Three Essential Qualities for a Vendor Management System

Healthcare today is facing some unprecedented challenges. With a growing demand for services and a shrinking labor pool, many healthcare organizations have difficulty meeting patient demand and maintaining a high standard of care while adhering to budgetary guidelines. Vendor management systems (VMS) can be an invaluable asset to healthcare organizations.

An effective vendor management system offers many benefits. With a contingent workforce, healthcare organizations have access to on-demand employment and are always prepared to provide high-quality patient care even if there is a significant increase in demand for service. Additionally, scaling staff up or down is easier with a contingent workforce, making operations more cost-effective according to the demand for services.

Managing a contingent workforce takes significant time and organization. A vendor management system is a cost-effective way to manage your workforce, but you need to choose the right VMS to benefit. How do you know what VMS will be the best fit for your company? Below, find three of the most important considerations when choosing a VMS for your healthcare organization.

Compliance Management

Maintaining compliance is critical for healthcare organizations and staffing. When working with a vendor management system, it is important to work with one that understands the importance of compliance. Maintaining compliance is critical for several reasons, including:

●  Patient Safety: Patient safety is crucial, and regulations are in place to ensure patient safety is not compromised. Maintaining compliance with regulations and guidelines ensures that patients remain protected against harm.

●  Legal Liability: Litigation is time-consuming and costly, and failing to comply with regulations can result in lawsuits, as well as penalties and fines. Additionally, lawsuits can damage the reputation of a healthcare organization and erode patient trust. Maintaining compliance helps hospitals and other healthcare organizations avoid lawsuits and legal liability.

●  Patient Care: In addition to patient safety, patient care is at the center of all healthcare organizations. Most healthcare providers must have the necessary training, qualifications, experience, and certifications to provide services. Maintaining compliance with qualifications for employment ensures that patients receive a high standard of care. 

●  Ethical Considerations: Healthcare providers must treat patients with dignity and respect. Additionally, they must provide care without discrimination due to race, gender, or other factors. Compliance addresses ethical considerations in healthcare, ensuring equal access to healthcare services. 

To provide safe, respectful, and quality patient care, healthcare organizations must be in compliance with all established guidelines. An effective vendor management system will locate qualified professionals for open staffing positions, and thoroughly vet each candidate. Requirements can be set based on a specific position or location to help a VMS find qualified candidates, and further candidate vetting ensures hospitals and other healthcare organizations maintain compliance.

Vendor Neutrality

Neutrality is an important consideration when choosing a VMS for your healthcare organization. If a VMS is owned by a staffing agency then it would be considered a managed service provider (MSP), and its overall design and functionality will be driven by the financial objectives of the owners. The goal of a typical MSP is to fill as many of the staffing needs as it can directly in order to leverage its client and vendor relationships.   Staffing agencies (vendors) are typically reluctant to engage with many MSP’s but are usually forced to do so to increase their business revenues.  Some healthcare organizations don’t fully understand the most common MSP objectives and may engage too quickly out of desperation to immediately supplement their staffing needs with any healthcare workers that the MSP may have readily available.  This can be costly and may not align with the overall finical goals of the healthcare organization and can ultimately impact the continuity of healthcare services.  

Vendor neutrality attracts staffing agencies nationwide to participate in VMS programs.  This type of level playing field incentivizes staffing agencies to fill positions without fear of having their candidates solicited by a competitor such as an MSP. Ultimately the recruitment results for the healthcare organizations will improve significantly and the administrative burdens will decrease through streamlined communications with the vendor-neutral VMS.  When a VMS is truly vendor-neutral, there is no hidden agenda and no conflict with potential candidate solicitation which encourages vendor participation and expands client access to high-quality healthcare services.

Management Solution is not a staffing agency and is vendor-neutral. We have extensive staffing experience, which puts us in a unique position. With our staffing industry experience, established industry affiliations, and strong negotiation skills, we help healthcare organizations create cost-effective contingent workforce programs.

Reporting Capabilities

Healthcare organizations must make decisions with the information available to them. For effective and efficient operation, healthcare systems need to understand what they spend money on and when money is spent. Without access to this data, it is hard to make sound decisions. Before choosing a VMS, you must know what type of data you need to make informed decisions.

Transparency and clear communication are critical factors in improving access to the labor supply and increasing the chance of finding qualified candidates quickly. A vendor management system should be able to provide an organization with all workforce data at any time. Providing real-time reporting and analytics allows healthcare organizations to carefully monitor the performance of their contingent workforce and ultimately, to make informed staffing decisions.

At Management Solution, we offer a full-service on- or off-site program to healthcare organizations. This allows our clients to consolidate and manage workforce development through a customizable web-based program. With increased access and the ability to view all workforce data, our clients can make informed decisions that benefit their organization.

Ready to get started? Contact Management Solution today to start talking solutions. 

Rising Bill Rates in Staffing Agencies

VMS programs help standardize, centralize, and streamline all aspects of the business relationship between staffing agencies and healthcare organizations that utilize their services. There are a number of costs associated with facilitating these relationships which are all included in the bill rate. Bill rates are hourly rates that healthcare organizations pay for every hour of work performed by the contingent workforce. These rates are negotiated between the VMS with the client and are determined according to the specific costs involved for a staffing agency to recruit and employ the contingent labor they provide.

Bill rates are paid only for hours worked by contingent workers and can fluctuate according to supply and demand. In times of great need when healthcare organizations urgently need contingent staff, bill rates will increase. Conversely, when demand for staff is lower, bill rates will decrease. Given the current shortage of healthcare workers and economic climate, bill rates are on the rise.

Types of Bill Rates

Simply stated, a bill rate is an hourly rate paid to staffing agencies for their employee’s work time.  Bill rates are the foundation of contingent workforce packages which determine how much money agencies have to work with on any given assignment.

