All-Time High: 5 Factors Fueling the Unprecedented Growth in Healthcare Staffing


“We are in a time of incredible and unparalleled healthcare staffing growth”, was the headline of the Staffing Industry Analyst’s 2015 Healthcare Staffing Summit in Las Vegas last week. The number one takeaway from the conference is that a number of healthcare trends have fundamentally increased the healthcare market and healthcare staffing is benefitting, with staffing growth numbers and forecasts across all healthcare staffing sub-segments. But what is attributing to the healthcare staffing market achieving record, double digit growth?

After attending the #HCStaffSummit, it became evident that the factors fueling the unprecedented growth in healthcare staffing include:

  • ACA has increased the number of newly insured by 10-20m, fundamentally increasing market size and creating an all-time demand high for health workers, especially nurses. These sudden increases in the number of patients have driven a dramatic boost in demand for healthcare providers; a growth pattern that is expected to continue over the next several years, according to SIA keynote speaker, Dr. David Brailer, Managing Partner, Health Evolution Partners
  • More of us just keep getting older.

Projected Population Aged 65 and Over

  • Obesity remains a national concern, creating additional health issues and higher than average medical costs resulting in an increased demand for healthcare providers.
  • Turnover has increased comparable to pre-recession levels, increasing the demand for contingent labor to back-fill providers who are moving onto other positions, on vacation, on leave, etc.
  • Improvements in labor force planning will drive greater contingent labor usage. In the Locals panel, it was noted that hospitals will get better at managing their staffing levels. In the effort to avoid the costly mistake of overstaffing schedules, hospitals will improve their ability to estimate and manage their core staffing levels, creating a huge opportunity for contingent labor.

Tony Gregoire, Director of Research, North America, SIA, explained that he expects the growth trend to continue over the next several years. There was a bit of a Debbie Downer moment when Gregoire explained that we can’t expect growth to continue forever and he estimated that, “The next recession will begin within four years, unless we happen to be in the longest period of economic expansion in history.” Wah-wah-wah! I had a flashback to Barry Asin’s 2009 Exec Forum keynote where the economic situation was so grim, Barry wove in pictures of puppies and babies into his slideshow-of-doom to distract us from the sorry state of the market. Though I suppose we will thank him later, I have to say that it would have been more fun if Gregoire had stuck with the all-time high story and allowed us to stay in puppy-and-baby-land for just a little while longer!

Other than the macroeconomic issues, there seem to be no factors dampening healthcare staffing growth. While Dr. Brailer talked about emerging robot technology and we all started to think about how that may impact the future of work for healthcare providers, there do not seem to be any impending threat to healthcare growth numbers in the near-to mid-term.

I can’t wait to see what happens next in the healthcare staffing market…or better yet, for next year’s #HCStaffSummit in Washington, DC.

– s

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