The healthcare industry in the United States is undergoing a revolutionary period – and there’s only more to come. There are currently three major socioeconomic trends driving this transformation. First, advances in technologies and medical innovation are creating new areas of prevention, diagnosis, treatment and case management. These developments, combined with the aging population, are causing significant growth in the industry, resulting in many employment opportunities. This level of demand – not only for traditional jobs but for new ones as well – leads to the second impactual trend: a significant talent and skills shortage. Finally, the uncertain future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) amidst the 2016 presidential election makes it difficult to properly determine budgets and staffing needs, both at healthcare organizations and for employers across industries that face the potential increase of costs associated with providing their employees with health insurance.   Jim Lanzalotto, senior vice president of the staffing and healthcare business units for Monster Worldwide, addresses these trends and Monster’s role in helping staffing firms find solutions.

Q: What is the current state of staffing in the healthcare industry? How significant are the talent and skills gaps?

A: The current state of the industry is a varied talent constraint, and that is creating a significant challenge to the overall marketplace. Right now, there are 12 million people working in healthcare in the US. The unemployment rate in healthcare is 2.3% overall, and that’s the providers. And then there’s another sector of the space which is non-provider healthcare – aides and such – and that unemployment rate is 2.8%. So what we’re talking about here is a significantly well-employed marketplace.

12-millionQ: What are the new jobs or employment areas that have grown in recent years thanks to technology?

A: Healthcare IT, a big component of this marketplace, is the combination of new technologies that serve to optimize the healthcare space. Healthcare has always adopted new technology, but now it’s becoming a significant driver to the industry and has really changed the way recruitment happens and the value proposition in the market as a whole. So not only are you seeing it with the development side and use of internet technologies, you’re also seeing a more significantly focused technology.


Healthcare is two different markets: One is the domain needs of the healthcare provider space; second, there’s still a large corporate marketplace with a lot of huge employers in tech, finance, legal, etc. So you’re going to see the technologies used specifically in a marketplace, as well as the technology needed just to run companies like any other organization would be run.

Q: How has the healthcare industry changed in recent years, with the enactment of the ACA and market adoption of new technologies?

A: With the ACA implementation, healthcare companies have a more dependable revenue stream now, especially providers that are acute care hospitals and home care businesses. So that’s changed the market, but it’s also created more issues around cost management and cost containment; this has always been an issue for healthcare entities, and now it’s much more acute. The most sophisticated challenge with healthcare is that we don’t have enough talented, qualified providers for the needs of the marketplace, particularly around occupational health, physical therapy and registered nurses.

3-8-millionQ: How do you see potential changes to the ACA impacting employers?

A: A healthcare organization now has to be more adaptive than ever because of legislative and environmental impacts on their market. And by environmental, I mean what’s going on in the overall marketplace. These days you need to be much more adaptive to respond to these changes. More than anything else, how they recruit is going to change. In this market, when it comes to recruitment for providers, the best, highest-impact talent will always drive revenues for healthcare systems. The country is aging, and people’s surgery and recovery needs are driving so much of the need and demand for acute care health. But if you look at the other side of it, how is urgent care driving that? Whereas you used to go to the emergency room, now you go to an urgent care center, and these are popping up on every neighborhood corner. So that and how ACA is coming into play are making a significant difference, because now people coming into those urgent cares have coverage; they have what’s needed to drive revenues.

Q: How can staffing firms best help their clients navigate these complicated shifts in the healthcare and political landscape? What role can they play that adds real value to their clients?

A: The greatest value of staffing companies to healthcare customers is the ability to shift and move their talent bases. In healthcare, it’s even more important because of the ability to balance not only 24/7 operations, but the need for skills that are ever changing because technology is changing and patient needs are always changing. Staffing companies play a significant role in helping healthcare organizations move along that continuum. Plus, staffing companies can build pipelines of talent to have in place for these different organizations and they can apply them and assign them as needed, as markets change, as demand changes and as new technologies come into the marketplace.

Q: How do these changes impact VMS adoption and usage?

A: Healthcare is just now fully adopting VMS and RPO technologies, VMS and RPO programs, and that’s a good opportunity for both providers and healthcare organizations. The greatest value of VMS is in markets where there’s not enough talent. The ability for organizations to have multiple suppliers providing every talent in these strained markets is a huge benefit. The more VMS penetrates into the healthcare marketplace, the greater value the customer will get from this healthcare system or healthcare organization. When you have more talent in strained environments, then more value comes through from a VMS. So I think adoption will continue to increase; I think usage will continue to increase as well, especially when you have environments where there’s just enough talent in the marketplace.

percent-growthQ: The current state of the healthcare industry is one of both opportunities and potential losses. How should staffing firms’ clients balance these two forces?

A: The greatest challenge for healthcare organizations is having the right specialists in place for their patients at the right time. In diagnostic areas like MRIs, CTs, etc., the unemployment rate in 2015 was four-tenths of a percent; nurse practitioners were seven-tenths of a percent; respiratory therapists, eight-tenths of a percent. So when you don’t have enough of these folks to do the work, what are you going to do? You need to be more flexible, go to more dynamic staffing arrangements to find the right people at the right time. That is just something healthcare organizations need to manage, so staffing companies are uniquely qualified to help provide them that type of service.

Q: Looking ahead to the future, what other trends do you see impacting the state of staffing in the healthcare industry?

A: The primary trends will continue to be the levels of employment; when you have some of the numbers like I just described, that’s going to drive so much of what’s going on in the marketplace. The ability for health systems to have enough talent to fill their business needs is going to be significantly challenging, not only with the current situation, but as baby boomers continue to retire. So how can staffing organizations help fill those needs? The other factor of note in the marketplace is how the continuing consolidation of healthcare is going to impact things. A lot of very large employers are continuing to consolidate. The size of some of these companies as employers, and the numbers of people they hire on an annual basis, will continue to change. You have some large players hiring 50,000, 60,000, 70,000 people a year; that’s just an overwhelming number of people to be hired in the United States. So you have to understand how that drives them.