We spent this week at the Healthcare Staffing Summit in Chicago. I've gone to this conference for the last 8 years and I have to say I felt this year was one of the best conferences ever. Even though the industry data presented wasn't anything to celebrate, it did appear there was some light at the end of the tunnel.
Aside from the data it was a great networking opportunity and the venue at the Palmer House Hilton was amazing. We met lots of great people doing some very interesting things and attended many sessions that provided invaluable information. Also, as a company, Staffing Robot, was honored to speak on a panel about social media marketing that was well attended and full of great participation from the audience.
Here is a summary of some of the highlights from my notes throughout the week.
As usual, Barry Asin kicked off the summit providing lots of great information about the industry. Of all the data presented, perhaps the most shocking was that in 2010, spend on healthcare staffing has been cut to $7.9B. For comparision, in 2006 it was at $10.1B.
- Unemployment continues to be a huge negative factor for the overall economy. As of August, unemployment still remains high at 9.64%.
- Hospitals have continued to decrease their spending on contract labor as this unemployment number has increased.
- Even though the data is negative for contract labor, full employment remained a relative bright spot in the overall economy. Much of this employment growth occurred in ambulatory settings.
- Many hospitals have or are in the process of implementing internal resource pools but need assistance in consulting, recruiting and the staffing managment. Agencies should see opportunity in helping hospitals manage internal resource pools.
- VMS/MSP adoption continues to accelerate. The Staffing Industry Analysts suggest that hospitals have adopted VMS at a rate of over 70% and MSP of over 50%. Personally, I question these numbers. Although there has been widespread acceptance, this number seems very high to me. Regardless, the lesson here though is that buyers prefer to consolidate their suppliers.
- 2010 spend on healthcare staffing cut to $7.9B. In 2006 it was $10.1B.
- Private healthcare staffing company revue is improving. However, becaue of previous losses, they are still in the negative.
- Major industry events this year:
• L.A. Times article criticizes temp nurses ‐ Dec. 2009
• Symbio VMS sold in bankruptcy court ‐ Feb 2010
• Healthcare Reform Passes –March 2010
• MSN files ch. 11 and acquired by creditors – July 2010
• AMN announces acquisition of Medfinders – July 2010
• MedAssets acquires Broadlane – Sept 2010
- The overall forecast for 2010 for spending on healthcare staffing shows a slight improvement of 1% and a 10% improvement for locums tenens.
- Data suggests that the nursing shortage won't return in full swing until 2018.
- Older nurses make great candidates to recruit. Many of these nurses are looking for supportive and flexible work arrangements and practices (e.g. modified workloads, flexible scheduling options, reduction in hours of work, etc.).
- Hospitals expect four key things from contingent workers: Quality, Efficiency, Cost (not just rates, but true costs of the overall program) Risk (How much do I really have? Should we
mitigate or eradicate? What’s best for the business?)
- Of all the temp industries, healthcare uses the fewest amount of contingent labor and has the worst perception of contingent labor.
- The rank of the largest healthcare staffing firms by revenue has changed. Most notably, Cross Country was pushed down to the 3rd spot by CHG Healthcare:
- The impact of healthcare reform on the staffing industry is still largely unknown. Some of the reforms (such as additional coverage) will have a positive impact, while others (employer mandates) will be mostly negative.
- The overall healthcare staffing industry forecast for next year does show some slight imrovement
We spoke on a panel about Social Media Marketing for Healthcare Staffing Agencies. Because of the other topics at the same time, I was expecting a small turnout. However, we actually had a packed room with people standing around in the back. The audience was very much interested and engaged in the topic, which made for a great discussion.
I intend to blog more about this session in a separate post but here are some of the highlights and questions from the discussion:
- Definition of Social Media: Social media is defined by the act of sharing content in
and between social networks regardless of the content type.
- Who owns Social Media: Marketing? President/Owner? Recruiters? Sales?
- Value (why participate) in Social Media: It’s cool and fun – I don’t, I leave it for the young people – It is a time sink, so I don’t – I love it, it is how I keep up with everything.
- What’s relevant and what’s not: Blogs, Micro-blogging (Twitter), Video sharing, Social CRM (Jigsaw, InsideView), Facebook vs. LinkedIn – Facebook and LinkedIn.
- How do you create good content and how do you keep people engaged?
- How can I ensure my staff are using social media properly?
- When engaging in social media, what should I be measuring and tracking and what tools can I use to do this?
- How can staffing agencies 'control' their brand and employee/customer particiaption in social media?
- What are the legal considerations of social media?
VMS is always a contentious topic and this years discussion was no exception. Many people expressed many concerns they have about Vendor Management Services (VMS), mostly around the Managed Services Provider (MSP) model.
I did think it was great that the panel was mostly talking about VMS and defined VMS strictly as being the technology delivery model, not to be confused with the MSP model. Yes! Also, Dana Shaw is my favorite panel moderator, as she is always very energetic and entertaining.
Although the panel provided some interesting information I did think it was somewhat odd that they only had 1 (non SIA) participant and this person was not from a healthcare VMS background. Surely having someone from Medefis, Prolucent or ShiftWise would have added significant value and perspective to the topic. Unfortunately, much of what the panel participant had to say was not relevant to healthcare staffing.
Here are some of the other highlights from my notes:
- VMS panel claim: "VMS has faster adoption if it is accompanied with a service program." This simply isn't true. Pure play VMS tech companies have had a much higher acceptance/adoption than those accompanied by a service. Barry Asin's keynote data even suggested that hospitals have adopted VMS at a rate of over 70% and MSP of over 50%.
- One of the things the panel did do was attempt to dispell a huge VMS myth: VMS companies keep vendors from talking to their clients. The reality is that the client sets these rules. The VMS is just the tech.
- The biggest issue healthcare staffing companies still face with VMS tech companies is that disparate systems keep the complications of working with VMS high. There is no systems standardization. The hosptials and staffing agencies are all using different systems and then 5 – 10 different VMS systems are sitting in the middle.
- VMS panel claim: "No buyer really wants vendor neutrality. Vendor neutrality is dead." Again, I couldn't disagree with this more. When vendor neutral, VMS tech first appeared in the industry it was all the rage for 3 – 4 years. Since then, the managed services model has made a big come back. However, suggesting that there is no longer a demand for vendor neutrality is not accurate.
- VMS panel claim: Avg fee for VMS is 1/2% – 10 years ago it was 5-7%. Again, this data is inaccurate. I know that every MSP charges 3 – 5% and all of the big VMS tech players charge 2 – 4%. So, I'm not sure how they are getting to this number.
In short, it was a great conference. If you've never attended I highly encourage you to do so. It's the best signle event for getting industry data, networking, checking out your competition and learning more about new things in the industry.
See you next year!