Bill rates must account for costs that include:

  • Agency Internal Operational Costs
  • Advertising / Recruitment
  • Continued Administrative Support for Duration of Contract
  • Onboarding and Compliance Costs
  • Paid Sick Time
  • Professional/General Liability Insurance
  • Workers Compensation Insurance
  • Costs Related to Malpractice/Employment Litigation
  • Employment Taxes
  • Travel and lodging
  • Advance payroll funding

    A bill rate is not the same as a pay rate as many factors influence bill rates. The pay rate is what the healthcare worker will earn per hour worked. While it is often the largest cost, the pay rate is only one variable in determining the bill rate. There are three main types of bill rates: standardized, negotiated, and bid bill rates.

    Currently, the most common type of bill rate is the standardized bill rate. A standardized bill rate is a rate agreed upon by the staffing agency and the client. The second type of bill rate is the negotiated bill rate. Unlike standardized bill rates, negotiated bill rates are determined by the specific project. This type of bill rate is not currently very common but may be used in instances where a client seeks a specific skill set or specialty. Bid bill rates are the third major type of bill rate. While bid bill rates tend to be more common than negotiated rates, they are still not as widely used as standardized bill rates. A bid bill rate allows entities to submit bids for bill rates. This system is intended to help clients get the best price possible, however, that does not always mean the lowest bid rate. While a lower bill rate is more attractive, clients are often willing to pay more for candidates who fit the demands of the position.

    Understanding the bill rate means understanding the categories of pay rates within bill rates. These are important considerations for vendors, clients, and members of the contingent workforce. Significant bill rate categories include:

    • Standard Rates
    • Specialty Rates
    • Regular Time Worked Rates
    • Overtime Worked Rates
    • Blended Bill Rates
    • On Call Rates
    • Call Back Rates
    • Crisis Rates
    • Holiday Rates

    Why Bill Rates are Rising

    COVID-19 did not start the nursing shortage. The United States has experienced periodic nursing shortages since the 1990s, however, the current nursing shortage is reaching critical levels. According to a data study by the University of St. Augustine, “the United States is in the midst of a critical nursing shortage that is expected to continue through 2030.” With an increase in demand for nurses and a labor shortage, bill rates have escalated.

    Why is there such a critical labor shortage in the healthcare industry? Multiple factors are contributing to the current healthcare labor shortage. Some of the most influential factors include:

    • An Aging Population: According to the World Health Organization, one in six people in the world will be aged 60 or older by the year 2030. Additionally, 19% of people over the age of 55 have three or more chronic conditions according to the CDC. Longer lifespans and multiple chronic conditions greatly increase the demand for healthcare services.
    • An Aging Workforce: An aging population means more people are approaching retirement, and the healthcare industry is no exception. According to a 2020 article published by The Journal of Nursing Regulation, the median age of all registered nurses is 52. An aging workforce means fewer registered nurses are employed by healthcare systems, but also contributes to the current shortage of experienced and qualified nursing instructors. As nursing programs struggle to find qualified nursing educators, the number of students enrolling in programs is reduced.
    • Burnout: Age is not the only factor driving the mass retirement of healthcare professionals. One in five healthcare workers affected by the pandemic has quit their jobs. The mental and physical toll the COVID-19 pandemic took on healthcare workers was great and accelerated burnout among employees.
    • Working Conditions: Healthcare workers are increasingly citing working conditions as a reason to leave their jobs. Labor shortages often mean additional overtime and increased workloads and responsibilities.

    In addition to the critical shortage of healthcare workers, operating costs are up across many industries. Inflation drives up many costs related to running a business from overhead costs like building leases to pay rates for talented nurses and healthcare professionals. Bill rates can include many factors, some of which include:

    • Work Performed by VMS/MSP
    • Liability and Insurance Coverage
    • Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
    • Employee Onboarding
    • Pay Rate of Healthcare Professionals
    • Travel Reimbursement
    • Non-Taxed Per Diems
    • Non-Taxed Housing Stipends

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected number of open positions for registered nurses from 2019 through 2029 is 175,900 annually. As hospitals and other healthcare systems operate with negative margins, the prevalence of contracting with staffing agencies is forecasted to continue.

    While the bill rates have been rising, there has been a call for federal oversight of pricing policies among travel nursing agencies. During COVID, many hospitals experienced a plummet in profit levels. With the pay for travel nursing reaching an all-time high during the pandemic, The American Hospital Association (AHA) notified the Federal Trade Commission of concerns over potential price gouging. The AHA and other lawmakers have urged further federal investigation as bill rates continue to rise.

    With the number of factors influencing the bill rate, staffing agencies maintain that the included costs are increasing not due to price gouging, but to meet demand. Addressing the factors contributing to the nursing shortage is one of the most significant ways to maintain, or lower, bill rates.

    Benefits of Using VMS in a Candidate-Driven Labor Market

    According to a study published by St. Augustine University, “the United States is in the midst of a critical nursing shortage that is expected to continue through 2030.” With a labor shortage and an ever-increasing demand for healthcare services, healthcare staffing is currently in the midst of a candidate-driven market. Vendor management systems are poised in a unique position to facilitate expedient hiring, which is critical to obtaining a qualified and skilled workforce in a candidate-driven market.

    Administrative tasks related to maintaining a workforce require significant investments of time and money. This can lead to a drawn-out recruitment process during which qualified candidates lose interest. Hospitals and healthcare systems want skilled and qualified top talent. An efficient and timely recruitment and hiring process are necessary to attract quality candidates in a candidate-driven market. With the shortage expected to continue through 2030, the landscape of healthcare staffing has changed significantly. In a candidate-driven market, it is more important than ever to place candidates efficiently.

    What Created a Candidate-Driven Market?

    What Created a Candidate-Driven Market?

    A shrinking labor pool and an increase in demand for services have led to intense hiring competition among hospitals and other healthcare systems. The current nursing shortage began long before COVID, but the pandemic worsened the problem. In the aftermath of the pandemic, one in five healthcare workers has quit their jobs. Many healthcare employees who left their positions have also left the profession entirely.

