How healthcare companies can operate more like tech companies | Eric Ly

Technology is an essential tool to recruit and retain valuable workers.

As technology evolves, so must the institutions that employ it. Beginning with the growth of agriculture and its ability to sustain larger populations, humans have organized their behavior at scale into ever larger and more complex institutions directed at optimizing desired outcomes.

By way of example, consider the transition that occurred when the preindustrial hand-loom gave way to the steam-powered textile factory. In pursuit of efficiency and profit, entire modes of living transformed as people moved to cities, and corporations evolved to harness their labor.

We are now officially in the digital age, and every company is now in some sense a technology company. Likewise, every CEO is now a technology CEO, engaged in the digital transformation of their organization while using modern tools to reach their customers and potential hires.

With respect to staffing, there’s an urgent need to embrace change in technology and behavior. Just look at Uber, which has become the world’s most efficient staffing company by employing technology to connect workers (drivers) with employers (passengers).

Now consider healthcare, which has both high-touch needs when it comes to hiring and currently faces an acute talent shortage. Reports abound of the growing shortage of healthcare workers, and in many cases, recruitment is happening in Facebook groups.

Until very recently, healthcare was notoriously slow to adopt technology. However, starting a few years ago with the onslaught of demand for healthcare inflicted by the pandemic, medical offices across the U.S. began the arduous task of digitizing their patient data while at the same time onboarding new purpose-built tech for their other operational needs.

One reason for staffing challenges is that healthcare staffing is subject to complicated regulatory requirements. The rise of “traveling nurses” who move between states and employers with their various bureaucracies is a testament to these complexities.

Spurred by the pandemic, traveling nurses became an essential line of public health defense across the country, and healthcare companies learned a lot about technology and efficiency along the way. Healthcare companies have since become one of the fastest adopters of technology anywhere.

Staffing companies everywhere, including healthcare staffing companies, need to embrace their inner “Uber” - lean into technology to put the right people where they’re needed at the right time with the maximum efficiency.

We’ve already seen this happen with the rise of telemedicine - especially regarding mental health.

The mental health field has faced its own shortage of licensed professionals since the outbreak of the pandemic (it’s hard to imagine a situation that would more effectively juice demand for mental health services).

Still, streamlined regulations and the enthusiastic update of videoconferencing allowed patients in need to access mental health care wherever they’re located - even when the provider isn’t within physical proximity.

The nation’s healthcare needs aren’t going away anytime soon, since nearly 20% of the US GDP goes to healthcare. Better technology can make onboarding and deploying new workers in this field more efficient and cheaper.

As the cost of living increases and the nation’s healthcare economy grows more complicated, the ability of the industry to recruit, assign and retain scarce employees will become more critical than ever. Technology is an essential tool for keeping the whole system on the rails.

Eric Ly is CEO of KarmaCheck, a California company that uses a technology-driven approach on background checks.