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MSP Blog February 24, 2022

6 Steps to Talent Planning with Solution Design

In any environment, healthcare organizations face challenges in delivering quality care to every patient in every setting. The ongoing pandemic has amplified these challenges in many ways, including resource constraints made worse by attrition and higher vacancy rates, causing physical and mental fatigue for the caregivers who remain.

The crucial importance of effectively managing talent requires organizations make informed and balanced decisions about solutions that address their immediate workforce needs while also aligning with their long-term goals. This is why we employ our Solution Design process: a decision framework to help healthcare organizations identify workforce strategies needed to acquire the right talent with the proper skills in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. Setting these strategies enable their team members to thrive and provide the best care possible for the communities they serve.

“The last 18 months have been a challenge for every organization,” said Will Morse, Vice President of Solution Design at AMN Healthcare. “The pandemic has affected every health system differently, and even within an organization there is nuance to consider. Our Solution Design process helps our clients take a holistic look at what they are really trying to solve, then gives them the confidence to make the right decisions for their patients, team members, and organization.”

What is Solution Design?

Solution Design is a guided and collaborative process that helps health organizations navigate their strategic talent journey by:

  • Bringing useful market insights
  • Facilitating the development of an organizational workforce planning and management vision
  • Identifying current state talent challenges and opportunities
  • Aligning solutions to help optimize and accelerate meeting talent initiatives
  • Architecting a process and plan to implement a solution that brings talent strategy to life

In the case of a healthcare organization, that goal is often to reduce unnecessary costs and complexity to enable better patient outcomes.

Successful healthcare organizations seek to take an active role in tailoring the blueprint to solutions they utilize. As a true Solution Design partner, we bring all the tools and techniques to empower our clients to be active members of the discovery, design, and implementation process – even if the solution determined necessary is not something we provide. Doing this allows our clients to build internal consensus, which reduces the time to standup new processes while driving consistency and effective change management.

Part of the Solution Design process includes establishment of an Executive Charter that creates a way to assure the healthcare system is aligned in the specific purpose and outcomes associated with a solution. The executive charter also helps organizations establish clear governance for decisions and approvals to assure the successful implementation and ongoing operation of strategic talent programs. Additionally, it helps identify and build consensus between key relationships at the facility and enterprise level, giving the program structure and guidance from the top down as well as input from multiple subject matter experts and key stakeholders.

Every organization is different, and this level of transparency, alignment and communication is important in helping the entire team understand the best way of addressing the nuances of each facility’s talent needs. It also assures solution processes are fully optimized and made standard at the enterprise level to give everyone a clear understanding and a path to follow to ensure success.

Benefits of Solution Design

Utilizing our Solution Design model compels an organization to truly understand the talent challenges they are trying to solve and creates a framework for a shared vision of what success looks like, as well as the path to get there.

Often, organizations are quick to implement a solution without a 360-degree understanding of all the inputs that are factoring into the problem, nor having a clearly articulated goal. For example, some organizations will purchase and implement scheduling tools to fix staffing challenges without first having a clear understanding of current workforce planning processes and talent acquisition dynamics that could be exacerbating staffing issues.

Applying solutions to problems without applying a structured effort to explore market conditions, internal issues, and gain an understanding their current state will likely result in wasted time, effort, and resources and be counter-productive to getting talent to the patient’s side.

“I have never seen our clients have to shift so dramatically as I have during the pandemic,” said Morse. “They are weighing complicated dynamics and we are here to help see all the variables and help them navigate through resource constraints in the most cost-effective way possible.”

The Six Steps of Solution Design


Understanding Market Forces

The first step we take in Solution Design for a talent management initiative is providing insights and validating the market dynamics affecting our client’s clinical and non-clinical hiring and retention of core and contingent labor. We bring market-specific knowledge and research as well as proprietary data analytics to help hiring managers and leaders understand and validate their experience of trends in:

  • Workforce planning benchmarks and practices
  • Candidate supply and demand
  • Their multi-generational workforce
  • The current regulatory climate
  • Changing healthcare practice settings, and the effect on their healthcare workers

Again, every organization (and even each facility within an organization) will be different and have unique challenges and opportunities. Having a facilitated forum to validate local, regional, and enterprise market dynamics helps organizations to align and prioritize their key talent initiatives.