    There is no single cause of the current labor shortage. Multiple factors influenced the healthcare professional shortage, including:

    • An Aging Population: The World Health Organization states that one in six people will be 60 or older by 2030. An aging population affects the labor market in two ways: increased demand for healthcare services and healthcare workers aging out of employment.
    • Excessive Turnover: Turnover rates increased significantly following the COVID-19 pandemic. Turnover not only affects the ability of healthcare organizations to provide care, but it also affects the remaining employees. As healthcare employees leave their jobs, the remaining workers experience higher patient loads and more responsibility – without a pay increase. This results in exhaustion and burnout, causing even higher turnover rates.
    • Lack of Nursing Educators: According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), “faculty shortages at nursing schools across the country are limiting student capacity at a time when the need for professional registered nurses continues to grow.” Between budget constraints, aging faculty members, and increased job competition, finding qualified nursing instructors is becoming increasingly difficult.

    Why Placing Candidates Quickly Matters

    To remain competitive in candidate-driven markets, speed is essential. Understanding why a quick hiring process is necessary can help you to identify candidates and fill positions with more qualified individuals quickly. An expedient hiring process is attractive to both businesses looking to hire and those seeking new employment opportunities. When faced with an extended hiring process, many candidates will choose to remain in their current position or move to another opportunity.

    In-demand candidates can afford to be more selective. This means you must act more quickly during the hiring process to attract and retain top talent. Not only do highly qualified candidates tend to make hiring decisions more quickly, but they also tend to view a fast hiring process favorably. To candidates, a lengthy hiring process can negatively impact the assessment of your corporate culture.

    In addition to attracting top talent, a swift hiring process can be fiscally beneficial. With a shrinking labor pool and an increased demand for skilled workers, candidates may often receive multiple bids. Extending an offer quickly can avoid a bidding war, allowing you to attract top talent at a lower salary cost.

    Why Placing Candidates Quickly Matters

    How a VMS can Help Healthcare Organizations Find Top Talent

    Finding the right talent in a timely fashion can be difficult. Hospitals and other healthcare systems have difficulty adapting to the growing demand for skilled and talented professionals. With a shrinking labor pool and time constraints due to other operational duties, finding the perfect candidate for placement is difficult. Fortunately, an experienced VMS can help. VMS’s innovative technology can streamline the entire recruitment and hiring process.

    There are several ways in which a VMS can help with expedient hiring, including:

    • Tracking Talent: When using a contingent workforce, it is expected that professionals will come and go. The right VMS will maintain meticulous records of the professionals they have placed, which can make it easier to rehire top talent. A VMS can automate tracking of candidates whose performance exceeds expectations, making it easier to rehire valuable individuals. This helps not only provide adequate staffing levels but also reduces the amount of time spent training and onboarding. Additionally, because all employees are tracked, you can eliminate candidates who are ineligible for rehire. Some employees attempt to return to positions by using different staffing agencies, and a VMS that tracks everything can identify this and automatically rule out those candidates.
    • Experienced Suppliers: Suppliers with more experience tend to do a better and more efficient job at finding the right candidates for open roles. When using a VMS to handle an extended workforce, you can reduce waiting times for locating candidates by specifying the exact skills each open role requires. Staffing suppliers use the guidelines from the VMS to streamline the hiring process.
    • Competitive Rates: The more administrative time it takes to find, hire, onboard, and subsequently offboard contingent workers, the higher the rate. Reducing time spent dealing with administrative tasks allows you to offer more competitive rates to attract top talent. With bill rates on the rise as a result of increased demand for talent, it can be hard to stay competitive. Working with a VMS to streamline and centralize the hiring process can help save money that can then be used to help offer more competitive rates.

    With a shortage of labor expected to remain through 2030, industry forecasts suggest a continued increase in demand for talent

    With a shortage of labor expected to remain through 2030, industry forecasts suggest a continued increase in demand for talent. Creating a contingent workforce is an efficient and cost-effective way to get the staff necessary for daily operations. A VMS can be an invaluable resource when building a contingent workforce. By streamlining the entire process, a VMS saves hospitals and other health systems a significant amount of money and time required to recruit top talent.

    In a candidate-driven market, the speed of the hiring and placement process is more important than ever. Working with a VMS can facilitate easy and efficient hiring, helping you build the workforce you need when you need it. At Management Solution, our vendor-neutral approach and experience managing contingent workforces help you get the top talent your healthcare system deserves. 

    Vendor Management and its Potential to Improve Mental Healthcare in Correctional Facilities

    Vendor Management and its Potential to Improve Mental Healthcare in Correctional Facilities

    mental health in correctional facilities

    According to the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI), “about two in five people who are incarcerated have a history of mental illness. This is twice the prevalence of mental illness within the overall adult population.” Mental illness disproportionately affects women inmates, with nearly 66% of women reporting a history of mental illness, which is nearly double the percentage of men.

    With a constitutional obligation to provide both mental and physical healthcare to those housed in correctional facilities, the burden of providing treatment is something many facilities struggle with. Due to increasingly tightening budgets, larger populations, and an overall shortage of psychiatric and mental healthcare providers, adequate mental healthcare in correctional facilities is challenging.

    Prevalence of Mental Illness in Correctional Facilities

    According to an article in The Guardian on the role of mental health care in correctional facilities, “correctional facilities are struggling with the reality that they have become the nation’s de facto mental healthcare providers.” While the number of psychiatric hospitals and residential treatment centers has continued to decline over the last few decades, the prevalence of mental illness among the population has continued to climb. 

    Currently, the country’s largest providers of psychiatric care are not hospitals, but correctional facilities. Without adequate access to mental healthcare, it is arguably too common for someone dealing with a mental illness to end up in a correctional facility. In fact, in a report from the National Institute of Corrections, “the number of individuals with serious mental illness in prisons and jails now exceeds the number in state psychiatric hospitals tenfold.” This places the burden of treatment on the jails and prisons, many of which are unequipped to handle the mental health needs of inmates.

