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How North Shore-LIJ Is Acing Its Talent Search

Michael Hickins
Sr. Director of Strategic Communications

A widely anticipated decision on Obamacare by the US Supreme Court later this month could upset the administrative applecart for healthcare providers nationwide.

The outcome of this case is one of several factors leading to a transformation of the US healthcare industry, forcing hospitals such as New York-based North Shore-LIJ to reset how they hire, train, and retain employees.

Few industries are undergoing as much fundamental change, from how companies get compensated to the types of services they provide.

And those changes"driven by, among other factors, the rise of for-profit hospitals, industry consolidation, an aging employee population, and changing insurance practices"are causing human resources leaders to ratchet up recruitment with an array of new programs and technologies.

"The downstream effects of this changing landscape is causing me to rethink each and every strategy around talent that we deploy," says Elaine Page, chief talent officer at North Shore-LIJ, the 14th-largest healthcare system in the US and, with a workforce of more than 54,000, the largest private employer in New York State.

Principal among these changes are Obamacare insurance reimbursement regulations that give healthcare providers incentives to offer more comprehensive and preventive medicine.

Many states are also now allowing for-profit hospitals to compete in an industry that has been mostly not for profit.

Now that New Jersey has approved for-profit hospitals, for example, the entry of for-profit hospitals into New York State is "inevitable," according to North Shore-LIJ Health System CEO Michael Dowling.

 

Aging Population

The aging population of nurses is another significant challenge for hospital recruiters. One-third of US nurses are over the age of 50, according to a 2013 report by the US Heath Resources and Services Administration.

"More nurses in healthcare overall today are over the age of 50 than at any time in our history," Page says.

One issue North Shore-LIJ doesn't have is a shortage of applicants. Page says the health system receives over 15,000 applicants per month. The challenge, she says, is identifying the right candidates for the right positions.

North Shore-LIJ uses analytics and other ACE features in Oracle's Taleo Recruiting Cloud Service to help process applications swiftly and match candidates with open positions.

Hospitals have all kinds of jobs, from transporters who wheel patients from room to room, to administrators, counselors, nurses, and medical specialists of every kind.

With the change in business model from fee-for-service to holistic wellness, patients increasingly (and properly) regard themselves as customers, and they will shop for hospitals that, for instance, don't make them wait in a hallway for someone to push them into surgery, or make someone available to speak with their families. That change in patient attitudes can turn personnel shortages into a competitive disadvantage.

"Roles that you might think are less important"front desk personnel, meeters and greeters, patient transporters"are an important element of service," Page says. "We can't have roles like that open very long. Oftentimes, we've gone through a laborious hiring process. We've not been able to get people to interview quickly."

The HR software, she says, "can really help with speed, really help with differentiation. The analytics give us the ability to discover where we need to be concerned, where we have gaps."

Performance Insights

The Oracle Talent Acquisition Cloud application not only has helped North Shore-LIJ fill those positions more quickly; its analytics functionality also helps administrators discover where they're getting their best candidates, identify employees who are progressing, as well as those who aren't, and analyze compensation trends.

North Shore-LIJ uses the cloud software to identify candidates with the right mix of experience, skills, and emotional aptitudes"people who are flexible and nimble, who are comfortable with a certain amount of ambiguity, who can manage risks, and who have organizational savvy, Page says.

As it shifts to a more holistic approach to patient care, North Shore-LIJ also uses the software to identify candidate physicians suited to that more collaborative environment.

The lone wolf doctor who has been prevalent in the industry for years is going to have to learn a more collaborative and gentler approach, because there'll be many personalities and many disciplines on those teams that surround the doctor doing the work he or she does," Page says.

And because it's a cloud service, it is also a mobile service, which she says is critical at a time when "life is done on a smartphone."

Even in such a highly regulated industry, North Shore-LIJ has established policies that allow it to take an appropriate amount of risk while remaining compliant.

Says Page: "Those are the healthcare organizations that will win in the market, and win the mindshare of employees."

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