The lift is worth it for organizations seeking to launch complex initiatives that improve patient care and experience, says Zachary Tisch, vice president of strategic growth for Pivot Point Consulting. Such efforts may require knowledge-specific fields such as data analytics and population health.
“Using staff augmentation to bring in some expertise can build up those programs in large health systems through someone who can bring a plan and put the right governance around it,” Tisch says. “That person should serve a player/coach role.”
In other words, these need to be people who not only can get a project across the finish line but can also serve as mentors and help position programs for success.
There’s more to consider beyond the skill set, though. “Because there is an outsider coming in, we do a lot of staff coaching; a lot of the initial work is adapting them to that particular client,” Tisch says. “If you haven’t built the bridges, you can’t build the right team dynamic.”
That dynamic hinges on successful integration of augmented and in-house IT teams — a crucial step for efficiency and team morale, McCallister says.
“If you create that team approach and have a mix of each, I think it’s a healthier model by fostering partnership, collaboration and finding those niche skills,” he says.
Remote Work Boosts Staff Augmentation Potential, Availability
The ability to acquire temporary staff quickly and to “test-drive” their roles are key reasons why McCallister prefers staff augmentation.
“With the right staff augmentation partner, you create a relationship and the ability to be fluid in who you bring on and how long they stay on,” he says. “If you have a blended team, it’s the way to go.
“If it’s a new and exciting project, we should not defer to our staff augmentation program, and we make sure we have the right people working on the right projects for the long term.”
In a way, finding the right people has become easier. Just as it has for many full-time healthcare IT staffers, COVID-19 also has pushed IT staff augmentation deployments remote, which has vastly widened the available talent pool.
“It’s had a huge impact on staff augmentation, and it has blurred the line between staff augmentation and full-time employees,” McCallister says. “We’re not going back to what it was, and it creates opportunities that weren’t there before.”
Tisch says he expects the trend toward increased use of IT staff augmentation to accelerate due to the growing health IT infrastructure — including the need for seamless data exchanges, better connections between payers and providers and care delivery supported outside the four walls of a hospital or clinic.
“It’s getting more complicated every day, so it’s hard to know where to place your bets — that’s why we see staff augmentation,” Tisch says. “It allows you to solve that problem in weeks instead of months, and for that reason, there’s going to be a continued need.”