Four industry trends driving talent management process improvement

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Meghan Doherty
Meghan Doherty

In recent years, the post-acute care segment of the U.S. healthcare system has undergone a significant transformation driven by the regulations and initiatives put in place by the 2010 Affordable Care Act. The ACA was put in place in part to address the nation's healthcare workforce shortage. Title V of the law is focused on meeting the needs of the healthcare workforce and strives to “to increase workforce supply and capabilities, develop workforce diversity, and strengthen professional areas where supply is weak.” In other words, the legislation recognizes that we simply don't have enough healthcare workers to take care of everyone today, let alone in a post-reform system.  In addition to policy changes, the industry as a whole continues to evolve due the effects of an aging population, evolving consumer expectations, improvements to care delivery models, and the widening skills gap of clinical professionals and caregivers.

Based on these factors alone, the post-acute care segment of the healthcare industry faces a talent management challenge that calls for major workforce changes.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS),  healthcare employment is projected to increase from 16.4 million in 2010 to 22.0 million in 2020. A majority of this growth is expected to occur in the “non-traditional locations” of nursing and residential care facilities, and in the professions of nursing aides, orderlies, and home healthcare. Despite regulation changes, shrinking margins and the increasing demand for service, there's one thing that is absolutely certain: the future post-acute care workforce will be expected to do more with less. 

The requirement to be more efficient with fewer resources, explains the increasing interest in and the adoption of technology solutions to ease the burden of manual work through process automation. Here are four industry trends that are likely to be driving an increased interest in talent management process improvement in post-acute care:

1. Increasing Numbers of High-acuity Patients and Residents

According to the 2014 State of the Nation Housing Report, aging baby boomers will boost the number of older households by approximately 8.3 million and account for more than two-thirds of household growth. This growing population places a huge demand on care providers and their staff. It's likely that a majority of these people require higher levels of care compared to previous generations. With nearly 10,000 Americans turning 65 each day, and life expectancy growing 2.5 years per decade, the amount of high-acuity seniors will continue to increase, forcing  organizations to adapt their hiring processes to focus on recruiting and retaining employees with higher levels of education and training to meet consumer demand.  Consider recruiting from the organizations that educate and train future healthcare employees. Post-acute care organizations should also consider implementing on-site training programs and development opportunities to ensure their employees are qualified to meet the needs of high acuity patients and residents. 

2. The Increasing Popularity of “Aging in Place” and Facilitating a Continuum of Care

According to a survey conducted by AARP, most adults would prefer to age in place and remain in their home of choice as long as possible. In fact, 90% of adults over the age of 65 prefer to stay in their current residence as they continue to age. This growing trend should serve as an indicator to the fact that healthcare organizations need to include home health to meet the changing preferences of the consumer. Personal care and home health aide positions are projected to be the fastest growing occupations over the next 10 years with a growth rate of 70%, likely due to the consumers' preference to age in place. 

Due to the consumer preference to age in place, many organizations are expanding their services to home health and hospice to complete the continuum of care.  For example, in 2013 one of the biggest providers of senior living services, Emeritus, acquired Nurse on Call. By providing patients and residents with a broader continuum of care through home health and hospice services, long-term care organizations will be better suited to provide compassionate, high quality care throughout multiple stages life. If organizations are thinking about expanding into other healthcare verticals, they should also consider how their HR team will remain efficient and organized despite the increased workload and demands of a decentralized workforce. Large organizations will benefit from a web-based applicant tracking system to ensure they maintain adequate staffing levels to meet patient and resident needs. Applicant tracking software allows recruiters to streamline and organize their recruiting processes so that they always have a robust candidate pool of potential nurses and caregivers. 

3. An Increased Focus on Person-Centered Care

Another key talent management trend impacting post-acute care facilities is the implementation of value-based purchasing programs that reward high-performing organizations and penalizing others. The shift from a fee-for-service system to a payment based on quality model is intended to cut the rising cost of post-acute care, which has grown faster than any other healthcare segment. Due to this change, many organizations are beginning to focus on improving the quality of care delivery. This approach is called person-centered careand strives to humanize the healthcare experience. “Our entire industry is experiencing a shift to collaborate both externally and internally, explore how we can embrace our customers and residents the same way we would if they were in our own home,” says Ryan Lillis, M.S., Director of Organizational Development at EMA Communities. 

In order to ensure your organization recruits and retains employees who are likely to provide compassionate, service-orientated care, job applicants must be treated as if they were a patient or resident in your community. By taking the customer service values that apply to your staff and applying them to applicants during the hiring process, you'll likely attract and appeal to like-minded candidates.  For example, talent acquisition professionals at Heritage Community of Kalamazoo send applicants automated emails acknowledging that they have received their application. This gesture shows the job applicant that the organization values customer service and is an easy way to facilitate a positive candidate experience.

4. The Adoption of New Technology

The team at EMA Communities in Eldersburg, Maryland, has fully embraced talent management technology to improve the recruitment process and hire compassionate caregivers. In a time when hundreds of resumes are submitted for just one job, applicant tracking software is the key to narrowing down the candidate pool to the most qualified candidates. EMA Communities has embraced their web-based applicant tracking system and have begun to track specific metrics showing a direct, positive correlation between the system, their practices and results.

Additionally, healthcare organizations need to hire committed employees who are going to provide a high level of patient and resident focused care. In order to make better hires and prevent turnover, long-term care organizations should consider implementing behavioral assessments into their recruitment process. Behavioral assessments allow you to focus on a candidate's inherent behavioral competencies such as compassion and customer focus to align with the organization's culture. “Technology will continue to be a focus for us, using behavioral assessments for staff development and succession planning initiatives as well,” said Lillis.

In order to meet the future demands of healthcare consumers, post-acute care organizations need to invest in their workforce and focus on the improvement of their talent management processes. When post-acute care organizations succeed in recruiting and retaining the top talent, they are in a much stronger position to deliver high quality care — translating into reduced costs and high levels of patient and resident satisfaction.   

Meghan Doherty is the Content Marketing Specialist at HealthcareSource.  To read more visit www.healthcaresource.com/blog or follow her @meghanbdoherty

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