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Navigating the Shifting Tides of Healthcare Staffing: Acute and Post-Acute Care Outlook

Explore the ever-changing world of healthcare staffing in the aftermath of the pandemic. Corina Pigg, VP of Business Development and Co-Founder at FleetNurse, shares practical insights gained through her journey in the healthcare staffing industry. From pre-pandemic times to navigating challenges during the pandemic and adapting to the post-pandemic landscape, Corina provides a straightforward perspective on on-demand marketplaces in acute and post-acute care markets.

The Pandemic Surge and Subsequent Challenges:

The seismic impact of the 2020 pandemic on healthcare staffing was unprecedented. According to report on November 6th, 2023, a staggering 94% of nursing homes surveyed reported a shortage of nurses and medical officers during the pandemic. The surge in demand for contract labor to manage increased census and cover for absent healthcare workers strained an already limited supply of available healthcare professionals, particularly RNs. Healthcare entities, compelled to allocate significant resources to labor during the crisis, witnessed depleted budgets and negative margins in their pursuit of providing essential patient care.

Post-Pandemic Realities: Acute Care vs. Post-Acute Care:

Following the pandemic, health systems initiated cost-cutting measures, focusing prominently on reducing expenses related to contract labor, especially travel nurses. Notably, the narrative unfolded differently in acute care and post-acute care settings. Acute care, encompassing hospitals with highly specialized clinicians, grappled with the financial impact of high travel nurse rates. In contrast, post-acute care, reliant on LVNs and CNAs, witnessed a shift towards on-demand marketplaces offering flexibility to healthcare workers. This created a surge in the need for healthcare staffing marketplaces that use technology to match people to shifts, which was hardly utilized prior to the pandemic. 

Market Dynamics and Pricing Challenges:

The exorbitant pay rates required to attract clinicians during the pandemic, coupled with the inherent hazards of working in COVID+ settings, led to elevated bill rates for healthcare entities. Post-pandemic, frustrations with perceived "price gouging" prompted many healthcare facilities to sever ties with staffing firms. In retrospect, staffing firms had to align with clinicians' demands to swiftly fulfill healthcare facilities' staffing needs, often on short notice.

Shifting Tides in the Post-Pandemic Market:

As the pandemic receded, healthcare facilities, both acute and post-acute, began reducing their reliance on contract labor, impacting staffing firms. The heightened demand during the pandemic was an anomaly, and the urgency for staffing needs returned to pre-pandemic levels. However, staffing firms remain vital as healthcare facilities will always require flexible staffing solutions, posing the question of when and how this demand will manifest.

Financial Implications for Staffing Firms:

The financial toll on staffing firms became evident as temporary staffing revenue saw a median 10% year-over-year decline in October, surpassing the 7% decline recorded in the previous report covering August. (Source: Staffing Industry Analysts, Nov 28th, 2023). This decline reflects the broader challenges faced by the industry in the wake of the pandemic, underscoring the urgency for innovative solutions.

Adapting to Change: The Role of Flexible Staffing Models:

Post-pandemic, acute care hospitals recognize the need for workforce flexibility, a concept embraced earlier by post-acute care facilities. Marketplaces like FleetNurse now offer hospitals the opportunity to invest in flexible staffing partnerships, freed from the constraints of long-term contracts and traveler dependence. These marketplaces cater to nurses' desire for flexibility, providing local clinicians on an as-needed basis.

Educating and Supporting Acute Care Entities:

For those in healthcare staffing, the key lies in educating and supporting acute care entities on the efficacy of flexible staffing models. Resilience requires understanding the intricate requirements for vetting acute care workers, given the stricter mandates compared to post-acute care settings.

Addressing Challenges in Post-Acute Care:

Post-acute care facilities, having distanced themselves from agency staff, require staffing platforms to adapt and provide human-centric support. Technology is invaluable for efficiency, but a human element remains crucial in the staffing process. FleetNurse successfully navigates this balance, focusing on live support to help healthcare facilities build a sustainable, flexible staffing model using their internal and external workforce.

Building a Collaborative Ecosystem:

With the national shortage of healthcare workers persisting, collaboration among staffing platforms, healthcare entities, and clinicians is imperative. FleetNurse's approach aims to establish a healthy ecosystem, offering quality support to meet the evolving needs of all stakeholders, and fostering coexistence in an ever-changing healthcare landscape.

Corina Pigg's journey from a caregiver to a healthcare sales professional adds a poignant layer to these challenges. "Before my sales career, I was on the direct care side for eight years aiding patients. Transitioning to healthcare sales and co-founding FleetNurse, I made patient care a top priority," affirms Corina. Her commitment to patient well-being remained unwavering throughout the pandemic as she and her team worked tirelessly to ensure FleetNurse's platform was readily available to support those in dire need of quality patient care.

Corina reflects on the impact of every filled shift through FleetNurse's platform, recognizing the tangible difference they make in providing essential care to patients. "Every filled shift reaffirmed the impact we make, and at FleetNurse, we persist through challenges to support healthcare facilities with our technology and round-the-clock assistance."

Schedule a meeting with Corina Pigg today and see how your staffing challenges can be supported by FleetNurse’s efforts.