By Adam Steinberg, EVP client experience, Experity.
The popularity of urgent care has grown continuously over the past several decades, but in just the last few years, the U.S. market has exploded as more and more patients look for nonemergent care options that are more affordable, accessible and convenient.
For many patients, urgent care offers more flexible hours than traditional physician offices and provides care that is both faster and less costly than a visit to the emergency room. The benefits of urgent care were further accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic, as clinics across the country swiftly adapted to meet the evolving needs of patients and proved that healthcare can be high-velocity, high-quality and accessible to the masses.
Urgent care clinics served a crucial role in providing accessible testing and vaccination for the COVID-19 virus. As a result of urgent care’s impressive response to this demand, its status in the broader healthcare continuum has elevated it to the care site of choice for millions of patients, leading to a significant rise in daily patient visit volumes and expanded expectations for clinics nationwide.
While patient demand and visit volumes continue increasing for U.S. urgent cares, as do staffing shortages. Keeping clinics fully staffed and ensuring staff satisfaction is a top priority for clinic leaders and owners to continue meeting growing patient demand. To better understand the industry’s most pressing growth and retention challenges, and to provide urgent care leaders with actionable insights to support staff satisfaction at their own practices, urgent care leaders across the country were surveyed in the spring of 2022 to reveal beneficial strategies to boost success in these areas and fundamental changes necessary for urgent care clinics to retain and attract talent.
Keeping Staff Satisfied by Meeting Their Top Needs
As demands on clinic staff increase, meeting and prioritizing employee needs is essential for retention. According to the responses from urgent care leaders surveyed about key initiatives they’ve implemented at their own clinics to keep staff happy on the job, the top two initiatives for increasing job satisfaction and retention were offering flexible scheduling and financial incentives.
Clinicians, radiologists, and front desk staff are some of the most difficult positions to fill at clinics right now, all of which are essential to a clinic’s day-to-day operations. Providing the desired incentives for clinic staff will help retain the current workforce and entice new talent to join the team – helping to maintain a fully staffed clinic that delivers on the promise to provide quality, accessible, on-demand care.
By Naeem K. Manz, an experienced blogger, digital content and social marketer. He enjoys writing about the latest news in business, technology and health.
The healthcare industry is run on trust: Trust between the doctors and their patients, between all the staff working in the building, even between the medics and the suppliers of all the hospital technology. Trust is the only way that people can surrender themselves to the hands of medical professionals and believe that they are doing the best they can.
This is why the hiring process for jobs in the healthcare industry is so stringent — and it should be. Whether you are a custodian or an MD, you are surrounded by vulnerable people all day long, working in their best interests even when they aren’t able to make decisions for themselves.
So what should you do as the hiring committee to ensure that only the best, most suitable staff are hired?
After receiving all the applications for the job, you should do thorough background checks. Usually, this will include calling previous employers or given referees to ask about work history, but given the setting, you may also wish to do more in-depth checks. A good method is reverse phone lookup on Check Them. All you need to do is enter in their phone number (usually found on their CV) and you will receive a report on everything you need to know from their location to social media profiles.
This depth of background check might sound extreme, but in our modern world, it is always better to be sure that you know exactly who you are hiring, what their past is and whether any concern is flagged up ahead of time.
Once you are satisfied with the background check, you should always invite the successful candidates to interview face to face. At the interview, you aren’t looking for qualifications or background information, now you are looking at how they respond to certain scenarios and whether you think that they would fit into your existing team.
One of the key things to point out here is that you should always be looking to create a diverse team of people with complementary skills. This is the best way to ensure that problems can be solved quickly and creatively and that everyone can learn something from someone else. As the medical profession moves so fast, this is vital for patient health.
Health eCareers’ new 2015 Healthcare Recruiting Trends Survey found that the demand for healthcare services is predicted to swell over the next 10 years. Unfortunately, the supply of healthcare providers is unlikely to keep up with this increased demand, creating a shortage of qualified physicians – especially those in family medicine, psychiatry, internal medicine and a variety of other specialties.
Health eCareers offers tips for healthcare employers and recruiters to address the intense hiring challenges created by the gap between physician supply and demand.
Factors Creating Physician Shortage
Bryan Bassett, Managing Director of Health eCareers, says four demand-side factors are driving this shortage: millions of newly insured people entering the system due to the Affordable Care Act, aging baby boomers with increased medical needs, aging caregivers reaching retirement age and a stronger economy.
There are also lifestyle factors at play causing shortages in specific fields, such as primary care. “Although more students are actually entering medical schools and residency programs than a decade ago, today’s young physicians often choose to specialize rather than choosing primary care as a way of ensuring a better work-life balance than their predecessors,” says Bassett.
But there’s also good news for hospitals hoping to hire new doctors.
“In the past two years, we have seen more physicians who want to be employed by healthcare organizations rather than going into private practice,” explains Barkley Davis, Senior Director, Physician Recruitment at LifePoint Hospitals®, a public company with 70 hospitals in 22 states focused primarily in non-urban markets. “They’re looking for a stable environment that has financial backing and a lot of things already in place, such as a built-in practice, electronic records, billing and collections and minimal financial risk. It’s a security thing.”
A new study by Health eCareers found that nearly one-third of healthcare recruiters in the U.S. rank employee turnover as their greatest staffing concern this year and say hiring the best healthcare employees is only half the battle – once you have them, you need to keep them.
Turnover in hospitals has high numbers and results in high costs in the industry. According to 565 healthcare employer respondents in Health eCareers’ 2015 Healthcare Recruiting Trends Survey, almost 30 percent expect that they will have more job openings in 2015 than last year, and 45 percent expect to have about the same. But 43 percent of respondents say finding qualified talent is their number one obstacle.
Retention is the Solution
Employee retention should be the first line of defense to combat the challenges created by turnover and is a key strategic imperative for 90 percent of hospitals.
“According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the healthcare unemployment rate is 3.5 percent. Many economists feel full healthcare employment is between two and three percent, so this means we are very close to full employment,” says Bill Thomson, a healthcare staffing expert and account representative at Health eCareers.
This finding raises the question: where will healthcare get its new workers?
Thomson says because most healthcare professionals are currently employed, it’s much more effective and efficient to invest in retention than to go out, recruit and train new employees.