3 Ways Remote Work Has Affected the Healthcare Industry

Senior Director of Marketing

The healthcare industry faced the COVID-19 pandemic with creative technological solutions to deliver patient care while maintaining safety. These methods led many healthcare workers to move into remote and flexible work arrangements to address patient care demands. 

Two years later, that remote workforce is here and bigger than ever. Data projections by Ladders show that 25% of all jobs in North America will be remote by the end of the year, and that trend is expected to continue into 2023.

To remain competitive, healthcare organizations must create and fill new telehealth positions in the field while designing flexible schedules for remote workers.

Telehealth Expands Rapidly

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, healthcare organizations had to figure out how to implement telehealth technology quickly as an infection control measure. Two years later, that technology has become a staple of healthcare that requires a remote workforce to run efficiently.

As of April 2021, 64% of U.S. broadband households had used a telehealth service in the past year, while 34% reported they had to use telehealth services as the only option to see their doctor, according to a Parks Associates 2021 research report. The report also found that more than a quarter of survey respondents cited potential exposure to COVID-19 as a factor in using telehealth services. Approximately 28% of respondents opted for virtual consultations out of convenience — up from 22% in May 2020.

“I think a lot of healthcare-related jobs will continue to have a future with remote work, and hiring efforts should take that into consideration,” says Dr. Michael K. Newman of South Bay Plastic Surgeons. “If you’re only accepting applications who are comfortable working in an office, you are potentially robbing yourself of the opportunity to tap great talent.”

Schedules Become More Flexible

Workers want flexible schedules, and the statistics make their mandate clear. For example, nearly 1 in 2 people (48%) said that if they could no longer work remotely, they would start looking for another job that offered more flexibility, according to the Owl Labs 2021 State of Remote Work report.

Prudential’s 2022 Pulse of the American Worker Survey found that of the 22% of workers who switched jobs during the pandemic, a third said they took a pay cut in exchange for a job that offered a better work/life balance. In addition, 1 in 5 workers surveyed said they would take an average pay cut of 10% if it meant a better work/life balance or that they could work for themselves.

“Healthcare brands that center around virtual care models are attracting talent who want to live a more flexible lifestyle,” says Dr. Michael Green, Chief Medical Officer at Winona. “Finding ways to incorporate more telehealth opportunities into daily operations is one way for organizations to attract talent, even if it’s in a hybrid remote work setting.”

Healthcare Organizations Must Adapt

Healthcare workers have realized that there are jobs available in the field that can be done remotely or with a flexible schedule. They do not want to return to the days of long hours in an office or face-to-face patient care when remote or hybrid alternatives are available.

To adapt, healthcare organizations must embrace the technological changes that came with the COVID-19 pandemic and recognize that accommodating employee needs is the best way to recruit and retain talent.

“There’s no turning back,” Green says. “I think that in order for healthcare companies to thrive in the new normal, they will have to stay on top of emerging digital trends — not only in regard to telehealth platforms but also the innovative tools that will result from the virtual care boom.”