffing industry on Twitter.
As you can see, 2009 was a very eventful year for the healthcare staffing industry. So what will the next year bring?
More consolidation of staffing agencies and VMS companies.
After struggling through the economic downturn of the last 1.5 years many companies are now really feeling the effects. I see several staffing agencies closing their doors and many more acquisitions in 2010. I wouldn’t be surprised if we even see some consolidation with some of the major players. In addition, I expect we’ll see some more acquisitions of healthcare VMS companies.
Continued adoption of vendor management.
Hospitals will continue to choose vendor management for their agency management solution. As the rate of adoption continues to increase, I expect we’ll see hospitals still choose vendor neutral healthcare vendor management companies over agency run managed service providers.
New technology players.
The industry has gotten a bit stale in terms of innovation and new technology options. In addition, we’ve seen a decent amount of consolidation of industry technology companies. Both of these facts suggest to me that new players will enter the market and hopefully they will bring with them some exciting and innovate technologies. As these players enter the healthcare staffing industry I expect we’ll see more and more hospitals and healthcare staffing companies embracing technology to improve their staffing process. Stay tuned!
New marketing methods and opportunities.
As budgets tighten many hospitals and staffing agencies will look for more inexpensive and effective methods for marketing their services. Many more healthcare staffing organizations will turn to SEO/SEM and social media for company/brand promotion.
The market will come back slowly. Kind of.
Even though there are some positive signs for the economy overall and there has been some slight improvements in the healthcare staffing industry I don’t see anything that suggests we should get too excited. Earlier this week the Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) hosted a webinar about the economic outlook for 2010. Their predictions suggested that every industry will improve in 2010 – except healthcare staffing. In fact, they are predicting an overall decline of -1%. Therefore, unfortunately, I believe 2010 will still be a year of struggle. There will be some positive bumps here and there but we won’t start fully pulling out of this down turn until early/mid 2011.
What are your predictions for healthcare staffing in 2010? Please share them here if you have any.
I wish you all well – happy holidays – happy new year. See you in 2010!