How AI Helps Combat Healthcare Staffing Shortages in Rural Facilities

Healthcare staffing shortages are not going away anytime soon. With remote and rural healthcare facilities often more challenging to staff than urban ones, finding solutions to these shortages is critical. While locum tenens services can help round out your staffing mix by providing temporary providers to work at your facility, the rise of AI is another tool you should consider. In this article, we’ll go in-depth about how healthcare facilities can use AI to ease staffing shortages.

When time and resources are often the enemy to combat staffing shortages, AI may come as a glimmer of hope to help offload redundant tasks and speed up the staffing process.

The Rise of AI in Healthcare Staffing

AI isn’t just a buzzword anymore. It’s a tool that nearly every industry is learning how to utilize and leverage to save time, consolidate manual tasks, analyze information, and more. Administrative tasks are one of the most significant areas in the healthcare sector, and we will begin to see AI creep in. AI software is likely becoming integrated into many software programs your team already uses, including EMR systems or other task management systems within your facility.

In healthcare staffing, AI can improve efficiencies, automate tasks (especially ones that are repetitive), and improve candidate interactions, such as screening and sourcing. AI also can help staffing agencies match candidates with jobs based on the job description and the candidate’s qualifying information. Job descriptions for new job postings can also be written using AI, getting them ready to post for job seekers in record time.

Understanding AI’s Role in Easing Staffing Shortages

Very soon, if not already, AI will play an essential role in how you manage the day-to-day operations of your healthcare facility. SIA says, “Staffing industry leaders expect AI to replace nearly 40% of recruiting cycle activities within three years, starting with candidate screening, selection, and deployment.” Here are some of the key roles that AI will play to help you navigate staffing shortages.

Predictive Analytics for Workforce Planning

Whether you are planning on partnering with a healthcare staffing agency like Wilderness Medical Staffing or working with your internal HR department, understanding your staffing needs can be highly beneficial before you begin filling open positions. One of the strengths of AI is its ability to analyze data and help predict future trends. A simple way to do this is by harnessing the power of AI software to analyze your existing historical data, trends, and future projections. The output can help you inform staffing decisions that ensure optimal staffing levels while helping combat burnout among your full-time staff.

In performing this exercise, you may realize that you have cyclical times of the year when working with more locum tenens providers makes sense due to tourism upticks or when your staff tends to be out on vacation more. You may also find that you can use AI data to help correct turnover rates or fill difficult shifts.

Having your workforce planning data ready can help if you work with a staffing agency like Wilderness Medical Staffing. It can help you to make better staffing decisions, so you’ll know when you need locum tenens providers to assist with additional coverage.

Automated Recruiting and Onboarding

AI software is quickly becoming an irreplaceable asset in healthcare staffing recruitment and onboarding, including in rural healthcare facilities. AI-driven platforms can streamline recruitment through sourcing, including matching candidate skills with open jobs. It can also help to summarize candidates’ profiles for healthcare facilities to review, communicate effortlessly with potential candidates based on how well they match position needs, and help to keep your openings filled faster. For healthcare administrators and HR professionals, integrating AI and automation can also help candidates complete the credentialing process. If you’re working with a staffing agency, these tools can also assist in finding candidates to match your positions.

At Wilderness Medical Staffing, we’ve started implementing AI capabilities and automation into the way we recruit and onboard. We recognize the transformative power of AI in revolutionizing the way we serve our clients and support our providers. By integrating AI technologies into our core processes—from sourcing and job placement to streamlining the credentialing journey—we can potentially expedite the job-filling process while tailoring the experience to meet the unique needs of each client and provider. This strategic use of AI enhances our operational efficiency but also directly addresses the staffing shortages our clients face, ensuring they receive timely, high-quality service.

Enhancing Retention Through AI-Enabled Support Systems

AI software can also help healthcare facilities with scheduling to support your current staff, indicating potential openings in staffing where you may need to fill staffing holes with locum tenens or temporary workers. Within your organization, you may be able to aggregate data from internal employee reviews, attendance records, or other engagement surveys to identify ways to improve overall employee retention. This data can be helpful when you welcome locum tenens to your community with a sense of areas to focus on and an understanding of where your organization really shines.