    With the right to treatment affirmed by the United States Supreme Court, correctional facilities must provide care to those with mental illness. As budgets continue to tighten and correctional facilities are forced to stretch resources further than ever before, providing adequate psychiatric care is challenging. The National Alliance on Mental Health affirms that incarcerated people have constitutional rights to both medical and mental health care yet “nearly two-thirds of people with mental illness in jails and prisons do not receive mental health treatment.”

    In addition to providing basic treatment and medications, incarcerated people could benefit greatly from supportive programs and therapies. With the ultimate goal being to rehabilitate incarcerated people and move them back into their communities, proper treatment of mental illness is crucial. 

    Prevalence of Mental Illness in Correctional Facilities
    correctional facilities are struggling with the reality that they have become the nation’s de facto mental healthcare providers
    Currently, the country’s largest providers of psychiatric care are not hospitals, but correctional facilities.




    Vendor Management in Correctional Facilities

    Without significant regulatory changes, the burden placed on correctional facilities to provide mental health care at the level needed is immense. One way that correctional facilities can provide psychiatric care with limited resources is through the use of vendor management. 

    Vendor management and a contingency workforce can be invaluable in terms of providing immediate care to those housed in correctional facilities. An important need regarding mental health care is a diagnosis, particularly in correctional facilities. With people living in such close quarters, identifying cases of mental illness where a person may pose a threat to themselves or others is of immediate concern. Some correctional facilities are large enough to warrant designated mental health units, specifically for housing those who may pose a threat to themselves or others. However, while some facilities have mental health units, they often struggle with being able to afford permanent full-time providers who can identify and diagnose cases at the onset of incarceration.

    In this instance, temporary help can be a cost-effective method of ensuring the safety of those living and working in correctional facilities.  A locum mental health care provider could review cases before or during the intake process, before placement to identify instances in which an inmate may pose a threat to themselves or others without immediate intervention. While this is important in any facility, it can be especially beneficial in areas where the population of both the correctional facility and the local community does not have access to full-time psychiatric services.

    Alternative Mental Health Treatment 

    Like most healthcare providers, correctional facilities face tight budgets and increasing demand for services. The healthcare landscape is constantly evolving as providers struggle to meet demand with the resources they have available. With the COVID-19 pandemic, innovative telehealth became a more mainstream medical and mental healthcare tool. 

    The use of technology through telepsychiatry can broaden access to mental healthcare in correctional facilities. Solutions that utilize healthcare technology, like telepsychiatry, are more than convenient, they can also help mitigate cost barriers to treatment. Transportation, of both inmates and providers, can affect access to treatment and telepsychiatry can virtually eliminate those costs. 

    In addition to mitigating costs, telepsychiatry can be a safer method of treatment for providers. Feeling safe is imperative for providers to offer effective treatment, and telepsychiatry can increase the level of comfort of both the inmate and healthcare providers.  

    When considering mental healthcare and correctional facilities, it is clear that significant regulatory changes must happen. However, until regulations and guidelines broaden access to and budget for mental healthcare, using vendor management systems can be an efficient and affordable way to provide mental health services in correctional facilities.

    Understanding the Current Nursing Shortage: Causes and Possible Solutions


    Understanding the Current Nursing Shortage: Causes and Possible Solutions

    “Nurses are the largest component of the healthcare workforce, according to the United States Government Accountability Office. They provide much of the care for hospital patients and deliver most of the nation’s long-term care.” Nurses play a crucial role in healthcare, making the current nursing shortage a major challenge for the entire healthcare industry.

    What’s causing the nursing shortage? are among the current top causes of the current nursing shortage?

    • Limited Access to Education
    • An Aging Population
    • An Aging Workforce
    • Burnout Following COVID

    According to a recent McKinsey survey, 22% of nurses indicate that they may leave their current direct patient care position within the next year. With a diminishing supply of nurses and an ever-increasing demand for patient care, health systems and other entities that employ nurses are actively working through challenges to develop new strategies that attract and retain skilled nurses. To end the nursing shortage, it is imperative to understand and address the underlying causes of the crisis.

    Nurses are the largest component of the healthcare workforce, according to the United States Government Accountability Office

    An Aging Population

    The World Health Organization notes that by the year 2030, one in six people in the world will be age 60 or older. To that end, the U.S. Census Bureau notes that by the year 2030, every member of the baby-boom generation – over 70 million people – will be age 65 or older.

    An aging population creates an increase in demand for healthcare. Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlights a challenge for healthcare providers in caring for aging populations. The CDC states that 19% of people over the age of 55 have three or more chronic conditions. With people living longer lives, the aging population greatly contributes to the demand for qualified healthcare professionals, especially nurses.

    Today, and looking into the future, more patients require acute and chronic care management. With longer lifespans, many individuals living with chronic conditions and comorbidities will require long-term care from skilled and qualified nurses.

    Aging Workforce: Nurses Nearing Retirement

    Not only is an aging population contributing to the nursing shortage, but an aging workforce is a significant factor as well. A significant percentage of the population is nearing retirement and that includes those working in healthcare. The median age of registered nurses is 52, according to a 2020 article published by The Journal of Nursing Regulation. With a median age of over 50, within the next decade, many nurses will exit the workforce, and there will be a surge in demand for nurses to replace those leaving the profession.

    Additionally, as nurses leave the profession, many schools find themselves in need of capable teachers. Without appropriate staffing levels, academic facilities are struggling to provide the education and training required to properly prepare new nurses entering the workforce.

    Burnout and Increased Turnover Among Nurses

    While age is a factor considered in the current nurse exodus, the COVID-19 pandemic hastened the retirement of many nurses across the country due in large part to stress and burnout. Nursing is difficult both physically and mentally, and the COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated these issues. Stress, causing a toll on the mental health of nurses, and overall burnout among nurses are major contributing factors to nurses choosing to leave staff positions in favor of contract/travel nursing.

