At the end of 2009 we recapped the top stories in the healthcare staffing industry and made our predictions for healthcare staffing industry trends in 2010. As 2010 now comes to a close, it's interesting to see how we did on these predictions, reflect on industry events in 2010 and make some predictions on healthcare staffing trends in 2011.
The Healthcare Staffing Industry in 2010
Healthcare Staffing and the Economy 2011
The macro economic effects on the healthcare staffing industry were still the big stories this year. The SIA's 2010 Healhtcare Staffing Summit gave us all some great insight and data on this topic. While not as dire as the economic downturn in 2009, the news was still mostly a downer.
In 2010 hospitals still struggled with everything from reduced budgets to nationwide nursing strikes. All of this caused hospital job growth to slow dramatically and negatively impacted the revenue for the entire industry. While the revenue dropped for almost every company (large and small) in the healthcare staffing industry, perhaps the most notable news was learning Medical Staffing Network filed for bankruptcy in 2010.
The bad economy also claimed a few tech companies in the healthcare staffing industry in 2010. One of the largest was Healthcare VMS provider, Symbio Solutions, who filed for bankruptcy in 2010.
Negative changes in the economy produce acquisitions in every industry and the healthcare staffing industry was no exception. ABRY Partners made news with their acquisition of Comforce late in the year. However, the biggest merger news of 2010 was AMN's acquisition of Medfinders. This alliance will definitely be a game changer in 2011, particularly on the vendor management side of things.
There was also a lot of news this year regarding healthcare staffing tech company acquisitions. Concerro was one of the first, expanding their client base and service offerings by acquiring Res-Q Healthcare Systems. More significantly, however, were the acquisitions of Medefis by OnWard Healthcare and Symbio Solutions by Broadlane. Broadlane picked up the remaining assets from Symbio's bankruptcy and Onward Healthcare made a bold move by acquiring the once, vendor neutral, Medefis VMS technology.
New Technology Products for Healthcare Staffing in 2010
2010 also brought the introduction of some new software applications to the industry. Tweetdeck announced a new tool for recruiters called Job Deck, while Concerro launched their new IPhone scheduling app. Amistaff also launched a fantastic new product called Prophecy to help hospitals with employee hiring assessments. Finally, we can't leave out our or own product – ePromoter. Staffing Robot launched ePromoter in September as the first email marketing software designed and created specifically for managing healthcare staffing email marketing campaigns.
Successful Marketing Strategies for Healthcare Staffing Companies in 2010
This year, healthcare staffing companies found their most successful marketing efforts on the web. There were many changes to both search and social marketing this year that companies had to pay attention to. While Bing made itself a respected search competitor, Google decided it was time for their searches to get more social. And then Bing got really social by being the first search engined allowed to search facebook.
Although many things changed this year for social media marketing, the top stories were all about Facebook. Facebook is perhaps the best place for healthcare staffing companies to market on the web. The biggest news from Facebook was the announcement of their new 'Like' button. This simple button is changing a lot on the web in terms of how companies interact with their audience. It even started getting people asking which was more important – search engine or social network optimization.
Another marketing strategy some healthcare staffing companies took in 2010 was rebranding. Access Nurses became Aya Healthcare and Broadlane rebranded their VMS division to Prolucent. The biggest news, however, was the fact that AMN rebranded after some large acquisitions and expanding their service offerings.
Our company also went through a lot of changes this year. The most significant change being that we went from simply being a healthcare staffing blog to a full service website design and marketing company for the healthcare staffing industry. We also launched a healthcare industry news service called The Healthcare Staffing Report. Look for more changes from us in this next year as we continue to grow, expand our service offerings and launch new staffing related software products.
So, like we said, 2010 was a very eventful year for the healthcare staffing industry. So what will the next year bring?
Further Consolidation of Staffing Agencies and Tech Companies
Although there was a lot of acquisition activity in 2010 we haven't seen the end of it. Unfortunately, many healthcare staffing agencies are still hoping for a major rebound in the economy to keep them in business. When this doesn't happen they will be looking to sell. In addition, stronger partnerships and mergers amongst small to medium players are going to be necessary to compete with the size of companies like AMN.
Tech companies in the healthcare staffing industry will be no exception. In the last decade, many tech companies have started in the healthcare staffing industry. Several of them have realized that considerable capital backing is necessary to fully realize their opportunity. Therefore, we'll see a lot of these companies forming partnerships or selling to larger, better capitalized players who can successfully deliver their offerings.
Note to future self: Be honest about revenue and its cost of acquisition. If it's not working out – call it a day or change your game.
Success of the MSP Model
The SIA predicts that by the end of 2011 over 90% of hospitals will have adopted a VMS solution. While we don't believe it will be quite that high, hospital adoption of VMS is certain to continue increasing. In the last two years the vendor neutral, tech model has failed to prove its success when competing against the MSP model at large health systems. In addition, the MSP model has had a major resurgence of success in the last two years as hospitals have cared less about vendor neutrality and more about the successful outsourcing of their entire staffing operation.
As big companies like AMN continue to improve these offerings through technology, process and acquisitions, they will become more of a dominant service offering in the industry. If you're not AMN, figuring out your strategy on how to thrive in the presence of this new model is highly advised.
Note to future self: Starting your own VMS offering is not the answer.
Greater Success with Web Marketing
2011 will be the year healthcare staffing companies realize the value of marketing on the web. More and more companies in the space are developing mobile web applications and launching successful social media campaigns as a way to grow their audience and increase their revenue. In 2011, understanding how to succeed on the web will become more critical than ever before. Many companies in this space are still wondering if there is any real value here and spending months analyzing (read: guessing) at the ROI they'll receive on their efforts. Beat them by doing the opposite.
Note to future self: Stop guessing – start acting.
How healthcare reform effects the healthcare staffing industry will once again become a major topic as companies prepare to deal with some of the reform aspects that begin in 2012.
Note to future self: Start preparing for this in 2008 – the good and the bad.
At the end of 2009 we predicted that 2010 would bring about some new innovation for the healthcare staffing industry. Sadly, we were wrong here. It was mostly business as usual in this area as most tech companies just focused on how to stay in business. Hopefully this year we will see new tech innovations from some of the larger players or new comers in the market.
Note to future self: Make your idea a reality.
The Market Will Rebound
Oh! A very bold prediction indeed! In 2009 we predicted the market would return in mid 2011. We're holding to that prediction. Almost every company we speak with is seeing positive signs that the market is turning around. Although no one expects this year to return to pre 2008 levels, any improvement will be welcomed. The SIA also put out some encouraging data for next year supporting this prediciton:
It's been another exciting year being in this industry. Time will tell what 2011 has in store for all of us. What are your predictions for healthcare staffing in 2011? If you have any, please share them here.
We wish you all happy holidays and much success in the new year. See you in 2011!