Establishing the Vision

Once there is an understanding of the market dynamics and the talent landscape across an organization, it is important to establish a vision of what success will look like. Engaging with health system leaders and key stakeholders, we work with the client team to conduct an exercise and collectively identify desired outcomes, best practices, and potential investments in strategic labor management.

When asked the question, “What does strategic talent management success looks like?”, visions of the future held by leaders within the organization may not entirely align. This exercise is a great way to flesh out ideas and explore the different perspectives in the room. Participants are encouraged to share ideas based on their understanding, experience, and knowledge of best practices at the facility, region, and system level. In this exercise, no idea is out of play and all contributions are welcome and valuable. This discussion captures an inventory of what is currently being utilized within the organization and establishes a unified point of view across leadership for a framework of strategic labor management.

Current State Assessment

Once the vision is established and leadership is aligned, the next step is to analyze and explore the organization’s greatest challenges and identify opportunities for optimization through technology, automation, standardization, and consolidation of critical staffing and workforce management functions. During this exercise, contingent and core talent organizational pain points are identified and documented within the entire talent management process.

“By facilitating the consensus journey with our clients, we get to see them really come together and align,” Morse said. “They're identifying priorities within the framework we lay out, and we all gain a clear understanding of their landscape; challenges and opportunities to optimize their efforts to reach their strategic talent goals.”

Creating a unified point of view and agreement on priorities to optimize the talent management function sets the foundation for solution exploration and mapping, which is the next exciting step.

Solution Mapping

Once the vision is established and the current state is understood, it’s time to conduct an honest self-assessment of the organization’s degree of resources, expertise, and desire to manage key components of their current and future talent program. During this exercise, leaders are asked to rate the amount of involvement the organization wants to have, and can provide, in establishing the strategic talent management process. This does not mean identifying their level of commitment to the process, but the amount of internal versus outsourced work that will be necessary for success. This will vary by organization; some will have the resources and internal talent to conduct much of the work, while others may choose to lean more heavily on our capabilities.

During solution mapping, we help clients navigate not only answers to how to address talent planning and acquisition, but also how to best leverage their talent in new ways using technologies and innovative programs such as virtual care and flex pool management.   

“The point of Solution Design is to develop an understanding of how to get the talent of our clients to have a bigger reach to their population of patients,” Morse said. “When they are leveraging their healthcare professionals to the top of license and have the right technologies to more effectively deliver care, then that’s a huge win for their organization and community.”

Change Readiness Assessment

In healthcare, change is a constant. Organizations that proactively manage change and gain buy-in from their teams become more agile and can flex as needed.

Organizational readiness for change is based on clarity of the vision and its communication, as well as having the right skills, incentives, resources, and direction. Our change readiness assessment helps the leadership team understand the degree of change management needed to implement strategic talent initiatives.

The change management approach guides how an organization prepares and supports individuals through the process of successfully adapting to change and driving organizational success and outcomes.

Project Planning & Management  

The sixth step in our Solution Design process takes our client through go-live and beyond. In this stage, we provide the strategic talent solution architects and implementation managers to do all the “heavy lifting” for healthcare system project management, technology configuration, and administration.

Utilizing Six Sigma Business Performance Improvement tools, we establish key milestones and deliverables and outline potential risks and barriers. We identify and engage with the key stakeholders of this part of the process and align the team on the program business case. This work sets the foundation for an efficient and accurate implementation and is an integral part of our proven implementation methodology which results in successful transitions that are efficient, non-disruptive, and cost-neutral.

Create the Blueprint for Success

By partnering with AMN Healthcare and leveraging our approach to Solution Design, organizations can simplify complex problems, clearly identify steps to an agreed-upon goal, and understand their true starting point. They can then implement solutions mapped to their challenges and tailored to their goals. By adding change management, organizations can move forward with a clear vision and communication plan that has everyone understanding the journey and rowing in the same direction.  

For more information on how we provide a roadmap for your long-term talent needs, please email or visit our Talent Management page.

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