Guest post by: Charlotte Evans
It is true. The HWS Labor Market Pulse® Index shows hospitals in the San Francisco Bay, Philadelphia and Tampa areas are ramping up recruitment, even though just last month other hospitals across the U.S. were laying off employees. As the economy continues to recover and health care reform shakes out, hospitals will be competing for the very best physicians and employees. And, it will be a contest between the savvy and digital-friendly hospitals versus those who lag behind.
Here are two examples of progressive recruiting:
- Memorial Healthcare System in Hollywood, Fla. attracts physicians through channels such as advertising on medical journal Web sites and outreach on online physician-only search networks. Physician-only networks including the heavy weight Sermo and Medscape Physician Connect continue to attract large numbers. Manhattan Research’s 2009 “Taking the Pulse” study reveals that 99 percent of physicians use the Internet so it is smart for hospital HR to recruit where their target audience is interacting. Memorial’s physician recruiters agree that digital adoption among physicians is widespread, including older physicians.
- HealthLeaders Marketing Editor Marianne Aiello reported how Geisinger Health System in Danville, Penn., used a Facebook page to recruit gastroenterologists. The page includes photos, recruitment event information and links to the system’s Web site. The return on the investment is still being calculated, but the marketing professionals believe that “outreach … has to be multi-pronged.”
By contrast, human resource staff at the recent HealthcareSource User Conference in Boston discussed the use of social media in recruiting. Of the 30 participating in a roundtable discussion, only two hospitals had a formal social media strategy for recruiting. Most admitted that they not only lacked a strategy but lacked knowledge of what to do. Several participants mentioned being cautioned by hospital executives to avoid social media for fear of what can be posted. The marketing department wanted to approve all postings, which seemed burdensome. Plus, recruiters didn’t know who should respond to negative posts.
These dilemmas weigh heavily on HR departments since Millennials, especially new nursing grads, expect employers to be conversant in digital communications. In just 15 years, the U.S. will be short 260,000 nurses. Wooing the young ones now is crucial.
It is time for the marketing and communications professionals to step in. Many departments have established digital communications including tweeting and streaming video during surgery. A number have social media policies – how to respond to negative comments and who responds. Marketers and IT departments have established policies on employee use of Facebook or Twitter (not during working hours), and social media staff know what to tweet and what not to tweet. Still other hospitals are using iPhone apps to reach consumers and smartphones to help surgeons report back instantly to the referring physician about the patient’s status.
Professional communicators know how to engage online users. They should reach out to HR staff to get them to use digital communications and reveal what is working for their hospital. Because public relations and marketing professionals depend on communications tools to reach targeted audiences, they are perfect for guiding HR, taking recruiters under their wings and assuring that HR supports the overall brand.
The landscape is hard to predict but recruiters – and marketers – don’t have time. If marketers want a high quality hospital to market, they need to reach across the hall and help recruiters attract a high quality work force – and a large enough one.