You may also be able to predict things like turnover. Do you find that staff who work specific shifts burn out and quit sooner, leaving staffing holes for you to fill? Are certain managers in your organization doing an excellent job to keep your employees thriving? AI can help you identify what’s working and what’s not, including employee morale and engagement.

How to Start Using AI to Ease Staffing Shortages

While tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT or Google’s Gemini (previously Bard) may be helpful for general AI use cases, you likely will need to research industry-specific software that can work with your compliance requirements and existing data sets. Many software systems, like your EMR system, may upgrade your software to include AI.

Assess Your Current Software Tech Stack

Investing in new systems and software programs without knowing your existing needs is typically a bad idea. Instead, assess your current software tech stack. What systems are you using? What works? Which systems are already adding AI capabilities? Work with your team to get input on what is going well and what isn’t.

Identify Your Holes in Software

Next, make a list of software “wishes.” If you could have a system that could do x,y, and z, how would that make your facility function better, your employees happier, and your team more efficient? Reach out to your software representatives to see if they have integrated AI solutions or are coming out with solutions powered by AI in the near future.

If you find holes in systems like staffing, it can be beneficial to work with a trusted partner like Wilderness Medical Staffing, which is already utilizing software intended for the areas where you need the most help.

Research New Software

Software companies are in a race to make the newest and best systems that work within various industries and harness the power of AI. Research your needs, including asking peers in your industry about what programs they might recommend. You will likely need to set up demo calls in this step, but be clear about what you need beforehand. For instance, do you have a system in place, like your EMR, that you’re unwilling to replace? Does new software have to work with that system? If any tech you’re researching doesn’t work with your existing non-negotiable systems, it’s probably not worth moving forward with.

Start Small and Scale Over Time

Just because AI is newer and trendy doesn’t mean you must simultaneously make significant upgrades. Changing technology can be complex for people, can come with a steep learning curve, and can come with a substantial financial investment. Be transparent with your team about the reasons for implementing AI and how new upgrades to your systems can help them. As cited from a study in the National Library of Medicine, “If individuals can seize the opportunity to master the knowledge and skills relevant to the implementation of AI, they could make career progress and improve their workplace well-being.” While AI is new and can be overwhelming, starting small can help your team and organization ease into the changing technology.

You may decide to work with a staffing agency utilizing some of these new technologies, allowing you to benefit from programs and innovations without the software investment. At WMS, since our entire focus is on staffing, we’re investing in technologies dedicated to helping with staffing shortages. We know that to stay at the forefront of the staffing industry, we must stay on top of technological trends, providing an overall better experience for our clients.

Overcoming Obstacles in AI Adoption

AI might be a new and exciting frontier, but it’s also important to keep in mind common concerns and challenges when adopting AI solutions in the healthcare industry. For instance, you want to understand how your data is used and how it will be kept safe. You never want to put personal data into AI software that may be used for continuous model training. If you’re unsure of how data is being used, be sure to have a conversation with your internal IT team or IT vendor.

Cost is also a consideration. Adopting new tools and software can be costly, so justifying the ROI of the investment will be necessary.

You’ll want to ensure you train your team on using AI, privacy considerations, and best use cases, considering that new tech may not be for everyone or every use case.

AI also has its limitations as a newer and ever-evolving technology. Partnering with a trusted staffing agency can help you utilize AI for your staffing shortages with less risk and financial investment.

Planning for the Future: AI in Healthcare Staffing

The reality is that AI isn’t going away. While it may be new, it won’t be forever, and it will continually change and evolve. Even if you’re trepidatious, investigating how AI can help your healthcare facility improve efficiencies and take over redundant tasks could be worthwhile.

Anticipate how AI could help your facility in the future. Reflect on your software wish list. Even if the capabilities aren’t available right now, could they be in the coming years as the technology continues to improve? Look to industry trade organizations and stay informed on changes in AI for healthcare facilities like yours. Take note of how others are using software to their advantage.


You may have guessed by now that AI isn’t a foreign concept to us at Wilderness Medical Staffing. In our own processes and technology, we see how we can harness the power of AI and automation to help fill jobs with qualified candidates for rural and remote healthcare facilities.

If you’re finding that you need additional support with your staffing shortages, we’re here to help with skilled and qualified nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and physicians.

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