Ask home health operators for their top challenge in 2020, and again and again, the answer comes back: staffing. In the 2019 State of Home Health Care Staffing Survey from Home Health Care News, 66% of respondents said that staffing challenges are “very impactful” on their organizations’ ability to grow business.
But dig a little deeper and you’ll find that “staffing” is too simple a concept.
“We’ve got a retention problem in this industry more so than a recruiting problem,” says Eric Sharber, a principal at Simione Healthcare Consultants, which acquired Scharber’s Exact Recruiting Solutions three years ago.
Scharber founded the firm in 2005, and in the early 2010s he and his colleagues doubled down on efforts to help clients retain staff, rather than just recruit them.
“I started doing a lot of speaking nationally on the topic, explaining why people leave organizations, and why they’re not happy,” he says.
Home health care organizations need to focus on retention strategies, he says, not just recruitment. And they need a way to target the right individuals for their future, as opposed to keeping those from their past. That means building a multi-pronged strategy around three areas: building a recruitment network, assembling the right team for 2020 and beyond, and developing plans for engagement and succession.
Build a recruitment network
With 11 Iowa locations and another four in Illinois and Wisconsin, UnityPoint Health at Home delivers a range of home and community-based services within a large health system. That’s a benefit for its patients — but it can create challenges for staffing.
“When you’re part of a system, we have a lot of shared services, recruiting being one of them,” says President and COO Mag VanOosten.
While UnityPoint attempts to recruit home health workers, the reality is that there is a limited talent pool in these three states, particularly of nurses. The ones interested in working in those three Midwestern states are being pulled in multiple directions to multiple health settings all within the same system, and all by the same recruiters.
That is where home health can use the services of a recruiter to expand their network and target staff on their own.
“I think (Simione and Exact) have really stepped in and been able to help us out quite a bit,” VanOosten says.
The company helped UnityPoint find staff at all levels of their organization, from executives to staff nurses, including nurses from other geographic markets.
Build your team for this decade — not the last one
This may sound obvious, but one of the largest staffing challenges that Scharber sees in home health in 2020 is the forward-facing functionality of a team. Specifically, a home health care agency’s team must be built to operate under the Patient-Driven Groupings Model, or PDGM, which took effect Jan. 1 of this year.
“I would say that my top (challenge of 2020) comes from the idea of upgrading the talent that you have based on the environment that surrounds home health and hospice right now,” Scharber says. “In a lot of circumstances, the folks who were running the organizations — the legacy people — may not have been the right talent for 2020.”
Among the key areas where home health agencies might be re-evaluating teams, not surprisingly, is finance, specifically the revenue cycle division. Scharber says that his clients have recognized the need to evaluate leadership, including key executive positions such as CEO and CFO, and revenue cycle manager.
“A lot of our clients took a hard look and said, ‘If we want to be successful under PDGM, then we need to upgrade our whole revenue cycle division,’” he says. “‘Is the talent I have now the right talent I need to overcome these regulatory changes in 2020 and beyond?’ A person who ‘has been there, done that’ and is stuck in their ways might not be the right person moving forward.”
Focus on who’s next
Succession planning and leadership development are priorities, Scharber says. As baby boomers retire, it’s essential for home health agencies to know who is on deck, and how they will keep those people happy until new leaders emerge and are ready to take over.
For organizations that are going to use external hires to replace key leaders, knowing where to find these people — and what to do in the interim while searching — provides crucial stabilization. UnityPoint searched for a new revenue cycle director in September of 2018, for instance, with Simione finding interim leadership that stayed on for a year during the search.
“We would have never been able to make that happen (without Simione),” VanOosten says. “I don’t even know how we would have continued to function.”
Exact Recruiting, the talent solution of Simione Healthcare Consultants, can help you find the right people for your business. Learn more at Simione.com or call 844-293-1530.