Healthcare is one of the most regulated industries in the United States. As legislators argue over the ACA, universal healthcare, and other aspects of the way that healthcare functions and is regulated, the future remains constantly in flux. For those who work in HR, this means a state of always being prepared to meet new requirements while ensuring that the workforce is fully trained to offer the best overall care possible to patients.

Regulatory requirements are only part of the story, though. The current social climate certainly impacts healthcare as stringently as it does any other industry. Issues raised in the past few years, such as the #MeToo Movement and diversity in the workforce have taken center stage in dictating the way we hire and manage employees.

As society changes, healthcare is on the front lines in facing these changes while offering compassionate services to patients in need. For HR, it means constantly staying updated on new protocols to develop the best possible protocols in hiring and training competent staff. As we move into 2019, new challenges are emerging that need thought and attention in order to build excellent teams and a safe environment.

HR Challenges for 2019

There have always been specific challenges for healthcare HR. Hiring highly skilled staff while making sure your new hires add positively to the organization’s culture has always been a top priority and will continue to be important. Here are five of the top challenges you should consider as you move forward in the coming year:

  1. Shortage of Qualified Staff. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, we’re heading into a period where there will be a severe shortage of Registered Nurses. That issue will intensify over the coming years, as the large demographic of baby boomers age, leave the workforce, and need advanced medical care. But this issue isn’t only prevalent with the nursing staff. Healthcare organizations are seeing a high turnover rate in employees, often within the first year of employment, across multiple different disciplines. This makes it a job seeker’s market, which can make hiring the right staff more difficult. It’s necessary to develop excellent procedures in order to build a good hiring protocol, as well as a work environment that values employee satisfaction.
  2. Complex Compliance Issues. Complex compliance issues are the standard in healthcare and that’s not going to change at any point in the future. Because the current and future regulatory requirements are in a state of rapid change, it’s important that your staff is capable of not only keeping up but of mastering each new regulatory requirement with ease. This might include outsourcing certain aspects of your administrative needs or hiring in house.
  3. The Issues of Workplace Violence. Recent stories in the news, such as the shooting at a Chicago area hospital, have put a spotlight on workplace violence in hospitals. While that incident stemmed from a domestic violence situation, healthcare is no stranger to issues of possible violence and it’s important for you to develop a protocol to deal with any scenario. Your staff is dealing with every type of individual, which can put great stress on the staff and put them in close proximity to patients who may become violent. It’s important to work out good procedures before they become necessary.
  4. Cyber Security Issues and Employee Training/Vetting. Cyber security is increasingly important, especially for healthcare organizations where patient information is often sensitive. Healthcare organizations are also becoming a high priority target for hackers who launch ransom attacks, and often the organizations pay these criminals in order to gain control of their system again. While that means you’ll need to consider IT protocols to keep your systems protected, your first line of defense is in employee training and vetting. A high percentage of data theft can be traced to employees. In some cases, this is malicious. Often it’s a matter of employees not using the best protocol in using workplace technology.
  5. Developing a Hiring Strategy. If you’ve been hiring staff members on an as needed basis, it’s time that you consider developing a strategy for all of your hiring needs. A good hiring strategy will help you fill positions with the best qualified staff members but it can also help you to build a strong organization culture, which increases satisfaction and lowers your employee turnover rates.

There are always new challenges in the healthcare industry. The good news is that you can overcome all of these obstacles to build a stronger organization with a proactive approach to your HR protocols.