The health care sector looks to see a compound annual growth rate of almost 14 percent for workforce performance solutions, according to “The Americas Market for Workforce Management Solutions,” a study by U.K.-based IMS Research.
Health care in the United States has encountered one of the most competitive labor markets in years, but the number of nurses and other health care workers has fallen a great deal in the past few years.
In light of this phenomenon, as well as overall rising costs, workforce management solutions are taking on a more important role in the health care sector.
IMS Research predicts that the U.S. market for workforce management solutions within health care will be worth about $313 million in 2010.
Further, demands on health care staff members have increased along with the number and scope of treatments that can be provided to treat the health needs of aging populations, including baby boomers.
“While nurse shortages are to some extent being addressed by temporary stuff, this is proving expensive and unsatisfactory,” said IMS Research analyst Paul Everett. “There are currently around 545,000 establishments that make up the health care industry in the United States, all varying in terms of size, staffing patterns and organizational structures. Although hospitals only constitute an estimated 2 percent of all health care establishments, they employ approximately 40 percent of all workers, and the obstacle of nurse shortages is increasingly becoming a problem for the health care industry.”
Workforce management solutions, however, are helping health care organizations improve the scheduling of staff shift patterns, as well as reduce costs that arise from nonproductive staffing. And in addition to these two positive occurrences, the solutions help maintain a high level of service offered to patients.
“Efficient scheduling continues to be an issue for health care managers, as they struggle to balance the needs of their staff with those of their facility while trying to maintain high levels of patient care,” Everett said.
Additionally, the use of workforce management solutions helps health care organizations reduce costs associated with staffing.
“Workforce management software is also enabling health care managers to have real-time visibility of their staffing needs so that they can quickly identify labor shortages,” Everett said. “This allows them to optimize deployment of staff while at the same time reducing overtime and minimizing the use of agency labor.”
And in regard to scheduling shift patterns, workforce management solutions help health care professionals determine employees’ skill levels, which helps hospitals minimize the chance of scheduling unqualified workers.
“The benefits of self-scheduling are also becoming increasingly evident in the health care sector,” Everett said. “Workforce management solutions are providing nurses with the tools to swap or bid on open shifts, set scheduling preferences, submit time-off requests and review accruals. This leads to improved employee satisfaction, which is essential, particularly in times where nurse recruitment and retention is critical.”