Four Ways Technology Helps Solve Healthcare Recruitment and Retention

The Great Resignation hit the healthcare industry hard. Nearly one in three health care workers have considered leaving their jobs, and almost one in five have already quit. There are plenty of reasons why, including burnout, poor pay, layoffs and overall stress and frustration. And while these conditions are steadily worsening, the epidemic is projected to worsen still; by 2026, there is estimated to be a shortage of up to 3.2 million healthcare workers, costing the industry $4.6 billion annually.

Healthcare organizations need to look for ways to retain skilled workers and recruit new ones. They can achieve this by listening to their employees about challenges and addressing them accordingly, paying close attention to their needs for well-being, equality and safety.

Technology can also play an important role in combating workforce attrition problems. Armed with the right tools, healthcare workers can adapt to different circumstances as required, access real-time data at all times, work outside the confines of the hospital or clinic environment and, most importantly, reduce frustration. For example, tech-savvy younger workers appreciate the efficiency of the electronic health record (EHR), a digital version of a patient’s paper chart that provides secure, real-time access to patient records.  

The Right Tools Go a Long Way

In the healthcare field, technology opens up new opportunities for improving talent recruitment and retention while increasing the efficiency and quality of patient care.

Here are four ways that technology can improve health care recruitment and retention:

1. Making Home Health Care Easier

Home health care is here to stay, making tech more critical than ever. This trend can be attributed to many factors, including an aging population, continued hospital crowding and changing patient preference. As much as 25% of the total cost of care — $265 billion worth of care services — could shift from traditional facilities to the home by 2025.

Without dependable, rugged technology, medical technicians, nurses, physical and occupational therapists and other professionals may not be able to provide the best quality of service. Issues may occur starting with the journey to a patient’s house, which could take providers through harsh conditions, such as low temperature, high humidity or extreme elevations. They can continue inside the house, which could be extremely hot or cold. Carrying a rugged device that can withstand these extremes ensures smooth service delivery.

Rugged devices are also protected against chemicals, which is critical in today’s world of COVID-safe protocols. Those protocols, for example, require home healthcare workers to sanitize everything, including their devices. Rugged devices can withstand more than 10,000 sanitization cycles, while standard commercial mobile devices can’t withstand more than a few dozen. Additionally, rugged devices can feature a glove mode, which not only supports use when health care providers are wearing one or more sets of medical gloves, but thicker gloves that protect from the cold as well.

Effective home health care also requires reliable connectivity. By choosing a device with an embedded modem and the capability for 5G, healthcare workers can access and transmit data in real-time. That’s especially important today, as all relevant information must be efficiently and securely uploaded into a patient’s EHR. Pairing a secure, HIPAA-compliant EHR software application with handheld devices used for patient service makes the process more efficient, enabling providers to view patient vitals, lab results, medication information, health history, patient notes and diagnostic imaging quickly.

2. Providing the Right Features

While it’s certainly possible to carry and set up a suitcase full of equipment at each house, it’s time-consuming. Additionally, multiple pieces of equipment presents more opportunities for failure. One solution: an all-in-one mobile device that can take the place of a computer and a phone, ideally in a rugged form factor. Typically, 2-in-1 models enable users to switch from tablet to laptop mode. At a minimum, features should include integrated barcode readers, detachable keyboards and a touch screen.

  • Integrated barcode reading. With an embedded barcode reader on a device, healthcare workers can easily scan patient records, wristbands and medication barcodes.
  • Attachable/detachable keyboard. For those times when healthcare workers need the full computer experience, an attachable keyboard can make everything go more smoothly. When finished, the worker can remove the keyboard, turning the device back into a tablet.
  • Brightness: With home healthcare especially, healthcare professionals never know what the environment will be like. To that end, features like brightness are very important. To ensure maximum brightness, look for devices that are more than 1,000 nits. For comparison’s sake, note that the sun at noon is rated at 1.6 billion nits, but that most mobile devices have between 200 and 400 nit.
  • Touch screen: Touch screens are invaluable for quick input and patient signatures.
  • Magnetic/smart card reader: An integrated reader can make the processes of verifying member eligibility and payment quick and easy.
  • Integrated EHR technology: Getting the most benefit from devices in healthcare settings requires compatibility with efficient healthcare software. For example, Panasonic TOUGHBOOK Android devices are certified with Dryrain Technologies for use on the MEDITECH Expanse software platform. This provides a secure mobile solution that protects patient data and keeps staff productive while in the field.

3. Enhancing Security

While security is typically an IT issue, it can also slow down work and frustrate users if not handled properly. That’s especially true in the healthcare world, which requires strict adherence to a set of privacy and security requirements. Technology solutions built with security in mind are a good start. Panasonic TOUGHBOOK®, for example, has standardized on Microsoft’s secured-core PC, which uses hardware-based security components like Trusted Platform Module 2.0 and Windows hypervisor code integrity service. These create an environment that isolates memory and critical components. Panasonic also follows the Opal Storage Specification to enhance the security of data storage devices.

To further ensure iron-clad security, consider mobile devices with more options for device security. Rugged devices tend to have more options for device security, including embedded fingerprint readers, infrared cameras for facial scans and contactless smart card readers. They may also support two-factor authentication, which is increasingly required by healthcare applications.

4. Improving Versatility With an Eye Toward the Future

Keeping frustration at bay while improving efficiency and pushing the limits of technology may seem like an ambitious set of objectives, but they are exactly what both current and future healthcare workers want. However, a healthcare organization changing the rules for how workers must interact with patients or the security measures they must take shouldn’t have to switch platforms or technologies.

With devices built on a modular design platform, adapting to new requirements is as simple as adding an expansion pack with those capabilities. Depending on the need, interchangeable expansion packs can include fingerprint readers, DVD drives, smart card readers, an optional second drive or second battery and different types of communications ports. The entire process is seamless, requires little to no extra training and results in zero downtime.

Retaining and recruiting the best and brightest is critical to successful health care. So is the right technology to make their jobs easier.