COVID-19 has injected a new level of uncertainty into the lives of clinic managers throughout the country. As lockdowns swept from state to state and the healthcare system prepared for an expected swell of sick patients, regular appointments dried up along with a good chunk of clinic revenue. This forced many managers to reduce staffing costs through layoffs or furloughs. Others delayed making critical hires because the environment was just too unpredictable.
Fortunately, the pandemic has been less severe locally than first predicted, and many people in Washington are now resuming activities they’d put off or avoided during the lockdown. However, there’s still much we don’t know about the future, which makes hiring decisions especially challenging. That’s why, in this environment, using temporary or temp-to-perm employees is the smart choice for clinics.
Hiring is never easy, but under pandemic conditions, it may be harder than ever. Clinics cannot reliably predict patient volume in the near term, because it’s impossible to anticipate the severity or timing of future COVID-19 surges. To further complicate matters, flu season is right around the corner, which could make current conditions even worse. If another surge does arrive, how will it impact clinic volume? If patient demand does increase, will you need more providers onsite or working remotely? The worst outcome would be to staff up in anticipation of a need that never arrives or to suddenly find yourself scrambling to keep up with a rush of patients needing care.
The pandemic also could impact your existing staff. Many area schools are conducting remote learning in the fall, which means parents will face increased demands at home that could interfere with work. There’s also the real possibility that some staff members could fall ill and be completely unavailable as they recover. How will clinics fill these critical staffing holes when they’re already scraping by with a trimmed down team?
In the face of all these variables, the goal is to keep up with demand and push efficiencies and throughput to make up for revenue lost in spring and through the summer. Clinic managers should begin exploring possible strategies now so as not to be caught flat-footed in the fall.
One effective solution to these problems is to beef up staffing deficiencies with temporary or temp-to-perm staff members. When clinics hire full-time employees, they become locked into set costs, which are painful to escape when circumstances change. By contrast, hiring temporary workers allows clinics to meet their most pressing needs while staying nimble in the face of an uncertain future. Temporary workers can pick up hours for staff facing caregiving responsibilities at home or for staff members who might fall ill. Temporary workers can also help your clinic meet a short-term surge in patient volume during a bad COVID/flu season.
For clinics that are considering hiring new staff, but are holding back due to present circumstances, temp-to-hire workers can beef up employee levels on a trial basis. Managers can then decide at a later date whether to transition temporary workers to permanent positions or to move on if the need no longer exists.
Of course, most clinics don’t have the resources to recruit, screen, and onboard these temporary employees. With practices changing more than ever, clinic managers need to save their bandwidth for the activities that will keep their practice moving in the right direction. That’s where staffing companies like Med-X can be of service.
We screen and recruit a pool of qualified employees that we match with local clinics in need of temporary staffing support. If a customer decides they want to convert a temporary employee to permanent, we help with the onboarding process. In many cases, we’ve built long-term relationships with our clinic partners, so our team understands their challenges, workflows, and pain points. That knowledge allows us to provide the most efficient and effective support possible.
If you’re concerned about your staffing position going into the fall, it’s time to start planning today. Med-X always offers consulting conversations free-of-charge, and we’re happy to share what we hear from our industry connections. Let’s start the conversation now, so we can quickly react to the changes in your practice and maximize revenue. After all, we’re all in this together.