Appropriate staffing for healthcare positions continues to be a big challenge for health care systems. Between the pandemic and an aging workforce, nurses and other health care providers are in short supply. To remain compliant and to continue to offer the high-quality care for their patients, hospitals and other long term care centers have had to turn to more expensive options such as travel nursing solutions. Fortunately, Kevala has a solution. Their software platform helps schedulers create the most efficient scheduling for their workforce, and gives them the data they need to make the best and most cost effective staffing decisions.
We talked to Todd Owens, CEO of Kevala, about the challenges of hiring for health care in 2024. “First, we must deal with the supply issue of nurses. During the pandemic many nurses left the industry due to moral and physical burnout,” he says. “Proper staffing ratios weren’t adhered to, compromising both the health of the caregiver and the patient. When staffing falls short, nurses are more likely to cut bait.” Other issues in the supply of healthcare workers include training and immigration policy. “We have to make sure the pipeline of newly licensed caregivers is robust.” Easing immigration requirements for skilled nurses and caregivers would help.
Until there is a ready supply of nurses and caregivers, scheduling has to be optimized to make sure that organizations are making the absolute best decisions about where and when staff are used. You don’t want to have one floor understaffed, and another overstaffed. Solid data will tell you who to put on which shift. It’s critical that a health care system retains, engages and develops their workforce. Burnout is a huge risk: nurses want flexibility and choice. Losing a worker is expensive, as the costs of onboarding and ramping up a new one are huge. Employers have found this out the hard way the last few years and now need to focus on keeping good staff happy.
Data has shown that a key reason that good nurses leave their employer and turn to travel nurse gigs or staffing agencies is flexibility in scheduling. They want to be able to pick up shifts they want and be able to take time off when they request it. Owens’ prediction for 2024 is that organizations will be moving to provide their own nurses with this same flexibility. Kevala can help with this.
The risks of understaffing are not just poor care of patients: the risks of noncompliance with regulations and the risks of attrition are too big to ignore. Organizations need tools like Kevala’s platform to continue to thrive and provide the best patient care they can. “Nurses and other care providers are not just looking for the most money,” says Owens. “They are asking, ‘Where can I be a happy and effective health care provider?’ They want to find work where they can spend the next five years and make a difference.” He sees that future recruiting will be much more thoughtful on both sides, looking for a better long term fit.
Kevala is focused on partnering with local staffing agencies (like TalentReach) on behalf of clients to put more flex into the healthcare workforce. This is much more flexible and cost effective than a travel nurse solution. “We will work with the best agencies that are good at building relationships with high quality people and delivering high quality customer service,” says Owens. “We’ll focus on the software to make this work, building that intelligence level into the schedule, figuring out what is the best mix to optimize for the cost of labor, the quality and the compliance factor.” The ability to build a smart schedule is key to making the right staffing decisions, and Kevala is showing the way to do just that.