Healthcare Staffing Is the New Data Commodity

If you have nursing credentials, and are willing to travel to meet the ever-shifting (and ever-growing) demands of healthcare providers, chances are that your contact information will be part of varying bundles of data bought, sold, or traded by nurse recruiting websites. This isn’t necessarily a bad thingand it’s a subject I think about a lot since my SEO client Accurate Append is in the business of providing the most accurate email, cell phone, and landline contact data.

Healthcare professionals are the gold standard of the contemporary tight professional labor market. Healthcare CEOs list their biggest rising expense as the money they spend competing for talent. Hiring rates are incredibly high now and are expected to either stay the same or even grow in 2019. According to the “Modern Healthcare CEO Power Panel survey,” about 75 percent of CEOs responded that “front-line caregivers are most in need.” No wonder the unemployment rate for practitioners is only 1.4%, while the rate for assistants and aides, higher at 3.4%, is still well below the typical 4% unemployment rate. If you want to be in demand, be a healthcare professional.

And if you want to be in even higher demand, be a Registered Nurse (RN) who can travel. These stats are unbelievable. RN employment overall will grow 15 percent over the next 8 yearshigher than pretty much any other profession. Travel nurses are hired on contract to fill temporary gaps in nursing, and the industry is benefiting from increasing participation by states in the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC).

The recruiting game for these (often highly-specialized) travel nurses is in full steam. Kyle Schmidt of the Travel Nursing Blog has a fascinating piece on the emerging market for the personal contact information of nurses who make themselves available for travel services. This demand is met by gathering data from prominent services like travelnursing.org, travelnursesource.com, rnvip.com and others, but it’s also met by more traditional healthcare staffing companies which, although they don’t sell contact information to their partners, simply generate their own leads to fulfill their clients’ needs.

When this data is collected via the web, it’s done through website visits where visitors are encouraged to provide their contact information. Those sites are using old-fashioned, but reliable, methods of getting people there: Kyle points cites stats by Conductor, a digital marketer, that “47% of all website traffic is driven by natural search while 6% is driven by paid search and only 2% is driven by social media sites.” Paid advertisements are virtually ignored in comparison to naturally clicked links, while “75% of search users never scroll past the first page of search results.”

How are nurses convinced to provide their contact info? The answer is through the advertisement of “broadcast services,”  which promise to provide candidates’ information and availability to agencies. The business model works even if the broadcast service doesn’t get a lot of money for providing the data, because the web sites are very basic, often managed through content-management systems, and don’t need to be heavily maintained.

This steady (and often high-speed) increase in recruiting needs is part of maybe the longest term employment trend in the U.S. today. Hospitals have been using contract labor to fill in for massive nursing labor shortages at least since the late 1990s. Over a million and a half jobs were added from 2004-2014, and as we know, these vacancies kept growing in the last five years. A June 2019 market research report sheds some interesting light on the healthcare recruiting industry–some facts that might explain why the recruiting game for nurses seems so data-driven (and dependent on contact info-fishing at such a volume-driven level). While we know the labor market is competitive, what we do not know is whether particular states and regions will have consistent demand for  nurses. This is because, while we know government spending on Medicare and Medicaid is expected to increase in 2019, the ongoing political volatility around healthcare spending means that there may be bumps in the road, unexpected windfalls in unexpected places, and unexpected losses of funding as well.

All of this leads me to ask whether contact info data collection and distribution for the nursing industry might be streamlined and made more efficient over time.  We know that hospitals’ human resources departments “use analytics for recruiting, hiring and managing employees,” but there’s a divide between how big and small facilities collect and manage this data. According to the Nurse.com blog, big hospitals “have sophisticated human resource management systems for employee records and talent management, while small facilities and clinics often rely on free analytics tools such as job sites, email clients and search engines”analytics tools provided by sites similar to the data collection and distribution sites mentioned earlier.