Australia’s leading guide to our ever-changing market
Health services globally are under significant pressure to balance increasing demand for high quality care with perpetual funding and resource constraints. In this dynamic environment, more and more clients are reviewing how they plan, implement and deliver “more with less”.
Through countless conversations with our clients around the world we have discovered that healthcare leaders are increasingly looking to their peers in other industries, such as financial services and the mining sector, to understand what they are doing to remain resource efficient and competitive in the workplace.
To better understand the current market situation and prepare for the inevitable changes in trends, we have conducted an impartial survey that looks at current issues from two separate perspectives: Executive (strategy and planning) and Administrative (delivery), in both private and public sectors, given that both parties play a key role in healthcare provision. Our findings clearly demonstrate the tensions between the two with regards to preference in tactics to achieve common goals; however, our report also puts forward potential solutions designed to turn those unavoidable tensions from stifling to productive.
What we found is that there are many healthcare sector challenges in Australia, which are also reflected in countries around the world; this enables us to learn about possible solutions and their effectiveness. As one would expect, there are also issues that are unique to this market, but for which we may adopt and adapt solutions from other sectors which have proven successful. This approach – lateral innovation – provides a very useful tool and opportunity for us to think differently about the challenges we face and the solutions we may offer.
Findings: Executive vs Administration
The survey consisted of varied questions around day to day operations, high level strategic planning, agency relationships, and overall market challenges. The questions were structured to facilitate open–ended and anonymous responses to key issues and to enable robust analysis of the current market.
Because of our dualistic approach to investigating the changing landscape of healthcare delivery, the findings were highly interesting. On the one hand, Administration listed limited staff to fill rosters, compliance issues and the expectation to limit the risk to the business without the necessary tools allocated, among their greatest workforce challenges. Executives, on the other hand, were most concerned with bureaucracy around funding, tightening budgets and retaining productivity for existing staff with the limited resources available.
The issues shared by both revolved around cost containment and risk management. Especially prominent were concerns about the sufficiency of internal systems and manpower to prevent the possibility of doctors entering the workplace who had not been screened effectively, including reference checks and compliance and immigration checks. The potential solution to this problem – the use of recruitment agencies – also appeared a somewhat divisive factor. Permanent employees were seen by Executives as a route to saving money, whilst locums were seen as a convenient method to fill the required vacancies more efficiently by the Administration level.
A look into the underlying market issues also revealed the added challenge of retaining high performing employees, a priority that has taken over from dedicated Human Resources search and selection capabilitiess. The pivotal questions here are:
- How to design funding and training programs to engage employees on a consistent basis
- How to produce a structured career development plan, provide adequate tools for staff to ensure they can achieve their goals
- How to mitigate the loss of staff including intellectual property, relationships and financial investment, all with a shrinking budget in an environment of changing market paradigms
Shifting trends: towards an individualised approach
The priority and approach disconnect between Executives and front line staff can be clearly seen throughout the industry, across both public and private institutions. This issue has derived from pressure on budgets and the expectation of delivery with fewer resources at hand. It was also noted that the internal communication of changes to strategy, staffing and internal infrastructure remains a frustration to Administration staff, who believe for the most part there is limited transparency around the security of roles at a day to day operational level. This in turn has an impact on staff morale and productivity.
Pressure on all Executive level staff to generate innovative ideas around lowering existing costs will be the greatest test over the next 18-24 months. Because of the “lag” effect of these measures, the long term metrics need to be well thought through. With this in mind the push towards a more commercialised approach in workforce planning can already be identified in several health facilities, and is also championed by a few senior staff who bring cross sector experience to the table.
We predict the trend for the coming years will be a shift from the outmoded ad hoc services provided by agencies, towards an individualised strategic approach requiring agencies to understand the goals and objectives of each individual hospital, therefore eradicating the ‘blanket’ approach to recruitment. Account management and personalised service offerings will be instrumental in third party suppliers developing long term relationships with hospitals as the market tightens. While both clients and suppliers are facing challenging times there are positive practices that have been discussed, scoped and implemented to ensure the industry continues to move forward.
Global Medics is a leading medical recruitment company for doctors, working across two continents in four countries – the UK, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand – and provides career and immigration advice for doctors looking to work abroad. For further information visit www.globalmedics.com.