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Hospitals Are Quick to Gobble Up Talent

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, July 22, 2011

The headline you read above came directly from a conversation I had a couple of months ago with David Alexander, president of Soliant Health, one of the largest healthcare staffing firms in the country. In short, his industry is hurting, thanks, somewhat ironically, to the stubborn grip of the recession and its aftermath (although according to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, we’re no longer in a recession).

Soliant connects hospitals with a range of temporary clinical professionals, from physicians to lab technicians. But with the impact of the economic downturn, many health systems have seen the staffing problem go into hiding.

“We’ve seen a number of delayed retirements,” he says. “It’s been a great year for hospitals that have been behind the eight-ball in their hiring plans, and they’re getting back to full staff. That’s doesn't help us though, even though we've seen some very large competitors shrink.”
Those factors have shrunk clinical outsourcing, which was once a $12 billion (revenues) industry, to around $8 billion. That doesn’t mean strategic outsourcing won’t continue to be a major theme in hospitals and health systems for the foreseeable future, especially when it comes to hospitalist and ED teams, which have long been something that many hospitals have looked to outsource, so that accountability can be handled contractually.

However, to illustrate how things have changed, nursing vacancies at one very large health system, have gone from 35% to 3%, says Alexander, citing that system’s senior vice president of nursing.

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