Healthcare Staffing: A Guide to ATS and VMS

Posted by RiAnn Bradshaw on 10/9/20 12:59 PM

Topics: Health Care Staffing, For Recruiters

We're always releasing content and insights to help our audience understand the market fully.

Previously, we've released guides for agencies to understand VMS systems, but wanted to update and release a more comprehensive overview. Below you will find information that helps define and categorize ATS and VMS systems to bolster your decision making for your business.

Healthcare Staffing: A Hiring Manager and Recruiter Guide to Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) and Vendor Management Software (VMS) Systems

Healthcare staffing agencies and healthcare recruiters are constantly bombarded with acronyms and alphabet soup.

Between ATS, VMS, PBJ and CMS alone you can find industry-crossover and get fairly mixed up. To add onto the complexity, buying human resource / HR technology and software is a massive operational decision. We want to dive into the topic and help fill in some blanks to make your next software decision a good one for your company.

What should you look for in an Applicant Tracking Software System or ATS?

It's ideal that this type of recruitment tool can follow a nurse candidate or physician candidate through the full applicant lifecycle. An applicant tracking software in general would cover

  • Cloud-based infrastructure and online access
  • Job posting, distribution and job applications
  • Talent pool management
  • Internal employee access and permission controls
  • Workflow customization
  • New hire onboarding and document management
  • System analytics and reporting
  • **Neutrality in the owner company, parent company or venture capital funding company (You may already know why, but we will break it down in detail)

Cloud-based infrastructure and online access to an applicant tracking software (ATS) system in healthcare recruitment is imperative for so many reasons, but the number one today is the simple need for remote accessibility. Nice to have perks can include mobile apps for time and attendance tracking, smart candidate matching, integrative job boards, etc.

An integrative job board helps with job posting and distribution but that's only a small piece. An ATS for healthcare would ideally have functions to link up with industry-leading job boards and send job needs out those funnels to receive applicants and candidates back into the ATS upon their application.

Managing a pre-existing talent pool or the newly acquired talent pool is a key functional need in an applicant tracking software system. Being able to automatically generate a list of credentialed, compliant and relevant candidates at the moment of receiving a job need increases your speed to market and sets you ahead of competition. Your preferred ATS would have this functionality.

There are a lot of moving parts in a company that staffs healthcare providers. Internal employee access, vendor access, candidate access and their related permissions should match your needs or at least be flexible enough to customize how your operations need them. If it doesn't, is there a reason or an industry necessity behind it that may have gone unseen? For instance, a system admin should never have permissions reduced, so there could be room for conversation as you research your ATS platform vendors.

Customizing the workflow and procedural patterns is definitely a helpful feature, yet you should still consider the necessities of your industry when selecting software that comes off the shelf. You don't want to spend an entire quarter configuring your software versus landing in a specified platform and hitting the market with momentum.

Your company's recruiters need to spend time recruiting candidates and matching them with minimal manual interference to maximum your revenue generation. New hire onboarding and document management like compliance credentialing should be built into a healthcare ATS or your team is going to be spending half of their working hours pushing papers left and right. There are tons of software integrations that claim to automate this or that, but at the end of the day what is the absolutely necessity in the healthcare staffing industry? It's being able to pass an audit by the Joint Commission. Make sure your ATS is ready for that type of data management and workflow.

bluesky healthcare staffing software applicant tracking software vendor management software

System analytics and reporting like payroll-based journal reports, time to place, how many "touches" your recruiters deploy to candidates, territory management reports and more related system analytics will make your COO, CEO and CFO personas happy. Why? No more spreadsheets to get an at-a-glance report. You can even leverage these types of reports for future business decisions. Your preferred ATS should definitely have accurate, real-time and granular reporting. Otherwise you're just being served up "round numbers" and that leaves gaps in the finances.

When choosing an Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) system, do your background research on who owns the software.

Do your research. If you are working within the Managed Services Provider business model that is prevalent in healthcare staffing today, then you need to be sure who owns the software you're using to run your business. Industry giants are constantly, and it is meant that this is a constantly evolving strategy, purchasing VC funding firms, small agencies, SaaS vendors in the industry and then turn to unscrupulous business practices to monopolize the labor availability to hospitals and healthcare facilities. One of many examples, company AMN purchased software as a service provider ShiftWise in 2013 but kept the VMS's original brand. Though not an ATS specifically, many ATS platforms will by necessity send their caregivers through this software in order to place them at a facility. How many healthcare staffing agencies are literally signing away the right to rehire or redeploy their temporary nurses and contingent staff, their locum tenens providers are auto-enrolled in a non-compete / anti-solicitation, all of this just because they didn't research the ownership of their software choice?

Do your research. Find out if they are VC funded or privately owned. Find out who the owners are and if they have a "horse in the race" or are truly vendor neutral. Your business future definitely relies on this.

How is the Vendor Management Software (VMS) system taken into the healthcare staffing scene?

Chances are, if you have a contract with a large health system or hospital, then you are staffing through a Managed Service Provider using a Vendor Management Software. By its inherent nature, a VMS is just a software tool. Do not mistake a VMS with an MSP, it's one of the most common industry faux pas that SaaS companies in healthcare staffing see. A VMS is very likely an expanded version of an ATS. Multiple tiered permission controls, user-type groups and security features are massive benefits in an ATS yet are absolutely necessary in a VMS.

BlueSky's Vendor Management Software System is built with this in mind, expanding upon the natural Applicant Tracking Software systems within its core platform and efficiently managing vendors and scheduling on top of typical applicant management.

Are there more things to consider when choosing an ATS?

While the above are the imperative features of an ATS that will set your healthcare staffing efforts on the successful path, there are definitely more pieces to the puzzle. The below list of additional questions and ideas will help prepare you for software demos, sales conversations and empower you to make an informed decision.

    1. Do you have an API to integrate with external software, like payroll processing and internal time tracking?
    2. What makes your software unique, how does that prepare me for success in the market?
    3. What is the candidate experience like within this software?
    4. What is my experience going to be like once I sign up for this software platform?
    5. Is this software platform secure, HIPAA compliant and ready to protects all the data entered?



Don't forget, BlueSky Medical Staffing Software is a Sponsor for the Staffing Industry Analysts 2020 Healthcare Staffing Summit. If you participate this year, stop by our digital booth and give our team a shout-out. Keep up the good work out there.

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BlueSky Medical Staffing Software is an applicant tracking system, vendor management system, staff/nurse scheduling system, and invoice/payroll tool combined into one suite for clinical talent and contingent labor management. BlueSky has been empowering the healthcare and hospital staffing industry for over twenty years by solving expensive operational problems in business and organizations.

BlueSky is the only staffing software available on the market today that is healthcare specific, accommodates full lifecycle recruitment, front-to-back-office workflows, medical credential management, vendor management, workflow automation, and more.

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