orm_february-2024 - 10

TECHNOLOGY
Supporting healthcare staff with on-demand staffing solutions
BY CRAIG ALLAN AHRENS
ealthcare systems worldwide, regardless
of their size or market,
are facing the same challenge:
how to meet the growing demand for
qualified staff without straining hospital
budgets. According to a report by the
American Hospital Association, health
systems are experiencing a significant
workforce turnover that began in 2016.
On average, approximately 90% of
health systems' overall staff and 83%
of their RN workforce have transitioned
to new positions. Combine that with the
reality that surgical volume is increasing
nationwide, and the need for perioperative
nurses and surgical techs continues
to grow. Health systems are at a
tipping point when it comes to workforce
staffing ratios, especially in specialized
areas such as the OR.
Years of pandemic-era labor costs,
expensive contract labor, and difficulties
in recruiting and retaining talent
are prompting health system leaders
to seek alternative staffing solutions.
In a survey of 130 hospital executives
across the United States, 98% of them
reported either already using or considering
alternative staffing models.
On-demand labor supporting
surgical teams
Alternative staffing models, like on-demand
labor platforms, provide flexible
and efficient solutions for staffing shortages,
optimize resource allocation, and
improve patient care in healthcare systems.
The
urgency for skilled healthcare
professionals becomes particularly evident
with surgical teams. The skill level
and consistency within these teams
are paramount, especially in the highpressure
environment of the OR, where
specialized teams collaborate under
time constraints to deliver top-tier patient
care and ensure surgical safety.
As hospital systems have come to
rely on contract labor to meet staffing
quotas, it has opened the revolving door
of the OR to inconsistency and learning
10
OR Manager | February 2024
H
curves. According to a recent poll, 45%
of healthcare executives expressed concerns
about the potentially disruptive effect
of travel nurses on company culture
and internal staff dynamics. While travel
nurses have proven effective in specific
situations, their integration into established
teams can sometimes pose challenges
when it comes to coordination
and teamwork.
Retention, support for surgical
teams
This is where on-demand staffing solutions
come into play as a possible way
out of the staffing problem. On-demand
staffing taps into the local workforce
and provides health systems with flexibility,
agility, and a bridge to long-term
staffing solutions.
The OR is where precision reigns
supreme, and any hiccup in the process
can have consequences. Surgical
teams operate best when there is
consistency and familiarity-when each
member knows their role, understands
the nuances of their colleagues' work,
and communicates seamlessly. It is a
high-stress environment that has no
room for error. Research shows that
familiarity among team members reduces
operative time. A retrospective
analysis of more than 4,000 knee replacement
procedures across 1,163
surgical teams determined the least
familiar teams had nearly 40 more minutes
of operative time than teams who
had worked together at least 10 times.
The perioperative nursing and surgical
tech ranks have taken a hit in recent
years, due to a combination of experienced
nurses retiring and the fact that
many education programs do not emphasize
these curriculums. The Association
of Surgical Technologists estimates
that the amount of certified surgical
technologists entering the workforce
decreases by hundreds each year. Staff
shortages, particularly among specialized
healthcare providers like perioperative,
medical-surgical, and recovery
nurses, have left ORs struggling to ensure
adequate staffing for every surgical
procedure, impacting patient care and
operational efficiency.
It can be especially challenging for
travel nurses to assimilate into these
team-oriented environments. In fact,
when surveyed, 66% of healthcare executives
expressed concerns about
the costs associated with training and
maintaining travel nurses. This strain
highlights the urgency for healthcare
systems to explore alternative staffing
approaches, particularly in the highstress
environment of the OR.
Healthcare systems are increasingly
turning to on-demand staffing solutions,
which provide the flexibility to maintain
specialized nurses within their dedicated
teams rather than pulling them
into general care. Alternatively, systems
can leverage on-demand labor nurses
who hold credentials in specialized
areas, ensuring that resources are allocated
optimally and expertise is readily
available where it's most needed.
Role of flexible, on-demand
staffing
With the growing need for flexible workers
and adaptable staffing solutions,
W-2 healthcare workforce marketplaces
are changing the way healthcare organizations
connect with local nursing professionals.
These platforms simplify the
process by allowing organizations to
post available shifts for local, credentialed
nurses to claim.
Additionally, on-demand labor marketplaces
utilize a partnership approach,
which streamlines workforce
management. They take care of employment
concerns such as credential verification
and payroll taxes, ensuring that
healthcare organizations remain secure
and compliant.
W-2 healthcare workforce marketplaces
not only recruit, onboard, and
manage nursing professionals but also
help to stabilize rates in the market.
They facilitate smooth transitions from
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