4 top trends from the 2021 Healthcare Staffing Summit

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Written by Alex Card

Last month, we had the pleasure of attending the 2021 Healthcare Staffing Summit in Boston.

Hosted by Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA), the summit gave us a welcome opportunity to meet peers and clients from across the healthcare and staffing industries, share updates about our platform and take a pulse on the leading trends and challenges at the forefront of healthcare staffing.

Our team had plenty of insightful conversations about the state of the industry, but we identified four particular topics occupying the minds of healthcare staffing’s top thought leaders: 
 

1. The market is growing—and so is M&A activity

SIA projects the healthcare staffing market will see 7% growth by the year’s end, pushing its total value to $21.3 billion.

Nationwide demand for travel nurses has soared, and those in certain specialties and regions may enjoy compensation rates exceeding $300 per hour. But as COVID-19 rates decline, some industry players anticipate a swing in favor of locum tenens personnel in 2022.

To enhance service offerings, large staffing organizations are increasingly turning to mergers and acquisitions, with 2021 transactions exceeding 2020’s as early as May.

Smaller organizations hoping to remain competitive will need to overcome their disadvantages in revenue and resources through rapid growth and innovation.

2. Innovation and growth are smaller players' lifelines

Embracing innovative technologies and strategies can help smaller firms achieve the growth necessary to survive this high-demand industry. Automation, for instance, can improve efficiency and accuracy while cutting costs for key processes such as marketing, credentialing, inventory management and onboarding solutions.

Talent turnover is a challenge for any staffing organization, especially amid a pandemic during which nearly 20% of healthcare workers have left their jobs. Smaller operations face even greater difficulties, as recruiters’ heavy workloads and widespread responsibilities take time and focus away from relationship building. Automating repeated, analytical tasks like scanning resumes, trawling social media and processing applications can free up opportunities to deliver more meaningful service and retain top talent.

If demand for healthcare talent lessens, speed of operation will present an even greater competitive edge. Small staffing firms can further improve their agility and encourage growth by shifting personnel from end-to-end recruitment management to specialized, functionally aligned teams. Processing talent faster produces a better candidate experience, reduces the risk of competitive poaching and demonstrates to clients a shared sense of priorities.

3. Nurse staffing is a big deal

In 2020, demand for travel nurses grew 35%, while locum tenens (temporary staffers) and allied health (including rehabilitation, diagnostic and disease prevention specialists) nurses saw modest staffing declines. This year, however, staffing is up across all nursing segments.

Even as the healthcare market braces for post-COVID realignments, several factors are likely to keep providers concerned with nursing staffing through 2022 and beyond:

  • Ongoing drives for vaccines and boosters
  • Growing demand for community-based care and point-of-care testing
  • Increased telehealth usage and integration
  • A shift toward outpatient and home health care

While nurses face unprecedented options for employment in a variety of settings, the reality of their working conditions can’t be ignored. Across the industry, nurses—and many other healthcare professionals—are burning out over long, stressful hours, increasingly demanding patient loads and inadequate compensation. Many full-time nurses are leaving long-tenured positions for more flexible or higher-paying temp positions.

As providers grapple with unprecedented turnover, partnering staffing organizations are struggling to balance new talent acquisition with retention efforts. In such a fast-moving and crowded market, analytics can help these organizations better meet the needs of their clients.

4. Healthcare commercial intelligence matters more than ever

Healthcare staffing firms rely on data and analytics to locate job openings, learn more about department heads and hiring managers and connect qualified candidates with the providers where their skills make the biggest difference.

Data including affiliations, referrals, patient leakage, financial strength and facility quality metrics offer insight into where recruitment efforts are most valuable—and where candidates will find the greatest satisfaction.

As the staffing market grows, these firms will continue to use healthcare commercial intelligence not only to serve clients more efficiently, but also to learn more about competitors’ behaviors. With the right data and analytical approach, organizations can determine how their competitors are maximizing fill rates and with which clients they’re finding the most success.

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