Unpredictability a Challenge in Healthcare Staffing

Healthcare is one of a few industries that never quit. Hospitals and nursing homes are open through weekends, holidays, weather catastrophes and emergencies, with shifts running 24/7. The need for constant staffing and a shift in priorities toward increasing profits has combined to create a staffing maelstrom in which unpredictability is the norm – sometimes, to the detriment of workers and patients.

In their new book Unequal Time, University of Massachusetts sociologists Dan Clawson and Naomi Gerstel break down the movement toward unpredictability as it affects different healthcare workers. Through interviews with multiple workers they determined that while most are experiencing greater unpredictability, the greatest impact is felt by nurses, nursing assistants, and other low-wage healthcare workers.

As mentioned above, the dueling priorities of constant staffing and showing profits lead many healthcare facilities to schedule the minimum possible number of staff for a given shift. When a nurse or aide becomes ill or is otherwise unable to come in, it creates a coverage gap that others must scramble to cover – there is no overlap of extra hands to help out.

Low-wage healthcare workers are often at a greater disadvantage. Demographically, nurses and nurse assistants are overwhelmingly female, with children, and may or may not have a support system in place to handle personal emergencies. Restrictive sick time and attendance policies force these workers to come in even when they are ill, as one of the subjects of Unequal Time shared with Clawson and Gerstel. It should go without saying that workers who come in while ill then put the patients in their care at greater risk.

While this book covered healthcare workers in a facility setting, home care workers often suffer from similar issues of unpredictability and low wages. However, beginning January 1, 2015 home care workers in most circumstances will be covered under federal and state labor laws governing minimum wage and overtime. (Workers can use the Department of Labor’s self-assessment to determine eligibility.)

Nurses and healthcare workers in some states are pushing for changes in staffing ratios, but healthcare staffing agencies can take a proactive approach with their workers by clearly communicating staffing schedules (and not changing them unless absolutely necessary) and implementing less stringent policies governing sick days.

Healthcare staffing agencies that need an additional boost in working capital to take care of their workers may find a solution in healthcare staffing factoring. Access immediate funding without taking on new debt, and invest in your workers with confidence. PRN Funding offers comprehensive healthcare staffing factoring programs to cover a variety of needs and situations – apply today to get started!

Did Healthcare Employment Decline in 2013?

Although the healthcare sector continued to create jobs throughout the recession, the industry encountered significant drops in employment throughout 2013. In December 2013 alone, 6,000 jobs were lost from the healthcare industry, with substantial payroll decreases among hospitals and ambulatory care.

According to new research released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the recent decline in healthcare employment capped off a year where the amount of healthcare-related jobs added was far below average. In 2013, the healthcare sector brought on 271,000 more jobs, resulting in an overall industry total of 14.57 million. Additionally, hiring rates dropped about 2 percent below the annual average since 1990.

Aside from the demise in healthcare employment, the U.S. economy only added on 74,000 jobs throughout last year. Meanwhile, unemployment rates were directly impacted by job seekers choosing to withdraw from the workforce. As a result, unemployment dropped to a five-year low of 6.7 percent.

In 2013, hiring trends varied across healthcare sectors. Although job growth was down among nursing homes and hospitals, hiring rates within ambulatory care remained promising in spite of December’s decline.

Regardless, hiring rates stayed sluggish for both hospitals and nursing homes last year. Throughout 2013, hospitals added 40,000 jobs. However, this number reflected a 30 percent decrease from the annual average since 1990, which amounted to 57,300. Nursing and residential homes also encountered a significant decline in employment from the annual average. The sector added on 24,600 employees last year, which reflected a 40 percent drop from the annual average of 43,200.

Conversely, hiring rates among the ambulatory care sector were on the rise last year, and were up by nearly 30 percent. In comparison to the annual average of 160,100 since 1990, the sector added 270,000 jobs throughout 2013. In addition to doctors’ offices and home health agencies, the ambulatory care sector encompasses a wide range of settings, ranging from dental offices and chiropractors to diagnostic laboratories.

