Better Healthcare Hiring: Meet 5 Bold Companies Who Broke the Mold

8 min read

Healthcare models are outdated. You know it, we know it, everybody knows it. But if we want to serve future patients better, we've got to learn how to hire like the best.

Change in the healthcare industry is painfully slow. Take a look at this Harvard Business Review article on the healthcare innovation crisis published in 2006 (some 12 years ago 🤦‍), then at the latest HBR piece from 2018, and you’ll have a pretty good idea how hard it is to turn this ship around.

The pressure is real. Patients are in desperate need of better care at a lower cost and if healthcare business want to stay competitive for years to come, they'll need to adopt more efficient, effective and sustainable business models.

Now more than ever, healthcare needs a revamp.

But for this to happen, we also need great people. The healthcare organizations of the future will require multidisciplinary teams of specialized talent—engineers, designers, clinicians and business strategists with a patient-first focus and exceptional bedside manner. Needless to say, these folks aren't always easy to find.

Understanding the healthcare talent (and tech) crisis

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment rate in the healthcare industry is expected to increase by 18% by 2026, growing much faster than the average for all occupations and adding approximately 2.4 million new jobs.

And that's not the only source of pressure. Today's aging population comes with burgeoning demand for healthcare services.

And a recent study by the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Center for Workforce Studies shows no signs of slowing down. As Baby Boomers age, healthcare services that cater to the older cohort of patients may be disproportionately affected. But that's not all.

The report also found that there will be 45,000 too few primary care physicians and a shortage of 46,000 surgeons and medical specialists, within the next decade.

But don't worry. It's not all doom and gloom.

In the oft-referred to Fourth Industrial Revolution, technology can play a huge role in alleviating the pressure on healthcare services, while bringing some much-needed innovation to the industry. With the rise of cutting-edge tech such as chatbots, AI and wearables, the potential is great. It's just that so far, we haven’t been able to reach it.

That's because, as experts like Harvard Business School fellow Nikhil Sahni point out, IT systems still aren't being used to the patient's advantage.

“To date, the priorities of most healthcare organizations have been replacing paper records with electronic ones and improving billing to maximize reimbursements. Although revenues have risen as a result, the impact of IT on reducing the costs and improving the quality of clinical care has been modest, limited to facilitating activities such as order entry to help patients get tests and medications quickly and accurately. Relatively few organizations have taken the important next step of analyzing the wealth of data in their IT systems to understand the effectiveness of the care they deliver.”

The real question is this: How can healthcare organizations deliver on the promise of technology to improve patient outcomes?

There are plenty of ways to answer that. But one place to start would be to finally ditch outdated software and focus on getting the right humans in place in order to apply and optimize investments in new technologies to the benefit of patients everywhere.

But in this increasingly tight talent market, how can healthcare employers differentiate themselves from the pack and win the right people? Here are four standout companies, each with a bold approach that can help inspire your own.

1. Providence St. Joseph - Education🎓 + Healthcare🏥 = Candidate 💓

Providence St. Joseph Health (PSJH) is one of the biggest healthcare systems in the US, ranking #8 in the top 300 US-based companies on the Forbes 2018 list.

And as you'd expect, they go big for their employees.

How do they do it

In 2017, the company realized there’s a high demand for more education within the healthcare talent market. So they came up with their own unique way to get the right people on board: they opened their own university.

The University of Great Falls in Montana is now the University of Providence. Not only that, there’s a brand new School of Health Professions, offering a variety of online courses and certificate programs for PSJH’s employees.

But PSJH's learning opportunities go well beyond retention. They're also a future-proof recruitment tool.

By funding programs in markets where there’s a huge need for specialized staff, like nursing for example, the healthcare employer can better navigate the impending talent crisis. "Over the next 10 years we will need to hire fourfold what we have to hire now," says Deborah Burton, Chief Nursing Officer.

Recruiters for PSJH know exactly how to position the subsidized learning opportunities as a major perk and help keep the candidate pipeline full.

