Why Contingent Workers are Indispensable for the Healthcare Sector | DCR Workforce Blog

Why Contingent Workers are Indispensable for the Healthcare Sector

Not all industries find contingent workers conducive to their workforce requirements; but those that do, enjoy high returns on their investment and keep using them, thereby contributing to the exponential growth of contingent workforces. One such industry is the healthcare sector where the need for contingent workers is evident across the gamut of positions in hospitals, home service providers in healthcare industry such as clinics, wellness centers, assisted living centers and elder care facilities, among others.

The current population and its demographics are driving the need for contingent workers in healthcare to exponential levels. The policymakers have further increased this requirement by promulgating the Parent Protection and Affordable Care Act, which mandates health insurance coverage to one and all; demanding a corresponding increase in healthcare providers.

As the population of America is growing older, doctors and nurses alike are equally in demand. Specialized patient care and support are in high demand. Assisted living facilities are a need of the hour and home health aides are needed to help with patient hygiene and other routine tasks.

Growing need for contingent workers in the healthcare industry

Many factors are driving the use of contingent workers in the healthcare industry. Let’s take a look at some of them:

  • The Baby Boomer population is aging. Yep, 10,000 Baby Boomers are crossing their 65th year every day and will continue to do so for the next 19 years. As this age group is prone to impending potential chronic health conditions, there’s no doubt that they’ll require better healthcare and progressively more support from trained healthcare personnel.
  • The Affordable Care Act provides healthcare coverage to tens of millions of previously uninsured individuals.
  • States, such as Texas, are experiencing a population boom, making it necessary to ensure a corresponding boost in healthcare staffing numbers.
  • There’s a gap between the number of available doctors who hold the required specialty such as geriatrics as well as a difference in the number of trained nurses against the number required. This is the time for people with specialized skills to establish themselves as independent contractors and offer their expertise to many clients and earn much more than they could as employed persons.
  • Many healthcare positions are filled as temp-to-perm as the organizations wish to try out the worker. They enjoy lower initial cost and overheads and reduce the risk of going through a severance process if found unsuitable. After the trial period, the worker maybe brought in on a permanent basis, if the worker is willing to do so. Hospitals are less unionized compared to other industries and this gives them the flexibility to employ contingent workers, as required.
  • As the new market-based approaches in providing universal health care may squeeze hospitals’ profit margins, some organizations prefer to employ temporary workers and save on the costs incurred on paid time off, payroll taxes, expensive overtime, benefits and pensions.
  • The healthcare system is consumer driven and patients tend to expect an almost unrestricted access to convenient, personalized and high-quality services. This tends to put pressure on hospitals to increase the number of staff, whether as nurses, dieticians or aides. Healthcare organizations are facing a severe shortage of required talent these days. Turning to contingent workers may sometimes be the only way for them to have access to the talent they need, on time.
  • Hospitals invest in vendor management software to manage their staffing vendors efficiently and gain access to a steady supply of talent at competitive rates to ensure that they are never short of the required staff. Through its analytics and reporting features, the VMS can enable healthcare industry analysis as well as the prediction of future trends in healthcare.
  • More professionals are turning to contingent work and voluntary part-time work arrangements to remain enjoy the flexibility needed to attend to child-rearing and other personal affairs.
  • By choosing contingent work, people enjoy better work-life balance, and have the option to work on different types of projects and learn new skills. Then they move from one gig to another because having a range of skills increases their employability and boosts their ability to move from job to job as well as become productive on a new job without any delay.

Healthcare organizations have everything going for them in their use of contingent workers to meet their talent requirements for healthcare positions. However, when filling jobs in the healthcare industry, one must employ caution and ensure that they screen their contract workers as thoroughly as they screen their permanent employees. They must also note to re-screen rehires and existing employees at routine intervals of a maximum of 12 months. Any slips in verifying the history of a permanent or temporary worker’s misconduct or criminal acts could jeopardize a healthcare organization’s reputation and future, while saddling it with huge legal costs and tort liabilities.

DCR’s Vendor Management System (VMS), Smart Track, works for healthcare organizations to control compliance and limit risk when hiring hundreds or even thousands of contingent workers. Does your healthcare organization need a VMS like Smart Track?

The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Lalita is a people/project manager with extensive experience in operations, HCM and training and development across industries like banking, education, business consulting, BPO and information technology. She believes in a dynamic approach to life and learning as change is the only constant.