Evolution of AI in Healthcare Staffing: What HR Experts Say and Predict
We already know that the landscape of the healthcare industry has witnessed a dramatic and rather dynamic change in the last few years. The Covid 19 pandemic, naturally, paid a significant role in bringing about this change. However, the rise of artificial intelligence systems is paving the way for yet another paradigm shift in the recruitment sector, especially in healthcare recruiting. Let’s understand the evolution of artificial intelligence in healthcare staffing and its role in the future of recruitment in healthcare.
The healthcare industry requires talent that is credible, responsible and most importantly, competent in their skillset – because this is an industry that cannot afford to make mistakes. Any mistakes or errors can lead to serious consequences including fatalities which in turn can result in medical malpractice litigations and consequently drag a healthcare institution’s name and reputation through the mud.
Several factors contribute to the urgent need for healthcare staffing. Some of them are as follows:
Increased patient intake post-pandemic
While the pandemic led to an obvious increase in patient intake, the numbers of patients that have continued to increase post-pandemic have been significant. This is probably because the Coronavirus has serious after effects and severe cases of influenza are now returning to healthcare facilities with diseases occurring due to a compromised immune system. This accumulation in patient intake has led to an urgent need for competent healthcare professionals – both full-time and part-time.
High burnout rate
Medical and healthcare institutions are facing a serious shortage of healthcare staff mainly due to a high burnout rate among healthcare professionals. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, 50% of healthcare workers report symptoms of burnout and decreased morale. This is because healthcare institutions are expecting to extract more work from lower numbers of manpower. This burnout rate is expected to continue increasing as the urgent need for healthcare professionals continues to increase. As per an estimate by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the United States is expected to need close to 100,000 physicians to tend to patients by 2025 and at least 125,000 physicians by 2033.
An alarming number of healthcare professionals – especially registered nurses are in the average age group of 40-55 years. These healthcare professionals are expected to retire from service in the near future and their replacements are significantly lower in number – this means healthcare facilities will be forced to increase the industry remuneration and incentives given to healthcare professionals and healthcare professionals will have a wider range of choices to work. In fact, the 2022-2023 Hospice Salary & Benefits Report found that the US average hourly rate for CNAs increased by 9.09%.
Increased expenses and higher standards of living cannot be handled by everyone and a large amount of populations are moving back to their native towns seeking affordable living, even if it means compromising on pay and incentives. This creates an urgent need for manpower at larger urban healthcare facilities.
Rise in private healthcare and telehealth services
Travelling physicians and nurses are not only affordable, they provide healthcare consultations in the comfort of a patient’s home. This makes the service much more lucrative than going to a hospital. Similarly, telehealth services allow patients with minor health concerns like aches, pains, mild fever etc seek medical attention without physically visiting a health facility – more and more health professionals are switching from full-time and part-time healthcare work to telehealth and travelling healthcare consultation.
The evolution of artificial intelligence in the healthcare industry
Artificial Intelligence solutions have been paving the way to modernize several industries and naturally, there have been several applications for artificial intelligence software in healthcare as well. Artificial Intelligence software can be used to help detect early signs of genetic conditions and terminal illnesses like cancer; it can help in managing medical databases; it can act as a virtual health assistant and even detect fraudulent insurance cases. Artificial Intelligence solutions are even being used for complicated surgical procedures as assistant surgical bots. Here’s how artificial intelligence solutions can be used to cover for low manpower at healthcare facilities.
Streamlining hospital management
By using artificial intelligence software, healthcare facilities can delegate monotonous tasks like managing scheduling and communicating with healthcare professionals and all stakeholders about the availability of operating rooms, beds, private rooms etc at large healthcare institutions. These solutions can also be used between affiliated healthcare institutions to direct patients to other facilities for tests, medical reports, in-patient care etc.
By using artificial intelligence-based solutions, healthcare institutions can delegate the task of diagnosing minor health concerns by correlating symptoms and treating minor health-related issues without human intervention. As per a report by IBM, such solutions can reduce the burden on healthcare professionals by at least 20%. In a time when the burnout rate among healthcare professionals is a serious cause for concern, using AI-based solutions will be an efficient way to unburden manpower.
Surgeries cannot occur without the assistance of surgical staff – specifically surgical nurses. However, a shortage in staff means medical professionals are forced to redirect surgeries to other healthcare facilities, or worse, run the risk of errors while performing surgeries shorthanded. However, by using robot surgical assistants to carry out basic surgical tasks, surgeons can carry out surgeries efficiently.
Virtual medical assistants
Going to the hospital is never a joyride for a patient. By using AI-based software, healthcare facilities can remotely monitor long term in-home patients and keep a log of their health. This reduces any unwarranted visits to the hospital and reduces the burden on healthcare professionals.
By using artificial intelligence solutions and machine learning software, healthcare facilities can do their bit to reduce the burden on healthcare professionals and significantly bring down the burnout rate.