What makes them shine

Beyond using L&D to curve their own talent gaps, PSJH does a great job of keeping it human.

"Our 118,000 caregivers are our most important asset. By welcoming, mentoring and nurturing new graduates, we ensure we have the compassionate and talented team we need to care for our communities today and in the future," says Rod Hochman, MD and CEO.

No wonder Forbes named them the 9th Best Employer in the US for New Graduates in 2018. 👏

2. AMN Healthcare - The forerunner in diversity and transparency

Research shows that 67% of job seekers care about a company's diversity statistics when thinking about a new job. It's a statistic you can't afford to ignore.

Here's how AMN hit the Forbes 2018 list for one of America’s Best Mid-Size Employers by simply doing the right thing, better than anyone else.

How do they do it

AMN Healthcare offers healthcare workforce solutions and staffing services in the

US. And the company’s CEO, Susan Salka, strongly believes in embracing diversity.

In fact, it's one of AMN’s core values. But unlike many employers, they don't just say they seek diversity—they mean it. Hiring teams at AMN constantly evaluate their data to make sure they're just as inclusive as they say they are.

Here's Salka's top recommendation for companies who want to stay true to their candidates, and to themselves.

“The first piece of advice I would have for people is to really put a lens of metrics on what you say you want to do. And I think a mistake people make is they have programs and nice mission statements and charters, but they forget to actually measure those statements. Start with the baseline to say, ‘Where are we today?’”

What makes them shine

Two-thirds of the entire workforce at AMN are women—including half the executives—and about one-third of the team is non-white. (Did we mention they walk the walk?)

But measuring diversity isn't the only talent tactic Salka and her HR teams insist on. She also makes sure she's available to communicate with employees at all levels. That means making herself approachable. “You might have this nice little mission statement, but if you aren’t actually seeing and hearing inclusion happen on a daily basis throughout the organization, then that mission statement doesn’t mean much. And so one of the things that I do is I walk the floors a lot,” she says.

Recent research from Harvard revealed that 12% of employees left a job due to uncivil treatment. With an approach like AMN's, you can be the one waiting to welcome those top-performers with truly open arms.

3. SOPHiA GENETICS - Recruiting with mission

As tech enters the picture, all bets are off.

This next example shows how old hiring practices can (and should) give way to agile approaches for securing stellar employees.

How do they do it

SOPHiA GENETICS is a Swiss-based company with offices all over the world, including a recently-opened US headquarters in Boston.

The company created a game-changing AI, and accompanying SaaS platform, to help clinicians in over 850 hospitals all over the world get a better, faster and more accurate diagnosis for patients.

Due to the highly technical nature of their work, SOPHiA GENETICS' talent requirements run the gamut. From data computing experts, to bioinformaticians and global business development reps—they need all the highly-driven and expertly trained talent they can get.

Like any other employer brand, they post ads online and in local media. But unlike many employers, they regularly have candidates coming to them. And they're happy to create a position when the right talent comes along.

Don't believe us? Take a look at what their Supply Chain Manager has to say about the job. "The ambiance we have in the company is simply incredible. What we do is important and the people we get to work with are amazing. Working at SOPHiA GENETICS, you know that you doing something good and are making a meaningful difference in patients’ lives."

No other industry has a more inspiring mission. Use it to your advantage.

What makes them shine

As if saving patients' lives all over the world weren't enough, teams at SOPHiA GENETICS are also incredibly diverse—and they know how to have fun. Here's what their Director of Bioinformatics Software Engineering has to say about it.

"At SOPHiA GENETICS we have a very interesting and inspiring team. Our team is very diverse in terms of personal and professional background, and I do not take this for granted that in such a heterogeneous team we were able to develop such a positive and encouraging way of working together. It is also really fun. For example, when you're talking about politics in some country, you can turn around and just ask the person behind you, 'You're from there. What do you think?'"

