Workforce Solutions

nurse figuring out workforce solutions

Parallon’s centralized staffing solution reduces labor headache!

Five years ago, Ben Bittner, vice president of human resources at HCA East Florida Division, had a recruiting challenge. Overseeing staffing issues at 13 hospitals throughout the Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./Miami area, Bittner observed that some of the hospitals were using a standardized model through an outside agency, while others were maintaining independent practices internally.

“We were really struggling as a division in managing our recruiting,” Bittner says. “So we asked, ‘How can we do a better job and maintain efficiency?’ The solution was we really needed to coordinate our efforts.”

Bittner, who has been with HCA for 20 years, was already working with HealthTrust Workforce Solutions℠ at about half of the East Florida Division hospitals. In fact, HealthTrust Workforce Solutions℠ grew out of All About Staffing, a healthcare staffing arm of HCA that originated at one of the East Florida division campuses. So when Bittner decided to look for answers, turning to Parallon was a no-brainer.

“Even though Parallon, at that point, wasn’t representing every hospital, we asked them to take the lead to coordinate a market-based approach to help us get through a very difficult period, which consisted of our ability to hire and fill vacancies,” Bittner says. “We made a decision to engage with Parallon as a single source vendor.”

“With labor being 60 percent of the expense line on a hospital’s profit-and-loss statement, hospitals are always looking for ways to save money and become more efficient.”
— Brendan Courtney, president and CEO, HealthTrust Workforce Solutions℠

Between 2010 and 2011 when the division-wide Parallon agreement went into effect, the East Florida division increased overall hiring by 28 percent for RNs, with net hires increasing by 36.7 percent. From 2011 to 2012, the division saw a 16.5 percent increase in overall RN hiring, with net hires increasing by 15.6 percent in the same period.

“There were a lot of advantages in going with Parallon,” Bittner says. “They knew our operations and knew what we were looking for in terms of staffing. We went from 13 hospitals doing their own staffing to one centralized effort. It was a seamless transition.”

Replicating the Success Nationwide

The decision continues to have positive ripple effects.

“Net hires are continuing to climb; gross hires are continuing to rise,” Bittner says.  “We’re keeping more than we’re losing.”

Replicating East Florida’s success story throughout the country is one of the goals of the HealthTrust Workforce Solutions℠’ executive team, which is now led by President and CEO Brendan Courtney, who came on board in February 2013.

“With labor being 60 percent of the expense line on a hospital’s profit-and-loss statement, hospitals are always looking for ways to save money and become more efficient,” Courtney says.

Workforce Solutions, an offering of Parallon, provides strategic healthcare staffing and recruiting solutions to improve patient care and enhance operational performance with leading technology and services. The goal is to assist healthcare providers in reducing the use and cost of contract labor and the need for premium pay, increase operational efficiencies and improve employee satisfaction.

“There were a lot of advantages in going with Parallon. We went from 13 hospitals doing their own staffing to one centralized effort. It was a seamless transition.”
— Ben Bittner, vice president of human resources, HCA East Florida Division

Many in the industry agree that staffing challenges within the healthcare sector have never been as acute as the present time. While the true impact of the Affordable Care Act has not yet revealed itself, ongoing political and cultural changes continue to affect hospitals in the process of finding and retaining excellent nurses, physicians and support staff.

Capitalizing on the Locum Tenens Market

The era of uncertainty has created a boom for one sliver of the staffing pie: locum tenens. Locum tenens is the Latin phrase meaning “to hold the place of.” It commonly refers to temporary physicians who contract with a hospital on a non-permanent basis.

“That piece of the business has become more active, and we’re bringing people in on a contract basis,” Courtney says. “Martin/Fletcher will tell you their permanent business slowed down considerably last year, but the locum tenens side of business had the opposite effect.”

In order to flesh out its staffing offerings, Parallon recently acquired Martin/Fletcher of Dallas, a top healthcare staffing agency and one of the fastest growing healthcare recruiting firms in the nation. Martin/ Fletcher specializes in locum tenens placements.

“Until that acquisition, we dabbled in locum tenens,” Courtney says. “Now it’s a pillar service for Parallon.”

The timing of these services are crucial, as hospitals continue to be plagued with a shortage of doctors. What was once considered a problem only in rural America is also now a problem in urban centers. Virtually no hospital is exempt, and the situation is expected to become more critical.

“Parallon’s vision of the current marketplace and how it will evolve fit well with Martin/Fletcher’s vision of the future of healthcare.”
John Buffa, principal at Martin/Fletcher

“It’s a locum tenens market,” says John Buffa, one of the two principals at Martin/Fletcher. “In years past, you would describe the physician shortage as mal-distribution, as people wanting to be in Dallas or Nashville or another city. Because of the Affordable Care Act, we’re looking for there to be a tremendous shortage. Physicians may be looking for shorter-term assignments, but hospital or clinic needs are still there. We’re seeing a transformation.”

Becoming part of Parallon made sense from more than a services standpoint, Buffa says. “Parallon’s vision of the current marketplace and how it will evolve fit well with Martin/Fletcher’s vision of the future of healthcare. We both shared the objectives of helping providers to control costs and maximize patient outcomes.”

Expanding the Reach

Another goal, according to Courtney, is to expand Parallon’s reach into the non-HCA market.

“There’s no other company in North America that provides as many end-to-end services as Parallon,” he says. “Our goal is to take all those best practices and service offerings to more of the non-HCA healthcare community. As we’ve taken these practices to other hospitals, they’ve been very well-received. Every month we’re expanding our awareness and getting new customers.”

For more information on clinical staffing and recruiting services, innovative scheduling and productivity technologies from Parallon’s Workforce Solutions, visit http://www.parallon.com/workforce-management.