...which is strongly suggestive, that the VA's problem with Cerner implementation? It's coming a lot more from the VA, than…
The Changing Dynamics of Today’s Healthcare IT Labor Market
By Mike Silverstein
By Mike Silverstein is managing partner of HIT & Life Sciences for Direct Recruiters, Inc. of Solon, OH.
Whether you are a health system, a health tech company, or an employee of either, the last two years have been a roller coaster. COVID-19 has had rippling impacts across all aspects of the HIT talent market, and the potential economic correction is compounding those ripples.
From March 2020 until June 2020, if you had a job and your employer would let you work from home as COVID-19 spiked, you considered yourself lucky. As an HIT recruiter, it was a scary time that brought me back to my start in 2008, when there were more candidates than positions, and my HIT software company clients were canceling hiring plans indefinitely.
Everyone was trying to adapt to a fully remote working situation. Health systems around the country were pausing elective positions and moving all available administrative roles from on-premise to remote. What is interesting is this felt like something very temporary at the time, but it has proved to be a historic inflection point in employees’ relationships with their employers and patients’ relationships with their doctors.
Today, if you are a health tech company and you don’t offer a virtual work environment or at least a hybrid schedule, it is almost impossible to help you find top talent. If you are a health system / health plan and don’t offer telehealth visits, live chat, virtual scheduling, online payments, and on-demand answers to clinical questions (aka digital front door), your patients/members are going to find a provider / payer that does. This consumerism dynamic signaled an opportunity for an industry disruption that attracted billions of dollars of private investment in the space and led to the craziest talent land grab I have experienced in my 14 years in healthcare recruiting.
Interviews moved to video, speed became a necessity, and companies who had coffers of fresh funding changed the playing field. If you were an experienced healthcare professional, you had an unparalleled opportunity to leverage your career and have multiple employers bidding for your services. If you were the incumbent, you quickly had to adapt from your employees being grateful for keeping them employed to figuring out what you are going to do to allow them to grow professionally, both in responsibility and finances, while allowing them to be with family and have personal flexibility.
In the past handful of weeks, I have started to feel those dynamics change once again. As inflation has driven up the price of our day-to-day and the Fed has raised interest rates to combat it, employers are starting to draw some lines in the sand. Salary offers are starting to level out and working from an office is creeping its way back into job requirements. The workforce still feels like they have the upper hand, but I think we are going to see a correction like what looms in the housing market. Companies are beginning to get advised by their investors to tighten their belt, and I have heard from several industry leading startups and growth companies that fundraising has gotten more challenging with valuations coming down to earth. From a labor market perspective, that means fewer open roles in the back half of the year, and as a result, a leveling out in terms of job offers.
As a guy who makes a living by matching candidates with employers, this is a little nerve-wracking. The good news is, I think healthcare has changed for good, and because it isn’t getting any cheaper, tech companies that can help lower the cost of healthcare, provide easier access, and improve the quality will continue to have a very bright future and need talent. I also believe at my core that talent wins the day and is always a phenomenal investment. The companies that will thrive regardless of what the economy does are the ones who hire the best people and focus on giving them great support.
There are still countless problems to solve in our industry, and the net-net is healthcare continues to be a terrific place to work, earn, and invest in as we head into the second half of 2022.