As “the new normal” has transitioned to “the normal”, we look back on how much the healthcare recruitment landscape has changed throughout an epidemic and pandemic. It was a period of rapid adaptation around the world, especially for those at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19.

It’s no secret that the pandemic severely strained healthcare systems globally. While patient numbers skyrocketed, healthcare staffing levels were diminished by staff inevitably being infected with the virus and others having to routinely undergo periods of self-isolation. In order to meet the growing demand for healthcare professionals, healthcare recruiters set about creating remote hiring strategies to source (and retain) international healthcare professionals. 

Here are five healthcare recruiting lessons which can be learned from the hiring struggles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

1. Adapt to Circumstances

adapt to circumstances healthcare recruitment

No description of healthcare recruitment activities in the past year has been as accurate as the term ‘adaptable’. The industry had to fight pandemic-induced curveballs in an attempt to stay afloat. While 2020 taught us about adaptability and resilience, this year, healthcare providers have to focus on ensuring that they have the correct processes and tools in place to ensure they have the staff numbers in place to keep themselves and their patients as safe as possible.

The healthcare industry and those recruiting healthcare staff found themselves in a strange position where in-person meetings became scarce or non-existent. Many recruitment interactions took place virtually. The ‘Zoom Boom’ allowed healthcare recruiters to lead international job candidates through the hiring process from the comfort of their homes. Having an online process in place now allows for increased adaptability when it comes to hiring, especially for overseas professionals who can help to stem staffing shortages.

2. The Importance of Telemedicine

2020 created a space for virtual healthcare delivery to thrive and continue the support and care we’d known from in-person appointments. Considering the staffing and specialist shortages in certain geographies, telemedicine has been the knight in shining armor for communities that would have suffered greatly without it. Staff shortages, the pandemic and advancements in telecommunications have contributed to telemedicine being the fastest growing area of healthcare, which is set to reach US$191.7 billion by 2025

Reducing time to travel, eliminating in-person interactions and the chance of viral transmission, telemedicine providers can now employ specialist talent from anywhere in the world who otherwise would not have been physically employable. In the UAE, the Dubai Health Authority’s (DHA’s) telemedicine service, Doctor for Every Citizen, provided more than 83,000 remote consultations in 2020.

There are many developments occurring in the telemedicine industry that will only continue to benefit patients, healthcare organizations and professionals. Chronic disease patients can have the data from their wearable health devices sent to their provider, allowing them to be monitored remotely and effectively. Virtual mental health services are also booming. The revenue of the top 100 mental wellness apps increased from $771 million in 2019 to $1.1 billion in 2020 making mental healthcare more accessible, convenient and practical.

As patients adapt to telemedicine services, healthcare providers who don’t offer telemedicine as part of their offering may well experience a decline. In 2020, US hospitals with no telemedicine offering experienced an estimated $202.6 billion loss within 4 months. Telemedicine makes a wide range of specialists from various geographies available to the elderly, the vulnerable, those with mental health issues, people in rural areas, pediatric patients, or anyone who struggles to visit in-person appointments. Teleconsultation, telecardiology, teledermatology and teleradiology are growing in popularity. Going forward, improved access to these services contributes to better patient experiences and reduces the costs of hiring and having staff on location.

Despite the many benefits of telemedicine, it’s essential healthcare providers inspire patient confidence in this alternative healthcare delivery channel. Healthcare providers need to hire verified medical professionals to deliver virtual care services. Investing in the right technology, such as blockchain, places data protection and patient safety at the top of your agenda while facilitating ease of use and professional compliance.

3. Updated Recruitment Strategies

5 Lessons 2020 Taught Healthcare Recruitment

Recruitment strategies and hiring processes also had to adapt to serve the new normal without disrupting healthcare delivery. Talent acquisition and retention should be a top priority for businesses that intend on thriving. 2021 is the year that we must focus on nurturing and improving our strategies and talent. 

While it’s important to navigate the changes we’ve faced, it’s important to optimize or eliminate any ineffective elements of the overall recruitment strategy. By improving your talent pipeline, from development to nurturing, you can create a space that attracts the perfect candidates and deters dishonest applicants. As healthcare staff shortages are a universal issue, having a pipeline of ready-to-hire candidates in place helps to scale your healthcare workforce quickly and is crucial to reduce costs and time-to-hire.

In addition, consider the significant steps that contribute to keeping new hires content in their decision to join your company. Being one step ahead at all times will support new employees throughout their onboarding process and into a high level of company commitment and furthermore, performance momentum. Hiring unqualified or fraudulent staff could result in costly lawsuits, imprisonment, brand suffering, reputational damage, casualty, or even loss of life.  

4. Red Tape and Staff Deployment

5 Lessons 2020 Taught Healthcare Recruitment

Since the pandemic hit, we’ve learned that skill shortages continue to be one of the biggest challenges facing healthcare providers worldwide. Pre-pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) predicted a shortfall of 18 million workers by 2030. Fast forward to 2021, and without necessary intervention, the world is on track to making WHOs projection a reality. The NHS, the UK’s largest healthcare employer, has reported an estimated shortage of 40,000 nursing vacancies and more than 100,000 full-time-equivalent (FTE) staff overall. Numbers like this have caused a great deal of stress and burnout on current staff, leading to early retirement and higher absenteeism rates, further dwindling numbers worldwide.

Recruitment practices don’t have to be lengthy, which in turn causes delays in filling healthcare positions. Modernizing overly bureaucratic processes will help healthcare providers to close the skills gap sooner rather than later. As countries look to reduce their healthcare staffing shortages, the ‘red tape’ surrounding international healthcare recruitment has come under fire. Understanding mandatory processes and ways to shorten them is advantageous for both employers and candidates. A great way to reduce time-to-hire and lengthy processes is to engage with a talent pool of pre-verified candidates.

Frontline workers are ready to work overseas, but red-tape has prevented these professionals from being deployed quickly and at scale. Complex and lengthy document verification processes contribute to this hindrance, but with innovative recruitment solutions, this can be averted. 

So it’s time to be proactive, prepare for the worst in advance (as much as is possible), establish comprehensive policies to leave little-to-no room for error. Build a pandemic policy and action plan to keep ‘business as usual’ as usual as possible

5. HR Technology Benefits

5 Lessons 2020 Taught Healthcare Recruitment

Tools are designed specifically to help their user. HR technology is no different as its function is to simplify and organize processes. The world relies more on technology now than we did pre-pandemic to remain connected and to streamline new working processes.

New technologies like blockchain played a crucial role in verifying a candidate’s credentials from their primary source once while storing them securely on the blockchain. Once on the blockchain, these credentials are available to the applicant forever to distribute to regulators, recruiters and HR managers as they wish. This approach, decentralizing the storage of data so that no central party has control over its content, will continue to allow recruiters to source candidates from pre-verified pools of niche talent, reduce time-to-hire and staff churn, securely speed up hiring decisions and allow healthcare providers to avoid repetitive bureaucratic paperwork.

Digitizing traditional HR processes has become very necessary. Investing in the right recruitment technology saves time and money without compromising on the quality of their hires. 

The pandemic has taught, and continues to teach, the healthcare industry many valuable lessons. We’ve adapted to our circumstances and need to continue to do so while considering how we deliver healthcare, make hiring decisions, recruit perfect candidates from overseas, as well as our use of technology in cutting the red-tape, reducing time-to-hire and filling vacancies with the best international talent. 

TrueProfile.io is committed to helping you source the best international healthcare professionals for your organization. We have access to over 150,000 verified healthcare professionals ready to be hired. If you’re looking to mitigate risk and reduce time-to-hire, talk to us today.