Strategic Workforce Planning for Healthcare



How Healthcare Leaders Can Strategically Plan for the Future of a Specialized Workforce


The healthcare workforce and industry are vital to improving our quality of life. Never has this been more understood or recognized than during the global pandemic. All the doctors, nurses, technicians, administrators, and numerous other professionals who deliver health care, directly or indirectly, stepped squarely into the spotlight these past couple of years. In 2020 alone, healthcare spending in the United States (U.S.) increased by 9.7%, to $4.1 trillion, or $12,530 per person.


The increasing need for healthcare has a significant impact on employment. For example, the American Association for Medical Colleges (AAMC) projects that physician demand will grow faster than supply in the next several years, leading to a shortage of between 37,800 and 124,000 physicians by 2034. Staff shortages, along with other shifts and changes in the industry, make it critical for healthcare leaders to start planning their workforce today.


In this article, we’ll talk about what strategic workforce planning in healthcare looks like and how you can utilize it to make sure you have enough of the right professionals to staff operations — now and in the future. We’ll also discuss how a key element of workforce planning is having a clear picture of your current workforce at any given time, and how both internal and external factors can impact it.


Healthcare workforce challenges

When we look at the healthcare workforce today, we see many workers suffering from burnout. As the pandemic rolls on, healthcare workers bear the brunt of it, working more shifts and longer hours to take care of surges in cases while struggling with the vulnerabilities and shortcomings of our current healthcare system. Burned-out workers are leaving their jobs in droves, making it difficult for the rest of the staff to continue providing quality care.


A growing and aging population further challenges the healthcare workforce. As the population increases, more people need healthcare. And as the population ages, there is a greater demand for the specialized healthcare services that are critical for older people. At the same time, much of the current healthcare workforce is nearing retirement age, and with the burnout caused by COVID-19, some workers may retire sooner than expected, adding to worries about staff shortages.


The multitude of licenses and certifications needed by healthcare workers today poses another hurdle. With the constant advancement in techniques, new technologies, and new treatment options, healthcare workers must go through more training and take part in continuing education programs to keep up. 


Standards for maintaining certain levels of credentialed staff have also become more stringent. Fourteen states have now passed some form of safe staffing laws, requiring hospitals to have adequate numbers of licensed professional nurses and other personnel on hand to provide appropriate care to all patients. 


Between burnout and staff turnover, an increased need for more healthcare, and requirements to maintain training and credentials, the pressure on the current healthcare workforce is immense. Which is all the more reason to ensure you have enough qualified workers available to deliver levels of care as expected. Incorporating strategic planning into your workforce management system is key to making this happen.


Planning for the future

Workforce planning in healthcare gives you an accurate, up-to-date view of your organization’s staff at all times — including headcount, salary information, reporting structure, credentialing, and whether you’re in compliance with regulations. But it’s also about planning for change, and that requires the ability to proactively respond and adapt quickly to shifting priorities within your organization as well as external trends. 


There are a few ways to increase your responsiveness and adaptability. One is to get rid of time-consuming, error-prone manual methods and processes — such as relying on spreadsheets to record and track information. Another is to utilize position-level data that allows you to link information such as department, location, and required credentials to each position in the organization, rather than to a particular employee. That way, when or if an employee leaves, the information doesn’t leave with them.


Healthcare workforce planning addresses some of the biggest threats to healthcare staffing today:

  • Burnout. Instead of overburdening existing staff, you can use a single source of truth to clearly see where gaps in your organization’s workforce exist so you can proactively and effectively recruit, hire, and fill open positions — even the most difficult to fill — or add new positions to account for increasing patient loads.

  • Population growth and aging. Workforce planning that utilizes skills assessments and training integrated into a workforce management platform ensures your organization is leveraging the right people in the right places to meet evolving business needs.

  • Licensing and certification requirements. With a platform that’s built on a centralized database, you can ensure all licensing, certification, training, and credentialing information is accurate and up-to-date for each employee, so you can proactively follow up with them and avoid anyone falling behind. 

  • Staffing levels. The same platform can ensure you’re following staffing standards by making it faster and easier to hire and schedule as needed, with automated workflows and reports that help you predict periods of higher staff turnover, forecast future needs, and plan recruitment strategies and budgets accordingly. 


The cure for inefficient workforce planning

Without strategic workforce planning in healthcare, your organization can’t keep pace with change, let alone rise up to meet some of the healthcare industry’s most pressing challenges. And sticking with inefficient and ineffective planning methods only makes it harder to predict with any certainty which roles you need to staff, when, and how. 


The cure lies in a technology solution with position-based architecture, a centralized database, granular reporting, and integrated training and skills assessments that can help ensure you have the qualified workers you need to meet standards of staffing and care and stay compliant with laws and regulations. 


Invest in the Right Tools and Technology to Solve Today's Workforce Challenges 


Now more than ever, organizations need the tools and technology to adapt to an evolving competitive landscape, attain a level of proactiveness, and remain agile. But legacy systems and conventional HCMs of yesterday can no longer keep up with the workforce challenges of today. Today's business environment is marked by rapid change and uncertainty - making it more difficult to ensure your organization is leveraging the right talent in the right places to meet evolving business needs. 


With strategic workforce planning, HR can identify and fill skills gaps based on current organizational needs and future business objectives through hiring, training, and technology. 


Click here to download a white paper to learn how to build a framework around strategic workforce planning that can improve operational agility, efficiency, and performance for a greater competitive advantage.


Persistent role-based data eliminates hours of busy work and frees your HR team to take a more active role in engaging with the organization on a more personal level. SyncHR is here to support you with efficient, accurate, and cost-effective workforce management solutions.


Subscribe to our newsletter for more topics like this or schedule a free consultation with one of our workforce planning experts today.


Please read our disclaimer here.




Back To Resources

John Cuellar

John Cuellar

John is responsible for SyncHR’s product, engineering, and system operations teams. He is focused on streamlining the business processes related to HCM and finance by distributing SyncHR to all members of the workforce and by using patented security and workflow to control these developments. John is also responsible for delivering SyncHR as a cloud based application with “extreme ratio” financial metrics.

He has a background in engineering, workplace applications, and business administration, bringing over 25 years of experience deploying strategic HCM applications. Prior to co-founding SyncHR, John was the CEO of Harbor Technologies, since acquired by Mellon Financial Corporation. Previous to Harbor Technology Group, he spent an internship with the Swiss Bank Corporation in their derivatives pricing and trading group and also worked as a senior manager for the US Navy. John received his Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and his Master of Business Administration from the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley.

Get the latest resources from SyncHR right in your inbox.

You might also like

Ready for a SyncHR demo?

Get a one-on-one demo of our platform and take your business to the next level.

Get Started

SyncHR Platform Overview

Our patented, enterprise-class technology is redefining and simplifying HCM

Learn More