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Infor: Can technology save the healthcare crisis?

28 Nov 2019

Infor APJ & EMEA executive vice president and general manager Helen Masters

Healthcare organisations across the globe are suffering a crisis when it comes to skilled and qualified workers.

In New Zealand, staffing problems in hospitals are putting patients at risk, with nearly every medical position listed on the skills shortage list and tens of thousands more health workers needed.

In Australia, the aged care sector alone needs to triple its 250,000 workforce by 2050 to cope with the greying population.

As a result, workforce management has become a key strategic issue in healthcare. While medical equipment and supplies are vital in any form of healthcare service, it’s people who make or break the system.

But budgets are tight, both in the private and public sectors.

There’s a lack of training and support, a critical barrier identified by Australia’s recent Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

Recruiting highly specialised workers is increasingly difficult.

According to Harvard Business Review, 60% of 21st century jobs in require skills possessed by only 20% of the workforce.

Organisations will increasingly turn to outside contractors, freelancers and project-based workers, which creates much more complexity in HR than simple full-time employees.

To resolve these challenges with the limited resources available, healthcare organisations - and their HR departments - need to work smarter.

Workforce planning challenges can’t be tackled outdated with strategies and ineffective technology.

Regardless of tight budgets, capital investment in advanced solutions may have to be considered.

Choosing the right solution is critical.

Three quick steps to failure include:

1. One-size-fits-all: Taking a "cookie-cutter" approach to HR software rarely leads to the best outcomes. Recruitment strategies in healthcare must be aligned to specific operational strategies. These might include enhancing the patient experience, reducing costs, or offering specialist care to certain groups. Different units within a healthcare business will also have different goals when it comes to hiring.

2. Multiple systems: As organisations adopt technology, they tend to deploy different solutions and bolt-on specialised applications as and when needed. This results in disparate systems that can create more work instead of streamlining processes. AI and automation should increasingly replace repetitive and mundane tasks, and help with complex compliance requirements, freeing up staff for higher-value tasks. But if staff are struggling with a mishmash of tech systems that aren’t aligned, they won’t be able to focus on patient care and outcomes.

3. Short-term thinking: There can be a danger in rushing change and not looking long term. While it’s important to move swiftly, essential planning should not be skipped. Healthcare organisations can use workforce planning solutions to address both short- and long-term strategies. Businesses need to be flexible and able to respond to changing pressures and future needs.

Conversely, three steps to a smarter healthcare HR tech approach include:

1. Ditch the legacy tech

There is only so far you can go with old, outdated software that has served its day. Over time bloat, inefficiencies and incompatibilities arise when software is endlessly patched and/or has other apps and features bolted on. For fully functional automation and streamlined systems, you need modern technology and data analytics.

2. Use business intelligence (BI) in planning

Different issues will require different solutions: some quick and simple and others more complex. By integrating business intelligence tools with advanced workforce planning tools, organisations can use insights, data and predictive analytics to determine the best approach for any given situation.

3. Go granular

The more precise you can be when planning capacity requirements, the better. BI, AI and predictive analytics all play a role here. HR leaders who use data to guide decision making will find easier to accurately anticipate future needs.

Recruiting a skilled workforce in today’s healthcare industry is challenging.

HR will need to think out the box to find employees with high potential.

It may mean contractors, job shares, remote workers or even encouraging recent retirees to return part-time.

Using the right technology to identify needs, defining the exact parameters and eventually recruiting for a role and assess capabilities, will build a better workforce and gain a significant competitive edge.