    According to a poll published by Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation, “roughly three in 10 healthcare workers have weighed leaving their profession. More than half are burned out. And about six in 10 say stress from the pandemic has harmed their mental health.” A significant shortage of nursing professionals results in a higher patient-to-nurse ratio.

    A heavier patient load combined with other administrative duties and other daily tasks leads nurses to burn out more quickly.

    What is Being Done About the Shortage?

    Fixing the nursing shortage is neither simple nor straightforward and includes addressing multiple factors. To curtail the shortage, changes ranging from additional educational resources to healthcare systems creating conditions that drastically reduce turnover are necessary.

    Currently, federal and state governments are working to address the shortage and attract and retain nurses. The CARES Act provided additional funding and support for underserved areas through training and educational financial aid for nurses working in areas with a critical shortage as identified by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

    Beyond the CARES Act, the government is providing financial assistance to those considering nursing school. Currently, the Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program repays up to 85% of educational loans for nurses who work in qualifying facilities and areas with a critical shortage of nurses.

    To curtail the shortage, changes ranging from additional educational resources to healthcare systems creating conditions that drastically reduce turnover are necessary.

    How Healthcare Systems Can Move Forward

    The solutions to end the nursing shortage are complex. The pandemic challenged the healthcare industry to confront the resultant shortcomings, especially where workforce management is concerned. Through understanding the shortage and the conditions that caused it, health systems will be able to move forward with a realistic plan that improves working conditions for nurses while making education and training more accessible.

    If healthcare systems want nurses to remain in the profession and attract new nurses, facilities must find new ways of managing their workforce. One way to do so is to embrace emerging technologies. The pandemic saw record numbers of telehealth visits, but there are other technologies available that can reduce the strain on nursing staff. Artificial intelligence was used pre-pandemic in the form of nursing robots. Diligent Robotics, an Austin-based company, designed Moxi, a robot developed to perform duties for nurses that require high levels of precision but not patient interaction. Andrea Thomaz, founder of Digital Robotics, says, “We’re We’re helping them augment their staff.” By using available technology to automate tasks that do not require patient interaction, nurses can spend more time dedicated to direct patient care duties.

    Another way healthcare agencies are changing their workforce management is by embracing the gig economy. Giving nurses the flexibility and freedom to choose which shifts they work and how often they work overtime can help nurses manage their well-being and mental health. Flexible scheduling and a better work/life balance are among the top requests from nurses feeling stressed and burned out.

    The nursing shortage is predicted to last through 2030, making it crucial for healthcare systems to adopt new methods of workforce management. An increase in the accessibility of education, particularly at the graduate level, as well as embracing new technologies that provide support for nurses will be critical in maintaining a strong workforce and retaining qualified candidates.

    Three Healthcare Recruiting Trends for 2022


    Three Healthcare Recruiting Trends for 2022

    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Employment in healthcare occupations is projected to grow 16 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations, adding about 2.6 million new jobs.” With an ongoing provider shortage, a tightening labor market, and increased demand for healthcare services, healthcare systems are facing a number of challenges both in 2022 and beyond.

    Almost two years after the start of the pandemic, the healthcare industry is still grappling with many of the problems it faced prior to the beginning of the pandemic. The current year will see a number of trends designed to remedy some of the current problems in the system, while also maintaining staff to provide quality patient care and maintaining profitability. Below, find three healthcare industry trends expected for the year 2022.

    Increased Use of Technology and Telehealth Services

    “Virtual care has been a gamechanger for patients, especially during the pandemic,” says the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary, Xavier Beccera. During the pandemic, the use of telehealth services was at record numbers. As many areas of life return to pre-pandemic levels of operation, the healthcare industry has slowed down its use of telehealth services, but the technology has not been abandoned and remains a valuable tool for many healthcare systems.

    In fact, the HHS recently awarded nearly $55 million to 29 Health Resource and Services Administration-funded centers to “Increase health care access and quality for underserved populations through virtual care such as telehealth, remote patient monitoring, digital patient tools, and health information technology platforms.”

    While telehealth is a cost-effective method of providing care, particularly for areas facing severe shortages of mental health care providers, technology, in general, is necessary for the day-to-day functioning of many healthcare systems.

    The use of automation and artificial intelligence software is on the rise not only among providers but also among healthcare recruiters. Healthcare recruiters are able to expand search parameters for employees when using technology and remote correspondence during the process. Additionally, sourcing, screening, scheduling, and conducting initial interviews with candidates is a more efficient process through the use of technology.


    Reviewing What Candidates Want

    In the last two years, what candidates expect of employers has shifted significantly and workers are expecting more from healthcare organizations. While increased salaries are one of the most common expectations among potential candidates, there are a number of other benefits candidates desire. In order to attract top talent in a shrinking labor pool, healthcare organizations must listen to current employees and look at what potential candidates want.

    As candidates become more educated about their market value, healthcare organizations would do well to take advantage of the opportunity to listen to employees and candidates alike about what they truly want. While increased salaries are certainly being negotiated, it is not always about more money and the traditional benefits employers offer.

    The pandemic highlighted and aggravated physician, nurse, and other healthcare worker burnout. In light of this, many employees have voiced their desires for some more non-traditional benefits. Flexibility in scheduling can be a major selling point for some healthcare organizations. Employees are looking for more of a work-life balance, and providing flexible scheduling may help attract talent without raising costs significantly.

    Use of Vendor Management Systems

    Recruiting top talent is a time-consuming venture, and in the year 2022, it is only going to be more labor-intensive. With an excessive amount of vacancies to fill and a shrinking talent pool, the time it takes to find qualified and talented professionals will only increase. A more efficient route that healthcare organizations are expected to embrace is the use of vendor management systems to fulfill staffing needs.

