As staffing challenges in the health care industry persist, the crunch to find top talent will likely continue in the months and even years ahead. For the home-based care industry, finding and retaining staff has presented a unique set of obstacles.
The home health care industry was already on a growth fast track before the pandemic, and COVID made more and more people want health care services from the safety of their homes. The need for home health care skyrocketed, along with the need for clinicians who specialized in these types of services. These factors hiked wages and shrank the candidate pool.
The demographic pressures — the greater demand for home-based care services mixed with the need for clinicians who have specialized skills — are leading to continued wage growth in the market. This upward trend is likely to continue, says Eric Scharber, managing principal for SimiTree, a company that provides industry-leading, tech-enabled specialty revenue cycle management (RCM), coding, professional services, and talent management resources for post-acute and behavioral health organizations.
“Until the demographic piece changes, which is decades away, I don’t see a lot of relief,” Scharber says.
For home health and hospice providers, the key to temporarily solving the problem is, itself, temporary: interim leadership.
“A candidate-driven market” — staffing questions entering 2023
Home health is a candidate-driven market, with more jobs than candidates to fill them. As Scharber notes, that means wages will continue to increase.
“It’s leveled off a bit, but it’s not going to come back down because it’s still a candidate-driven market,” he says.
This sustained wage growth is leading home-based care leadership to lean on new strategies for talent acquisition and retention. This is taking place at a time when leadership is already tasked with an uncertain economic climate.
Interim leadership: gig workers in leadership roles
But clinical positions aren’t the only roles home-based care executives are struggling to fill. When someone leaves a management role, it can leave gaps that can potentially put the quality of patient care at risk.
In those situations, interim leadership can help.
By leveraging assistance from external management experts who are experienced in home-based care operations, including staffing, these leaders can maintain focus on their day-to-day operations while filling their open management positions. SimiTree offers interim leadership among its services, and it can be a boon to existing leadership teams during times of turnover.
“Interim leadership is temporary management staffing,” Scharber says. “We’ve got a bench of professionals who have worked with SimiTree for years and years doing this gig work. It’s what they like to do. It’s what they are good at.”
Interim leadership helps home-based care leaders in three key ways. With interim leadership, agency leaders can:
- Avoid stressing existing team members with the extra workload during the transition to a new hire
- Provide support to their team in real time, for as little as a few weeks
- Fill any role in the executive suite including financial, operations, clinical, compliance and other roles
- Fill any management role throughout the middle level of the organization
- Remain focused on executing their business initiatives, while a permanent hire can be recruited (which SimiTree can assist with as well)
“This person comes with all the experience,” Scharber says. “There’s no ramp up. They hit the ground running and they could continue to execute on your initiatives.”
The road ahead in 2023
While many home-based care organizations are eager to overcome today’s staffing challenges, the underlying demographic pressures are unlikely to subside in the near term. The health care staffing crisis will continue to require leaders to attract and retain talent to fill the gaps — a process that revolves around relationships, Scharber says.
“Build the relationships, whether it’s with SimiTree or other firms that can help you get access to the largest population of professionals in this space,” he says. “You’ve got to use every resource possible to try and fill the gap. This isn’t going to change for a very long time to come.”
This article is sponsored by SimiTree. SimiTree is a tech-enabled revenue cycle, coding, professional services and talent management resource for post-acute and behavioral health organizations. To learn more about how to achieve stronger financial performance, call 800.949.0388 or visit SimiTreeHC.com.
The Views Series is a sponsored content program featuring leading companies’ news, views, case studies and announcements pertinent to their organization and the industry at large. For more information on Views, please contact [email protected].