Despite the influx of federal funding in response to COVID-19, it’s a mild understatement to say that the state of employment and life in general is uncertain and disrupted. Speculation abounds around what life will be like when normalcy resumes: Will telehealth and telecommuting continue? How long will we wear masks and clear the shelves of sanitizer? When will we really be on the downslope of the illustrious curve we’re all trying to flatten? So much is yet to be seen, but one clear solution during this tumultuous time is that staff augmentation in healthcare IT may be more valuable than ever for the foreseeable future.
We’re not Angling for Staff Layoffs
Let us start first by making it crystal clear that we’re not advocating that hospitals and health systems lay off their IT staff. Now more than ever, people are depending on their jobs where they can keep them, especially as initiatives like the Payroll Protection Program are created to encourage employee retention during the Coronavirus Crisis. The idea isn’t to ditch loyal employees and seek out the cheapest option. No, our focus is to leverage the flexibility of staff augmentation for hospitals to weather the storms of this virus well, for however long this season lasts.
Healthcare IT as we Know it will Change
COVID-19 has been a historic event that many of us will be talking about and dealing with for decades. (Heck, we’re still in it!) For hospitals in particular, practices and tools will be reconsidered permanently given what we’ve learned (often the hard way) as a result of this rapidly-spreading pandemic. Healthcare IT will see changes across the spectrum as we collectively focus on population health and infectious disease screening and contact models, and the technologies and solutions will certainly reflect that.
Not to mention, we’ve seen a rise in acceptance and usage of virtual IT solutions and apps, as well as telemedicine taking the lead as first-line care to triage suspected COVID-19 cases. While mass adoption of the cutting edge healthcare IT solutions always seemed just around the corner, it seems we’ve eagerly incorporated them into nearly every facet of current patient care to better tackle the aggressive virus. We applaud this progress, though of course lament the means.
Healthcare Staff Augmentation Reduces Long-Term Burdens for Health Systems
As a result of this massive shift and forward momentum, there will be a desire and need for health systems to seek out the best long-term solutions and strategies to recover from the current strain, as well as prepare for what could potentially come next. Increasing healthcare IT staff in the wake of an economic crisis could be challenging on several fronts, be it resource burn out, budget deficits, increased demand, etc. But staff augmentation is a fantastic solution to overcome these challenges given that highly-skilled healthcare IT resources are leveraged only for the time and focus needed.
For example, if it’s determined that Epic optimization projects are needed to better prepare and respond to the fall out effects of this acute crisis, Epic project teams can be assembled using contract resources who are able to swiftly implement changes to the EHR (and peripheral integrations) without requiring benefits, overhead, etc. Simultaneous health IT initiatives are possible when employed staff are not overly taxed, but rather supplemented with trainers, developers and project managers on an as-needed-basis. This ensures the critical work gets done efficiently, while reducing the need for hospitals to carry additional staff for the long-term.
Contract Healthcare IT Resources are Adaptable and Effective
Hiring a healthcare IT firm to source and staff Epic initiatives (or any others) also creates an environment in which the current climate of employment is far less of a disruption to advancement. It would be unwise and simply untrue to say that anyone has gone unaffected by COVID-19, but project-based staff augmentation resources are accustomed to remote work. Teleconferences and lacking requirements aren’t unusual for these folks, and certainly having the expertise to roll with challenges of stakeholder attention despite accelerated timelines (due to pressing needs) is not going to stall out progress. Whereas hospital IT staff may work optimally with fixed variables and due process, contract Epic project teams are adaptable and can pull from extensive experience overcoming hurdles…be them novel diseases or novel integrations.