    Using vendor management systems is an efficient way to recruit talent to your organization. At Management Solution, LLC., we can streamline the entire recruiting process and significantly reduce the amount of time your organization spends on hiring. Additionally, we take the time to thoroughly vet candidates and ensure that they are properly credentialed, experienced, and competent. With our services, you can save administrative time and leverage the efficiencies of vendor-neutral solutions. Management Solution does not compete with its vendors by hiring registry providers.

    Another benefit of using vendor management systems is the ability to have contingency staff. As the pandemic highlighted, unanticipated labor needs arise from time to time. With contingency staffing, your organization will always have the workforce it needs without having to incur unnecessary costs.

    Retaining and recruiting staff, using technology to maximize efficiency, and returning to pre-pandemic workflow are just some of the considerations facing the healthcare industry this year. As finding qualified professionals becomes a struggle, many organizations can benefit from the help and experience of trusted vendor management systems. For more information on vendor management and how it can improve your healthcare organization, reach out to us at 1-855-502-3600.

    Vendor Management Systems

    Travel Nursing in the Aftermath of the COVID-19 Pandemic


    Travel Nursing in the Aftermath of the COVID-19 Pandemic

    Healthcare leaders were concerned with nursing shortages long before the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections 2019-2029, registered nursing is one of the top occupations in terms of job growth through 2029. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects about 175,900 openings for RNs annually from 2019 through 2029 when retirements and workforce exits are factored into the number of nurses needed.

    While the shortage of nurses loomed before the pandemic, COVID-19 and its impact on the healthcare system exacerbated the problem. Hospitals operating with negative margins are unable or unwilling to increase staff nurse wages, and when coupled with constant turnover and burnout, the nursing shortage shows no signs of slowing. Some nurses have chosen to leave the profession entirely, but others have decided to leave traditional employment and choose travel nursing due to its temporary nature and comparatively high wages.

    What is a Travel Nurse

    What is Travel Nursing?

    Travel nurses are registered nurses who take short-term roles in healthcare settings ranging from hospitals to family clinics. Travel nurses help healthcare systems continue to provide quality patient care in areas where there are nursing shortages. One of the primary reasons staff nurses are leaving their positions in favor of travel nursing is the pay.

    Typically, staff nurses in a hospital setting receive a set salary commensurate with their levels of education and experience, and their salaries generally factor in any benefits packages offered with the position. Travel nurse salaries are quite different, and at the moment, much pay much more than their staff counterparts. In part, this is because travel nurse salaries are “a bit of a gray area,” according to Pay packages for travel nurses have several components, some of which include hourly pay, non-taxed housing stipends, non-taxed per diems, and travel reimbursements.

    Currently, the pay for travel nurses is at a high. According to a recent article in Time magazine, the current rate of pay for contract travel nurses is often two to four times higher than what the same staff positions earn.

    Travel Nursing and Turnover

    Nursing turnover has increased exponentially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Burnout is one of the most common reasons for nurses to leave positions. The work registered nurses do is difficult and has very real demands physically, mentally, and emotionally.

    Contract travel nursing becomes a very attractive option for nurses who wish to continue in the profession but are looking to avoid burnout. Per the Time magazine article, the rapid turnover of nurses into contract nursing “has triggered a costly feedback loop: hospital administrators, facing shortages in staff nurses, spend a mint hiring contract nurses, which makes them less able or willing to increase their staff nurses’ pay.” Without the potential to earn higher salaries, more staff nurses quit their positions to become contract nurses which further lowers the supply of nurses and increases the demand for travel nurses.

    Travel Nursing and the Healthcare System

    With the increased demand for contract nurses, contracting nursing agencies have continued to raise their prices. The Time article notes that “the advertised pay rate for travel nurses has surged 67% from January 2020 to January 2022, according to Prolucent Health.” Other staffing agencies reported to Time that “pay rates for travel nurses at facilities they work with rose by 164% from the fourth quarter of 2019 to the fourth quarter of 2021.”

    This jump in pay results in significant profits for travel nurse staffing agencies, prompting some hospital administrators and lawmakers to ask Congress to step in. During COVID, many hospital administrators experienced a severe dwindling in profits and are now arguing that nursing staff agencies are exploiting the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. The American Hospital Association (AHA) notified the Federal Trade Commission of their concerns over the potential price gouging as far back as January of 2021. Recently, the AHA and other lawmakers have urged further federal intervention as travel nursing costs continue to rise.

    While hospital administrators are arguing that staffing agencies are exploiting the pandemic, staffing agencies maintain that healthcare facilities are paying higher prices simply due to an increase in demand. At the same time, nurses argue that the staffing shortage crisis could have been avoided in the first place had administrators improved working conditions and paid staff nurses better from the start.

    Where do healthcare systems go from here?

    The answer is not simple. While it is easy to suggest that healthcare administrators simply improve working conditions and raise salaries for staff nurses, in practice, this can be very difficult to achieve. As noted by the AHA in a report from September of 2021, many hospitals are experiencing negative margins in the wake of the COVID pandemic. The projected loss for hospitals nationwide is “an estimated $54 billion in net income over the course of the year, even taking into account federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding from last year.”

    Still, even with the challenges facing them, many hospitals and healthcare systems are attempting to increase pay for staff nurses. Additionally, hospitals are looking at how else they can entice staff to remain in their positions with some healthcare systems offering flexible scheduling for a better work/life balance and counseling services to tend to staff’s mental health. While the current staff nursing shortage does not appear to be eliminated anytime soon, healthcare systems are working to improve working conditions and pay to maintain current staff nursing positions. 

    Cost-Effective Recruiting Techniques


    Cost-Effective Recruiting Techniques

    Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, maintaining sufficient staffing levels to produce high-quality and consistent patient care was something that left many healthcare systems concerned about their bottom line. With the ever-rising shortage of providers and nursing salaries that continue to rise, it may feel virtually impossible to cut staffing costs while continuing to maintain satisfactory levels of patient care. 

