Canada’s healthcare system is suffering from a staffing crisis, with unfilled positions in healthcare and social assistance remaining high, accounting for 1 in 5 (19.9%) job vacancies. This comes on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic which created an unprecedented demand for healthcare resources.
A recent report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information found that 18 million overtime hours were worked in Canada’s public hospitals between 2020 and 2021, which is the equivalent of more than 9,000 full-time jobs.
This demand was felt across Canada’s healthcare system, from hospitals to long-term care homes, and caused lasting cracks in the system, especially when it comes to healthcare workers.
A recent poll conducted by B.C.’s largest healthcare union revealed that more than half of care aides feel they don’t have enough time to meet the needs of all their patients, and 48.5 per cent say the stressful work experience over the last three years has made it likely they will leave the healthcare industry altogether.
With a network of over 30,000 qualified workers, Staffy has successfully filled over 100,000 shifts with top-tier talent. We sat down with Peter to dive into how their platform is bridging the gap between healthcare workers and healthcare organisations.
Let’s start off with the basics – based on your experience, what is driving the unprecedented shortage of healthcare professionals in Canada?
PF: Many people point to the pandemic as the triggering factor in the healthcare staffing crisis, but there are many compounding factors that have created this problem. The pandemic was, of course, an important factor, with many healthcare workers such as nurses in hospitals and personal support workers (PSWs) in long-term care homes pushed to their limits for the duration of the pandemic which led to mass burnout. However, the other factors at play include the recent increase in violence against healthcare workers and the larger baby boomer generation cohort entering retirement.
What are the impacts of the healthcare staffing shortage felt by Canadians?
PF: There is no question that the healthcare staffing crisis impacts patient care. This can look like extended wait times for care, shutdowns of rural hospital emergency rooms in the summer, as well as errors in patient care. For example, a nurse working an understaffed shift may lack the bandwidth and resources to be as thorough as they would like in their patient care to no fault of their own, which unfortunately might impact the patient experience.
Now that we’ve outlined the problem, let’s talk about solutions. How have you built Staffy to help address the healthcare staffing shortage?
PF: In building Staffy, we originally designed it as a workforce optimization tool for the hospitality industry to help address the issue of absenteeism. However, we pivoted during the pandemic to support healthcare organizations as their staffing needs grew at unprecedented rates, as they had asked us for support to help address their staffing challenges.
Staffy essentially creates a bridge between healthcare organizations and qualified healthcare workers. We take on the vetting process of each healthcare worker before they can access our platform, verifying their qualifications as a first step so healthcare facilities can review their credentials with confidence. Healthcare organizations can then refine their experience on our platform by defining their needs, from the desired skills they are looking for to the preferred rates they are open to paying and reviewing qualified talent accordingly. On the healthcare worker side, they also have the opportunity to refine their experience on our platform by setting their own rates and available hours.
From a healthcare worker perspective, how does Staffy help address some of the root causes of their burnout?
PF: Staffy is a game-changing platform because it gives healthcare workers the power to take control of their careers, and healthcare facilities the ability to hire who they want, when they want. Many healthcare workers, especially registered nurses, lack flexibility in their roles which can lead to burnout. Since the pandemic, healthcare workers have seen the rest of the world adopt flexible hybrid work policies, but unfortunately, their role does not lend itself to this format. However, where we can afford them more flexibility is in enabling them control over their hours to achieve a better work-life balance.
With Staffy, registered nurses and PSWs can customize their working hours, set their own rates, and even choose where they want to work. This enables healthcare workers to get a breadth of experience working in hospitals and long-term care homes with different specialties and increase or reduce their hours as needed. For example, a registered nurse dealing with burnout from the pandemic may choose to reduce their workload at the hospital to a part-time role. They can then use Staffy as a supplement to their permanent role, leveraging the platform to take on a few extra shifts a week on their own terms.
How do healthcare organizations leverage and benefit from Staffy’s platform?
PF: We are proud to have the privilege of supporting leading healthcare organizations across North America. From renowned hospitals to LTCs and retirement homes, we are dedicated to ensuring that healthcare organizations have on-demand access to the highest calibre of talent when they need to scale their workforce. This makes us the trusted staffing choice for industry leaders seeking to address staffing shortages, optimize cost savings, and tap into a diverse pool of top-tier talent within minutes. With our comprehensive approach, healthcare organizations can confidently rely on us to meet their staffing needs and achieve operational excellence, which ultimately will increase patient satisfaction and lead to better healthcare for all.
How does Staffy set itself apart from other staffing solutions such as nursing agencies?
PF: This is a great question because I think the distinction is really important as we often get lumped in with nursing agencies, however, we operate very differently. Unlike nursing agencies, the healthcare workers who use our platforms are not employed or contracted by us, so the platform is not designed to replace a healthcare worker’s full-time employment. We are simply the conduit between qualified healthcare workers and healthcare organizations who have open shifts to fill and fulfill the necessary vetting process. Another important distinction is that Staffy does not set or negotiate the rates for healthcare workers, this is entirely driven by the healthcare workers and organizations. As a result, hospitals and clinics can avoid being overcharged and healthcare workers can avoid being underpaid.
In an ideal future, Canada will have healthcare staffing under control. What would Staffy’s role look like in the healthcare system then?
PF: The reality of the healthcare industry is that there is always a demand for care. Especially given Canada’s aging population, we foresee a growing need even beyond the current staffing crisis. We are well positioned to support healthcare organizations, whether a hospital or a long-term care facility, to scale their workforce with qualified and fully-vetted healthcare workers as this need grows.
Looking ahead, we also aim to build on our success by expanding our tools into a comprehensive HRIS for healthcare institutions across North America. Our goal is to provide accessible software solutions that support healthcare organizations in effective workforce management, such as a credential management tool, a scheduling platform, and other software products that are innovative, and geared specifically towards healthcare, which we understand to be a gap in the current market.
The focus of these tools will be to reduce inefficiencies and administrative burdens. For example, tasks like verifying credentials, monitoring updates, maintaining compliance, managing access, and recording audits are manual and time-consuming. This aligns really well with our goal of helping improve efficiency, reduce wait times, and enhance patient satisfaction for healthcare organizations.