See? Even software engineers like to have fun!

A winning mission supported by a winning culture is a surefire way to keep the top-notch talent coming.

4. Southern Ohio Medical Center - Abundant opportunities

A lack of advancement opportunities is one of the biggest contributors to employee turnover. And today's healthcare companies can't afford to turn a blind eye.

This rural community hospital from Ohio ranks #3 on Fortune's 2018 Best Companies to Work For in healthcare and biopharma, in part due to a firm commitment to moving their people up the hierarchy.

How do they do it

At Southern Ohio Medical Center (SOMC), 93% of employees say their workplace is great. Great challenges, atmosphere, rewards, communication, bosses—you name it. It's great. 👍🏾

And the reasons are pretty obvious.

For starters, the company has always had a "Grow Our Own” philosophy.

The fact that they're located in a small, rural location makes that the need for an always hot talent pipeline an absolute must. According to SOMC's official Great Place to Work profile, “Since it is often difficult to attract key talent into this area, a key strategy is to ‘grow our own.’ Advancement within the facility is welcomed and supported by internal and external educational opportunities. The majority of SOMC leaders including all the executives worked in other positions before assuming their current roles.”

SOMC might be one of the few healthcare brands where employees know that climbing the ladder is 100% doable.

What makes them shine

Advancement opportunities at SOMC aren't limited to lateral moves.

The medical center supports leadership development opportunities for any employee who shows an interest in becoming a great leader. Together, teams review case studies and role-play how they would coach each other in a given situation. Dedicated leadership groups include: Leadership Rounds, Coaching Group, Next-Gen Leaders, CORE Leadership classes and the Leadership Jump Start for new leaders.

5. Clover Health - Employee-led innovation

In a tight talent market, the only way to win passive candidates is to offer a pasture that is genuinely greener. You must walk your talk.

And one way to do that is through a deep commitment to employee growth.

According to a comprehensive research project by Middlesex University, 74% of employees felt they weren't achieving their full potential at work due to lack of development opportunities. Offering ways for your talent to grow and be heard is a great way to outrun the competition.

How do they do it

Founded in 2014, Clover is a health insurance company that's constantly growing. In fact, they went from under 100 employees to almost 500 in less than two years.

Thanks to a rockstar Employee Experience team, Clover managed to hang on to its awesome culture, despite its rapid growth — and innovation also stayed front and center. In one example, Clover’s Director of Internal Operations, Lizzy Justesen went way beyond her initial job description to take on commercial real estate responsibilities and even build a new Clover office from scratch — all with zero real estate experience.

Clover's dedicated Employee Experience team not only enables the employer to optimize its current talent, but it also empowered them to change their entire game from “scrappy to strategic".

They created better employee feedback loops, via a system called ‘Clover Chats’, to optimize their internal workflow and get more done. The super casual, monthly lunch sessions are a chance for employees to discuss the feedback gathered from suggestion boxes and make improvements as needed.

What makes them shine

Technically, any company with an annual review form can "listen" to their employees, but it takes a truly bold employer to act on that feedback.

“The hunger for learning is one of the many reasons we think Clover is such a special company. If you want to try something new to improve the lives of our members, you’ll get supported with the resources you need to experiment,” says Lindsey, Clover's Employee Experience Lead.

An open-door innovation policy backed by all the resources you need in order to make big things happen? Clover clearly isn't your typical insurance company.

Ready to go bold?

As tempting as it can be to follow in someone else's footsteps, each of these stories is really about the success of a strategically-executed healthcare employer brand.

Just as the focus of healthcare should always be on creating better outcomes for patients, the focus for healthcare hiring should always be on what you can do to provide a better experience for your candidates and employees.

With the vast and varied transformations happening in both healthcare and HR, some of these best-of-breed approaches might work for you—and some won't. Stay committed to consistently optimizing your unique hiring playbook, trying new and improved recruitment tactics and going that extra mile for your people. If you do that, the right talent is bound to come.

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