How AI Can Help Senior Care Facilities Alleviate Staffing Shortages
The senior care industry faces unprecedented staffing shortages, making recruiting, hiring, and staff management all the more challenging. Fortunately, technology improvements like artificial intelligence (AI) are also entering the staffing industry. In many cases, AI gives senior care communities a valuable tool to help them navigate the evolving staffing industry and its challenges.
How Staffing Shortages Impact Recruitment and Staffing Processes
According to Jason Leverant, certified healthcare staffing professional and president and chief operating officer of AtWork Group, the healthcare industry has faced talent shortages, skills gaps, and other labor-related challenges for the last 20 years. “Since the pandemic, though, healthcare talent shortages have grown even worse, with 100,000 registered nurses leaving the profession since 2022,” he says. “At this point, the healthcare industry is at an absolutely critical point.”
Leverant highlights a study published in USA Today that reports that about 3 in 10 registered nurses say they are likely to leave their career. “That’s literally 1/3 of an entire career path ready to quit! More than 600,000 intend to leave by 2027,” he explains.
“Staffing firms, independent recruiters, talent acquisition firms, and HR departments have all sent up ‘warning flares’ around this issue, but these warnings have done little to impact the issues facing most of the healthcare industry today,” Leverant says.
Due to overall staffing shortages, recruiting and hiring have become an accidental full-time job for care settings employing nursing professionals. “You see attrition and people want different working styles,” says Rip Martin, chief strategy officer at IntelyCare. “You don’t see that amount of work going into hiring in industries with lower turnover. Hiring becomes a bit more of a machine, with finding nurses, vetting, onboarding, and making sure that they’re trained. We’ve turned that into a conveyer belt because of the shortages we see,” he explains.
Leverant notes that the shortage has made hiring in the healthcare space extremely difficult. “Ultimately, the amount of people coming into the industry through education and training is far lower than the demand that is present in almost every market across the country. This shortage, coupled with a mass exodus of talent due to burnout, stress, and [other factors] has created a perfect storm of a staffing crisis,” he says.
How AI Can Support Recruitment, Onboarding, and Staff Management
AI can serve several roles in the recruitment, onboarding, and staff management processes. “AI does an amazing job of identifying trends in large bodies of data,” says Leverant. A senior care facility can use AI tools to determine if the facility’s employment compensation and benefits package would be attractive to potential employees. AI could also provide objective suggestions on how a facility could improve its offerings to make it more attractive to candidates.
He explains that if human resources information systems are set up correctly, AI tools could help to diagnose factors driving turnover. AI can also help a facility develop a proposal to increase and change compensation packages and benefit structures to strengthen employee retention.
AI can also be useful in handling administrative work. “AI can help with the automation of routine tasks such as data entry, scheduling, and onboarding paperwork,” says Steve Saville, president at SkillGigs, Inc. As a result, staff are free to focus on more critical tasks, and the use of AI can help reduce human errors as well.
“As for my professional favorite, AI can help identify ideal candidates because AI-powered recruiting tools and talent marketplaces can help create strong fit candidate profiles by analyzing skills, job descriptions, and past performance data,” Saville explains. “This can help streamline the hiring process and help determine who is more likely to succeed in the role.”
According to Martin, senior care facilities can use AI at many stages during the recruiting and hiring process. “AI at its core is about performing matching against things that humans would otherwise have a difficult time to do on their own manually,” he says. “It’s expediting work that needs to happen.”
Martin suggests that AI can be used to write job descriptions, determine which candidate profiles are appropriate for opportunities, decide which applicants are best suited for an opportunity based on background and geography, and more. AI can expedite these processes that would typically be time-demanding for recruiters.
There is also opportunity to use AI and automation when scheduling staff, particularly given the importance of making sure each clinician is put into an appropriate environment and shift. “Automation is very good at helping to find the best matches across clinicians and the schedule, and it can identify where and how to put together shifts,” Martin explains. “Gone are the days of saying three 12s or five eight-hour shifts. You can now break that down and accommodate an individual’s needs, and that can help to keep them satisfied and in the workforce longer.”
Saville explains that by matching openings with the best candidates, AI can potentially shorten the hiring time and maximize employee retention. “AI can be used to create personalized onboarding plans for new hires based on their position, skill level, and learning style,” he says. “This can help new staff members feel more prepared and supported, reducing the time it takes for them to become productive. Ultimately, a well-prepared new employee will be better equipped to meet patient’s care requirements and reduce critical errors.”
Ultimately, AI offers convenience, increased accuracy, and time-saving benefits for senior care facilities. “Many healthcare administrators complain about a slow and tedious onboarding process for staff, but with the help of AI the pace of the onboarding process can improve dramatically,” says Leverant. “Credentialling (and the tracking of expiring items) is one of the most tedious aspects of HR/employment in the healthcare industry, and having AI assist in the process creates more consistency and efficiencies every single time.”
Topics: Facility management , Featured Articles , General Technology , Operations , Staffing , Training