    While the challenges facing those charged with staffing healthcare systems are great, there are ways to reduce staffing costs without compromising patient care. Several methods that can help healthcare systems continue to provide care to patients while reducing staffing costs include:

    • Reducing Turnover Rate
    • Reducing Overtime Work
    • Use Vendor Management Systems

    Reduce Employee Turnover

    Not only does turnover impact patient care, but it also has a direct impact on the bottom line of a healthcare system. In 2021, NSI Nursing Solutions Inc. surveyed more than 3,000 hospitals regarding staffing and RN retention rates. According to the findings published in an annual report, hospitals experienced an 18.7% turnover rate for registered nurses, which is an increase of 2.8% over the previous year. 

    As the NSI Nursing Solutions Inc. report notes, “the cost of turnover can have a profound impact on diminishing hospital margins and needs to be managed.” Onboarding new employees not only is costly but also requires time that could better be utilized for patient care or other tasks. Therefore, retaining competent staff becomes an important strategy to reducing overall staffing costs. To boost employee retention it’s important for healthcare systems to begin with a comprehensive and thorough hiring process. This process needs to:

    • Identify the specific qualities desired of the candidates
    • Develop an effective recruitment plan
    • Use interview best practices to help identify candidates who meet desired qualities

    Once employees have been hired, it’s important to keep them. In healthcare, one of the biggest challenges for employee retention is combatting employee burnout. This is a challenge that has only increased with the COVID-19 pandemic. Nurses often cite issues like lack of life/work balance, poor organizational culture, and increased demand for administrative tasks as reasons for fatigue and burnout.

    To effectively maintain staff and reduce turnover rate, it’s important to implement strategies designed to help your employees cope with work-related stressors. Keeping communication between management and staff open regarding workplace challenges, problems, changes, or opportunities is crucial in staff retention. Other strategies could include things such as more flexible scheduling, career development support, and a workplace that focuses on continuing education for staff.

    Reduce Overtime Work

    According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) set forth by the U.S. Department of Labor, “…unless exempt, employees covered by the Act must receive overtime pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek at a rate not less than time and one-half their regular rates of pay.” HealthAffrais, a peer-reviewed journal, published an article that reviewed logbooks from nearly 400 hospitals. Out of 5,317 logged work shifts, 40% went over 12 hours. 

    Not only does overtime work cost more in wages, but it also significantly increases employee burnout rate and the likelihood that mistakes are made during care. Monitoring employee time and overtime closely can be an effective way to identify opportunities for scheduling more efficiently. 

    Institutions looking to reduce overtime can do so by using digital timesheets to track staff time, putting a cap on hours worked and using overtime rotations. Some software will provide management with an automatic notice when an employee has exceeded their hours, helping to identify issues immediately. If changes are made to the overtime policy, it is imperative to communicate all changes to staff. Lastly, an overtime rotation can be a way to help all employees take advantage of extra pay without burnout from constantly having to work additional hours.

    Use Vendor Management Systems

    Unfortunately, the trend of provider shortages is expected to increase for the foreseeable future. With shortages, it can be difficult to independently maintain adequate staffing levels. Turning to vendor management systems can be an incredibly cost-effective way to keep positions filled and ensure proper patient care. 

    In healthcare systems, particularly given the current level of provider shortages, temporary employees are often required. At VMS Solution, we offer a number of advantages for our clients. With a vendor-neutral vendor management system, temporary healthcare staffing becomes an easier and more efficient process. VMS Solution simplifies healthcare staffing for multiple healthcare systems and ensures patients receive high-quality, consistent care by streamlining the workflow and workforce.

    Maintaining the standard of patient care and saving money on staffing is not an easy task, but one that is manageable with the right resources. Through technology, such as digital timesheet software, vendor management systems, and a focus on employee retention, it is possible to give patients the care they deserve without negatively affecting your bottom line.

    Challenges Facing Correctional Healthcare Recruiters


    Challenges Facing Correctional Healthcare Recruiters

    According to Community Oriented Correctional Health Services, jails receive 13 million admissions each year, and “many of these individuals experience serious medical and mental health problems. Half of jail inmates and prisoners have a chronic health condition. Nearly two-thirds of jail inmates meet clinical criteria for substance abuse or dependence, and more than 40 percent have a history of a mental health problem.” Coupled with the fact that incarceration exacerbates mental health issues for many, the importance of quality correctional healthcare cannot be underestimated.

    The National Institute of Corrections continues, saying “many health problems that plague our society plague the corrections industry at an even greater rate; increasing demand for healthcare services for the mentally ill, substance abuse, suicide prevention, and care for the elderly to name a few are placing greater demands on an already overworked system.”

    With the correctional industry in dire need of healthcare professionals, an examination of the challenges facing correctional healthcare recruiters and employees is necessary. Below, take a look at what specific challenges recruiters face when staffing healthcare professionals in a correctional facility, and what can be done to mitigate the issue.

    What Positions are Needed in Correctional Healthcare?

    As the National Institute of Corrections mentions, health problems that occur in society are the same health problems that occur in correctional institutions. For this reason, correctional healthcare requires multidisciplinary teams of individuals.

    California Correctional Health Services (CCHCS) is an organization whose mission, according to their website, provides correctional healthcare that includes medical, dental, and mental health services to all of California’s incarcerated individuals statewide.

    Like every other correctional healthcare system in the country, the goal of all healthcare professionals working with the CCHCS as stated on the organization’s website is to “enhance public safety and promote successful community reintegration through education, treatment, and active participation in rehabilitative and restorative justice programs.”

    Correctional healthcare systems require a large network of nurses, primary care providers, dentists, mental health professionals, medical assistants, and other staff required in any other healthcare setting.

    Why is it Hard to Find Correctional Healthcare Recruiters?

    As many recruiters know, finding qualified and willing healthcare workers for placement in the correctional healthcare system is not an easy task. Many factors influence this difficulty, perhaps not least is the stigma associated with the correctional industry.