With the recent demise in healthcare employment, healthcare staffing agencies may be struggling with financial obligations in order to stay afloat in the industry. Rather than waiting anywhere from 60 to 120 days to receive payment for your services, healthcare staffing factoring can help your firm instantly acquire working capital to help fund payroll and growth. Aside from making payroll on time, every time, healthcare staffing factoring enables your agency to factor invoices when you want and however your want. Why wait for your customers to pay? See how healthcare staffing factoring can help accelerate your company’s cash flow by calling 866.886.9466 today!

Top 10 Healthcare Careers for 2014

When it comes to healthcare careers, many immediately think about doctors and nurses. However, there are many other career options within the industry. In addition to job security, these professions also offer generous salaries. Whether you’re in the medical staffing industry, ready to grow or launch your own healthcare staffing company, or deciding on a healthcare career specialty,  consider these growing fields.

Here are 10 of the best healthcare careers for 2014

Pharmacist: Aside from dispensing prescription medications, pharmacists provide valuable advice pertaining to prescription drugs, as well as how to safely use them. Salary=$117,000, Projected job growth=25 %

Podiatrist: Podiatrists help patients with foot, ankle, and lower leg problems. In addition to providing diagnoses for illnesses, podiatrists also treat injuries and provide surgical care for patients. Salary=$116,000, Projected job growth=20%

Optometrist: Specializing in eye exams, optometrists perform routine checks to detect vision problems and diseases. Optometrists also write prescriptions for eyeglasses or contact lenses. Salary=$98,000, Projected job growth=33%

Physical Therapist: In addition to pain management, physical therapists help patients with injuries or illnesses improve their movement. Salary=$80,000, Projected job growth=39%

Occupational Therapist: Occupational therapists help patients suffering from illnesses, injuries, or disabilities by introducing therapeutic techniques and equipment that can help improve the skills necessary for everyday living and working. Salary=$75,000, Projected job growth=33%

Speech Pathologist: Speech-language pathologists provide treatment and diagnoses for communication and swallowing disorders. Salary=$70,000, Projected job growth=23%

Chiropractor: Chiropractors offer treatment for patients encountering health problems with bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. By using spinal manipulation and other treatments, chiropractors also help treat patients’ back or neck pain. Salary=$66,000, Projected job growth=28%

Respiratory Therapist: Patients suffering from breathing problems, such as asthma or emphysema, seek care from respiratory therapists. Additionally, respiratory therapists offer urgent care to patients encountering a stroke, heart attack, or shock. Salary=$56,000, Projected job growth=28%

Laboratory Technician: Laboratory technicians collect samples from patients and perform tests to further examine tissue, body fluids, and other substances. Salary=$36,950, Projected job growth=15%

Medical Records Technician: Aside from managing and organizing health information data, medical records technicians make sure that the information is accurate, secure, and readily accessible via paper and electronic systems. Salary=$35,000, Projected job growth =21%

Thanks to the implementation of Obamacare, healthcare jobs are poised to experience massive growth as more people seek services. For more information on the hottest healthcare careers for 2014, visit the Bureau of Labor Services Occupational Outlook Handbook for healthcare.

2014: Expect a Busy Year for Healthcare Staffing Agencies

Thanks to a slowly improving economy and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act on the horizon, those in the healthcare staffing world need to be prepare their recruiting strategies.

Healthcare workers, especially physicians, nurses and clinical staff, are growing more confident about their job prospects and may be seeking more lucrative employment offers. The physician shortage will undoubtedly make it tough on the healthcare staffing industry as well.

In order to meet medical staffing demands, certain states are allowing APRNs, physician assistants and other mid-level healthcare providers to step in. Giving mid-level providers more freedom and responsibility will help off-set the physician shortage and open up more career opportunities.

Although healthcare hiring appeared to be slowing in July, medical staffing should prepare for a fast rebound in 2014. Make sure your staffing agency is ready to handle the demand. Discover the ways healthcare staffing factoring can ensure your cash flow remains stable despite rapid growth. PRN Funding has spent more than a decade in the healthcare services industry, and we can design an accounts receivable factoring program specifically for your staffing firm.