That being said, artificial intelligence solutions can only go so far as to help with specific tasks. It is important to note that they cannot replace human talent. As such, healthcare facilities will continue to require manpower.
Usually healthcare institutions tend to depend on traditional recruiting methods. Now we already know that in a bid to reduce the risk of human error, healthcare institutions require a strict and stringent hiring and vetting processes. These processes are required to leave little room for error, pay a significant amount of attention to detail and assist with hiring healthcare professionals with the required skill set. This usually means that healthcare recruiters must manually sift through thousands of applications and shortlist those that best meet the healthcare institution’s needs. Healthcare recruitment does not stop at shortlisting resumes. It is important to note that the healthcare sector, on the whole, can be quite daunting and requires talent with a stomach to handle unpleasant medical issues, work long hours in a high pressure environment and most importantly, not make mistakes. That is why the medical profession is not one that can be handled by everyone. It is important that people applying to positions in healthcare be screened for their ability to handle high pressure environments, adapt and thrive in medical and healthcare work culture and have the right aptitude as well as the right attitude for a career in medical and healthcare services. Using traditional recruiting methods in healthcare recruiting can be time-consuming and inefficient. This is where artificial intelligence solutions can come into play.
By using artificial intelligence solutions, healthcare recruitment professionals can optimize each phase of the recruitment process. Let’s understand each of these phases and how AI can help optimize these phases.
Ideally, there are four phases in any recruitment process. These are the awareness phase, the engagement phase, the qualifying phase and the conversion phase.
Using AI-based solutions in the awareness phase of the recruitment
In this phase, the objective of a recruiter is to attract the right candidates. AI-based solutions can be used to build personalised websites and landing pages for the careers section of healthcare institutions – potential candidates can sign up to receive updates in line with their skill set and simultaneously allow the institution to build a candidate database. By using AI tracking and targeting solutions, receivers can target potential candidates using ads on social media and other relevant platforms like job boards and discussion forums. This process eliminates the need for an AI professional to cast a net and draw candidates who may or may not be favorable for an available opportunity. Instead, recruiters can attract those who are genuinely interested in applying to the open position.
Using AI-based solutions in the engagement phase of the recruitment
In the next phase i.e., the engagement phase, the objective of the recruiter is to engage with candidates that may be potential talents for the available job opportunity. However, it is not possible to talk to thousands of applicants and shortlist them to the next round without running the risk of recruiter bias. Additionally, such a process can be extremely tedious as well as time-consuming. By using AI-based solutions, candidates can engage with recruitment bots and share their details. They can also answer questions that will further shortlist or disqualify their application. An email engagement solution can notify candidates whether or not they have been shortlisted in order to close the communication. Additionally, intelligent chat or systems can answer any queries that candidates might have with respect to work culture, working hours etc.
Using AI-based solutions in the qualifying phase of the recruitment
The objective of the third phase of recruitment is to further interact with potential candidates, assess their skill set and if their profile is deemed fit, move to rounds of interviews. Instead of depending on human intervention for such tasks, healthcare recruiters can simply use AI-based solutions to help streamline the qualifying phase of recruitment. Candidates who have been shortlisted by the system can attempt assessments – which can be assessed by software systems.
Because healthcare candidates are required to have specific skill sets, machines can be trained to assess them based on their specialty. These systems will not only score a candidate on their knowledge and skills, they will also report on other traits like cognitive abilities, morals and ethics etc. Candidates who fare well in the assessments can be notified via email and can schedule an interview as per their convenience. The system can also send reminders to both parties about upcoming interviews and collect feedback post the interview process for future reference.
Using AI-based solutions in the conversion phase of the recruitment
In the fourth and final phase of the recruitment process, I.e. the conversion phase, candidates are notified about being selected for the job role and offer letters are rolled out to them along with the contract and other important documents. Candidates are required to sign and upload the offer letter, and also upload documents like experience letters, qualification certificates etc. They are then notified of the joining date and are required to fill up onboarding details. All of these tasks can be easily carried out with minimal human intervention. By using AI-based tools, recruiters can notify selected candidates and share offer letters with them. They can quickly and efficiently collect important documents from the candidate and notify them of any pending documents that need to be uploaded. They can also help the candidate create an employee account within the system and seamlessly complete the onboarding process before the joining date.
By 2031, it is estimated that the Global Healthcare Staffing Market will amass about $89,763.9 million, growing from $40,080 million in 2021 at a CAGR of 8.9% from 2022 to 2031. All these factors are projected to drive market growth and demand in the near future. It will not be possible to fulfill the rapid rising demand for competent healthcare professionals if healthcare institutions continue to use traditional recruitment strategies. In order to stay on top of the game, healthcare institutions will need to undergo a digital transformation exercise and implement AI-based recruitment solutions.
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