    • Personal Factors: Aside from the potential stigma attached to the correctional industry, one of the most frequent concerns healthcare workers express regarding working in the correctional industry is a fear for their safety. Caring for individuals who may be mentally ill, violent, or have substance use problems can be difficult in any setting, but the fear for safety is increased when these individuals are already incarcerated.
    • Location Factors: In many areas of the country, correctional institutions are located in more remote areas. If a significant commute is required for daily work, it can be a deterrent to attracting talent.
    • Economical Factors: It would be great for recruiters if the answer to these challenges was a simple increase in wages. However, many systems in the correctional industry are severely limited by budgetary constraints. As funding for correctional institutions decreases, so does the allocated budget for healthcare professionals. With provider shortages in many disciplines across the nation, specifically mental health, and the availability of positions in more desirable settings (urban areas with greater infrastructure than many of the remote locations where institutions are located) finding qualified professionals for correctional healthcare becomes increasingly difficult.

    How Can Recruiters Attract Correctional Healthcare Candidates?

    According to the National Institute of Corrections, multiple organizations are working to improve correctional healthcare and the positions available within these systems.

    The National Commission on Correctional Health Care is one such organization. As stated on the NCCHC website, this organization’s mission “is to improve the quality of health care in jails, prisons, and juvenile confinement facilities.” To achieve this, the NCCHC establishes standards for health services, conducts educational conferences, and offers certifications for correctional health professionals. Health, mental health, law, and corrections all have major national organizations working with the NCCHC “to create a robust, multidisciplinary governing structure that reflects the complexities of correctional healthcare.”

    Organizations like the NCCHC and the Community Oriented Correctional Health Services can be helpful resources in attracting talent to correctional healthcare. Previous measures like increasing salaries for correctional healthcare workers were met with success, but there must be more.

    One of the most effective tools a recruiter can use is education. It’s important for prospective correctional healthcare workers to fully understand the position and environment for which they are applying. There are a number of resources available for educational purposes and working with the greater healthcare community is an invaluable tool when it comes to correctional healthcare placement.

    While correctional healthcare is a challenging vocation, it’s also one that is incredibly rewarding for dedicated workers. Personal satisfaction in helping those who desperately need it is just one of the benefits correctional healthcare workers receive from their positions. In addition to being a satisfying career that gives individuals a strong sense of purpose, correctional healthcare can be very financially rewarding for registry workers.

    Addressing the Shortage of Mental Health Care Providers


    Addressing the Shortage of Mental Health Care Providers

    Following a tumultuous few years living with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, more people living in the United States are seeking mental health care than ever. Whether the pandemic exacerbated underlying mental health conditions or brought on new symptoms, the fact is that the nation is in dire need of mental health services. In fact, the United States Census Bureau reports that 30% of adults in the country have symptoms consistent with a depression or anxiety diagnosis.

    How Many People are Affected by the Mental Health Care Provider Shortage?

    According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, 135 million people in the U.S. are living in areas with a shortage of mental health care providers. Primarily rural areas are affected, though there are a number of states, including California, with shortages in suburban and urban areas.

    Regarding sections of the population that are struggling with the shortage of mental health care providers, the most greatly affected individuals are those with substance use disorders.

    What are Widespread Effects of the Mental Health Care Provider Shortage?

    Beyond the fact that people who are unable to receive treatment must deal with the consequences of mental illness, the disease burden of mental health and substance use disorders is high. In 2015, the Journal of the American Medical Association noted that the disease burden of mental health and substance use disorders was higher than any other medical condition.

    Anna Ratzliff, MD, PhD, and associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Washington School of Medicine explains why a provider shortage is detrimental to not only those who need treatment but to entire communities. “Our whole society is affected by untreated mental illness. It affects people’s ability to work, build relationships, and contribute to their communities.”

    What is the Future of Mental Health Care in the United States?

    While age is a factor considered in the current nurse exodus, the COVID-19 pandemic hastened the retirement of many nurses across the country due in large part to stress and burnout. Nursing is difficult both physically and mentally, and the COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated these issues. Stress, causing a toll on the mental health of nurses, and overall burnout among nurses are major contributing factors to nurses choosing to leave staff positions in favor of contract/travel nursing.

    According to a poll published by Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation, “roughly three in 10 healthcare workers have weighed leaving their profession. More than half are burned out. And about six in 10 say stress from the pandemic has harmed their mental health.” A significant shortage of nursing professionals results in a higher patient-to-nurse ratio.

    A heavier patient load combined with other administrative duties and other daily tasks leads nurses to burn out more quickly.

    What is Being Done About the Shortage?

    California, like so many states, is struggling to provide the required resources for those seeking mental health care. Unfortunately, according to the National Council for Behavioral Health, the shortage is only expected to increase through the year 2025.

    What can be Done?

    One way that the healthcare industry has started to address the shortage is to aggressively recruit talent. Providing a strong culture of mentoring, UNMC has had great success in increasing the number of students who choose psychiatry. Since 2013, the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) has more than doubled the number of students choosing psychiatry. The school has been able to do this by providing exceptional education and high-quality medical school psychiatry clinical rotation.

    In addition to recruiting students, the National Council for Wellbeing published a report encouraging the use of technology in mental health care. During the pandemic, many providers began offering telehealth services, allowing patients to receive treatment from their homes via video calls. This increased access for many people living in the United States and could be a beneficial tool for providers.

    Another way that the National Council for Wellbeing suggests increasing access to mental health services is to make use of text messaging and apps, as timely service is crucial to patients in need. Open access scheduling is also a recommendation. Open access scheduling covers a variety of scheduling techniques including keeping a certain number of appointments open and creating blocks of time that are completely unscheduled.

    The mental health crisis shows no signs of slowing down, and the shortage of providers is projected to grow. What are some ways your practice is attempting to address the provider shortage? What emerging technologies do you think would be beneficial in increasing access to mental health services.