Learn more about accounts receivable factoring for healthcare staffing agencies.

Obamacare Greatly Boosting Areas of Healthcare Staffing

Obamacare has been receiving plenty of criticism due to accusations that the health care law will hurt employees by eliminating positions or reducing hours to part-time. While the actual effects are still relatively unknown, staffing recruiters and HR professionals are confident that Obamacare will help drive job growth in certain areas.

Since PRN Funding works with numerous healthcare staffing companies, let’s take a look at the positions that are prepping for fast growth in the healthcare realm.

1. Nurse practitioners and physician assistants
Due to an increased demand for routine checkups and preventative medicine, physician services are set to increase at least 2 to 3 percent by next year. Nurse practitioners and physician assistants can perform similar services for the fraction of the cost of a doctor. Not to mention, general physicians are still in short supply and take much longer to enter the workforce. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts the demand for PA’s will swell by 30 percent and staffing for registered nurses will increase 26 percent by 2020.

2. Medical billing coders
Healthcare IT staffing will be huge. Combine the requirements for healthcare facilities to transition to electronic health records and comply with a new medical coding system (ICD-10) with millions of newly insured patients and you have a recipe for lots of jobs to fill.

The International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) will include a staggering 69,000 diagnostic codes and physicians will be required to submit claims with the new codes starting Oct. 1, 2014 if they want to get paid. Lots of healthcare IT staffing will be necessary to build these codes into the electronic health records software. According to Staffing Industry Analysts, medical coding is one of the hottest jobs right now.

3. Occupational therapists
Occupational therapists make appropriate modifications to the homes and workplaces of the disabled to accommodate their mobility needs. Since Obamacare prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage, more disabled people will be able to take advantage of health insurance coverage. The BLS forecasts a 43 percent spike in occupational therapy employment by 2020.

4. Wellness and fitness coaching
The need for health education specialists is expected to rise by 37 percent in 2020, according to the BLS. Many employers will want to encourage healthy lifestyles, so the demand for workplace wellness programs will skyrocket.

Aside from healthcare staffing, Obamacare is also expected to help spur career growth for payroll service providers, computer programmers, lawyers, insurance consultants, customer service reps and human resources professionals.

The Affordable Care Act: 5 Changes Healthcare Organizations Must Know

Recently, the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued final rules applying some crucial consumer protections from the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The intention of lawmakers and government bureaucrats when drafting the Affordable Care Act legislation was to enrich health care benefits. Under the final rule, all individuals and employers will have the ability to buy health insurance coverage no matter what their health status may be.

Insurers will also be stopped from charging discriminatory rates to people and small employers based on reasons like health status or gender. The HHS is now demanding that most health plans include the following requirements by 2014:

1. Reasonable Health Insurance Premiums
Coverage offered to individuals by health insurance companies will only be allowed to vary their premiums based on age, tobacco use, family size, and geography; to base the premium on factors other than those will be illegal.

2. Availability
Almost all health insurers that offer coverage to individuals and employers will have to sell health insurance policies to all consumers; no one can be deprived of health insurance because of a current or past sickness.

3. Renewability
Under the new rules, health insurers will not be able to refuse to renew coverage due to a person becoming sick. Consumers hold the power to choose to renew coverage.

4. Single Risk Pool
Health insurance companies won’t be able to charge higher premiums to higher cost consumers by placing them into separate risk pools. The insurers will need to have a single statewide risk pool for the individual market and one for the small group market.

5. Catastrophic Plans
Consumers will have the right to a catastrophic plan in the individual market. The plan will typically have lower premiums, protection against high out-of-pocket costs, and include recommended preventive services without cost sharing.

When these ACA requirements go into effect in 2014, expect a substantial increase in patient volume. Whether you view healthcare reform as positive or negative, it could prove beneficial to nurse staffing and other forms of healthcare staffing.