The Systemic Impact of Healthcare Staffing Shortages

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The Systemic Impact of Healthcare Staffing Shortages

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The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated acute conditions in the healthcare industry, particularly in staffing, making it even more difficult to execute major initiatives and achieve mission-critical goals. Our research explores the challenges and obstacles healthcare organizations face — and how they’re working to overcome them.

Research Overview

Business and clinical staffing shortages have drained energy and revenue from all other areas of the healthcare provider ecosystem. And, while healthcare organizations have undertaken digital transformation initiatives that would enable them to operate with smaller staffs, the very staffing conditions that forced the need for these mission-critical projects have made it challenging, if not impossible, to execute them.

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Scope of Research:

RGP recently surveyed senior executives at 404 companies with $1 billion or more in revenue, headquartered throughout North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific.

404 Executives Surveyed
101 Healthcare Organizations
$ 1000000000 Annual Revenue Per Company

Healthcare providers are failing at their mission-critical projects, with 25% saying less than half of these projects met key goals.

Hybrid and organizationally diverse teams pose top challenges 

Pandemic-driven staffing shortages gave rise to a hybrid model of organizationally diverse teams of employees and outside consultants — creating teams that can be difficult to manage. In fact, this is one of the top challenges cited by our survey respondents. This data points to the need for strong project and management support, something many respondents said their organizations lacked.

Other barriers to productivity and project completion included a lack of: 

  • Capable talent in key roles (32%)
  • Capable project leaders (29%)
  • Management support (21%)

Issues around the set-up and execution of projects themselves also emerged as problematic. These included:

  • Abrupt changes in project goals (32%)
  • Poor tools for project collaboration (37%)
  • Poor understanding of project requirements (16%)
  • Unrealistic project goals (13%)

With 20% of hospitals reporting acute staffing shortages, many healthcare organizations increased the number of consultants on their critical project teams.

Outside consultants are expected to comprise 48% of the average project execution team by 2024.

Key Insight:

Managing teams with people from multiple firms is one of the biggest challenges but also one of the biggest contributors to successful project execution. In other words, it may not be easy — but it’s worth it.

Why momentum is growing for a dynamic healthcare workforce

Despite the challenges of managing hybrid workforces, half of the healthcare respondents said that allowing project team members to work from home increased the odds of project success. And an overwhelming majority (84%) said coordinating people working from home and healthcare offices and facilities was important, very important, or extremely important to critical project success. 


Our study also found that tapping talented outsiders for key project roles is essential to project success, as is bringing in external project managers. However, most healthcare organizations have more work ahead to take advantage of a more dynamic workforce, with 63% saying changes to company policies will be necessary to bring in exceptionally talented outsiders for key project roles.


Strong Outside Talent



of North American healthcare executives surveyed said it was important, very important, or extremely important to bring talented outsiders into key project roles.

As healthcare providers make even greater operational changes in the next few years, these organizations will need project managers with the right mix of hard and soft skills to guide hybrid teams.

Additional Mission-Critical Research by Industry and Region

Interested in building a Dynamic Workforce with seasoned professionals who have the skills needed to execute transformation?

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