Last Updated on August 4, 2023
The gig workforce has been the focus of considerable discussion over the past decade. And for good reason! In the face of runaway worker burnout and escalating turnover rates, gig workers are increasingly essential in care delivery. But what exactly does the rise of the healthcare gig economy mean for employers? And what tools are available to help them turn this trend to their best advantage?
What Is the Gig Economy in Healthcare?
As it has with so many other industries, the gig economy is changing the dynamics of the healthcare workforce. Instead of landing a job and then staying permanently, today’s clinical workers are more likely to prefer working a series of higher-paying contract jobs. Available for a specific period of time, these contract positions give workers more control over their careers, along with more pay.
There are a number of reasons for the rise of the healthcare gig economy, and they’re largely the same as the factors driving the general shortage of clinical workers in the United States. Especially since the Covid-19 pandemic, nurses and other healthcare professionals have come to feel that they’re underpaid and underappreciated, and that their working conditions are unsafe — for them, and the patients under their care.
Healthcare Workforce Trends in the Gig Economy
In addition to inspiring nursing strikes across the country, this trend has also led to many professionals leaving their jobs altogether. Many others simply quit to pursue different, higher-paying work elsewhere. And, thanks to the ongoing shortage of workers, those opportunities usually aren’t hard to find.
The bottom line of the healthcare gig economy is that essential workers have more options than ever. Clinicians can earn more money by picking up extra shifts locally, and often even more if they travel. Alternatively, they can choose to accept temporary, high-paying positions, confident that there are plenty of opportunities waiting for them when their current contract expires.
Of course, this kind isn’t all that new to healthcare. Savvy nurse travelers already create their own careers by traveling to high-needs areas, working a 13-week shift, and then regrouping for their next opportunity. Moreover, there’s no shortage of these workers, either, as travel nurses are used more and more to fill clinical workforce gaps.
Adapting to the Gig Economy
Yet as the use of these contingency workers grows, new challenges are also arising for the organizations that employ them. The immediate result has been the disruption of clinical staffing strategies for all types of organizations. After all, more hiring requires more administrative labor. It takes time and skill to find the right gig workers for each job. Subsequently, it takes even more labor to vet them, work out a contract, and onboard them into an organization.
The healthcare gig economy may ultimately be a benefit to employers. As such, utilizing the gig economy effectively also requires rethinking some fundamental aspects of workforce management. As a result, organizations are increasingly dealing with this paradigm shift by leveraging healthcare managed service programs (MSPs) to make the best use of the workers available to them.
How to Better Manage the Healthcare Gig Economy with Managed Services
1) Improve Efficiency
With the more efficient management of gig workers now a top priority, MSPs can deliver a new level of added value to healthcare employers. In addition to the well-documented advantages in efficiency, cost savings and even clinical outcomes, managed services enable operators take the best advantage of the gig workforce that’s coming to dominate the healthcare industry.
For example, the ability to upgrade and automate key administrative tasks like shift scheduling, time tracking, and documentation management also helps organizations effectively manage a growing gig workforce. Managing more workers more efficiently while using less labor is a hallmark of MSPs. This is a potential game changer for organizations looking to get the most from the healthcare gig economy.
> Take a deeper dive into how healthcare MSP services help boost efficiency
Implementing an MSP platform also gives healthcare organizations access to more data than ever before, and a powerful tool to understand and use it. Leveraging technology-neutral best practices to integrate essential workforce tasks under one platform means more easily gathering and assessing critical workforce data. And that, in turn, enables the closer monitoring of key processes like scheduling and budgeting to help make future operational improvements.
2)Improve Workforce Retention
What’s more, making critical workforce improvements doesn’t just boost efficiency, but can also improve culture by offering nurses and healthcare professionals better working conditions. As a result, workplaces that implement MSP could see not just gains in revenue and workflow optimization, but also improvements in morale that can boost retention and the ability to attract new workers.
3) Maintain Staffing Levels
Perhaps most importantly, though, an established healthcare MSP can help employers more quickly source and hire essential workers. As many organizations struggle with finding the nurses and clinical workers they need — as well as demands for higher pay and other improvements — partnering with a healthcare MSP with a robust, nationwide pool of clinical workers doesn’t just help employers keep up with industry standards. It also gives them the best possible shot at success in the years to come.
Seize the Benefits of the Healthcare Gig Economy with CareerStaff
The gig economy isn’t going away, but neither are the traditional staffing models that most employers already rely upon. The organizations best poised for success will be those who can accommodate both models and leverage them in ways that maximize efficiency.
At CareerStaff, we’re proud to be a leader in healthcare MSP, offering a suite of workforce management solutions to assist healthcare organizations of all types meet their patient care needs in a competitive marketplace. Contact us to learn more discover how our industry-leading MSP services can help your organization seize the opportunities of the healthcare gig economy. Or, prepare your workforce by requesting staff today!