Interview with VP of Innovation, Tracy Hankin: Healthcare’s Digital Landscape & Leveraging a Specialty Strategy

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The following is a transcript, edited for clarity and brevity, from an episode of The Workforce Solution, an interview series about the most pressing topics in healthcare staffing and workforce management from Health Carousel’s family of brands. With each episode, you will leave inspired and armed with ideas and information to do what Health Carousel does best — improve lives and make healthcare work better. 

Tracy Hankin serves as Health Carousel’s VP of Innovation and GM of Lucidity.

For more interviews, see Health Carousel’s Resource Library.


Moderator: Health Carousel is ranked among the top staffing agencies in the nation and among the fastest growing, too. It provides comprehensive services to handle workforce needs in the healthcare industry. Tracy Hankin, VP of Innovation, brings years of experience as she leads Health Carousel to the forefront of the digital landscape within the travel healthcare industry.

Tracy, can you give us a little insight into why you love working at Health Carousel and how a specialization strategy serves the Health Carousel client base?

Tracy:

The reason I love Health Carousel relates to both of these; it relates to Health Carousel as a total entity, but also Health Carousel Locum Network: It’s the people. I’m sure that a lot of folks, especially in this company, say that, but I’ll sort of take it one step further. And I’ll say it’s the people but it’s the people because we happen to attract talent that isn’t too dissimilar to the talent we attract to help our clients. The way I mean that specifically is everybody here seems to really have not only a passion, but a true soft spot for wanting to really improve healthcare, really make healthcare work better, and impact patients lives– and also the providers’ lives that we’re putting to work to help those patients. That’s a passion point of mine; it has been for a long time. And so I really appreciate working with like-minded people who are motivated and passionate about the same things that I am.

Our clients are coming to us often because they have an urgent, critical need in one specific specialty area. Our ability to not just bring an account manager and a recruiter who have worked across many lines of business, but our ability to bring in folks who have worked in that specific specialty area for many years, in most cases, sets us apart from many of other competitors who are just trying to jam volume through the pipeline as quickly as they possibly can, and get the client a provider as soon as they possibly can.

Our specialty focus really puts the best and brightest on our side to work for the client to be able to recruit that top level talent. There’s a war for talent out there, so our ability to put our best foot forward and win that war for talent enables us to deliver better, higher quality matches and providers for our clients.

Moderator: With a clear focus on specialization this year, Hankin details how Health Carousel is utilizing technology to better serve customers and how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted volume and the business at large.

Tracy:

Health Carousel was one of those companies looking around the corner at what’s next. We still do that across many different areas of our business. But one of the areas that I was really fortunate to be a part of where we were doing that was in the locums business. We were looking around the corner, looking at the trends. We were trying to figure out: What really do we need to be on top of that we’re not as on top of right now? What do we see coming? Where do we want to make investments?

And so we decided about a year and a half ago, a little more, that one of those key areas was in offering our providers, our talent, the physicians, the advanced practitioners and the nurses, was the ability to actually [browse jobs on demand]. If they want to talk to a recruiter, of course, we’re always going to have that available to them. But my goodness, if they’ve just got a few minutes between appointments, or they’ve just got a few minutes after they get home from a long workday before they have to be on for their family, and they want to fill out a profile so that their profile (their sales sheet for themselves, right?) is ready for new opportunities or work. They can be out there being seen by employers who might need help. We wanted to give them the ability to do that. Maybe the hours of 5 am to 7 am are the only hours they have available in their day to do it. Or maybe it’s at 11 at night. We wanted to give them the ability to do that and not have to require them to talk to a recruiter.

Our digital platform enables the employers– any of the medical and healthcare employers out there– to come on, post their jobs or search for talent on their own, if they choose to. If they want to talk to one of our account managers, they always have that option open to them as well.

It’s just expanded our ability to engage when, how, and where people want to engage.

Okay, so how has it changed during COVID? So a couple of things. One of the most important things is I think, with many this is maybe going to sound a little bit crazy, but our lives are different, right? Our lives are different from the moment we get up in the morning to that moment we go to bed at night. Some of us have kids who are still doing virtual learning. They haven’t gone to a day of in-person school since [the COVID-19 pandemic] started. 

That’s not just you and me, right? That’s also our clients. That’s also our talent. That means that many of the providers that we might work with to help them find and land a job opportunity might be struggling between trying to help guide their children in a virtual school environment and also, you know, be on the front line working in a medically-oriented job. They could be trying to juggle both.

They have very little time to look. They’re getting burned out at work. They have very little time to look for the next opportunity. So, it really provides the talent that we are trying to help find that next opportunity. It really provides them flexibility and during the pandemic, that’s been at a premium.

Guess what? It also applies on the employer side. You might have some of these hospital administrators who are going 1,000 miles an hour the entire day and they’re working long hours because the hospital doesn’t shut down; the COVID patients don’t stop coming. Their staff doesn’t stop getting sick and their staff doesn’t stop burning out. They have people retiring early. They have people out because they’re sick. They need that entry point, that access point to be able to search for talent, when and where they have a spare second. So it’s really enabled them to be able to do that as well.

Moderator: But what’s needed to really facilitate these changes and implement these new ways of thinking and working? People, Process and Innovation. Let’s hear how Health Carousel has done it.

Tracy:

We have people on board, from business development, through to account management, through to recruiting, who love the challenge, who were up for the challenge, ready to pivot, who are ready to be asking those prying questions and looking around the corner.

Again, it’s reminded us that we can’t sit back on the couch or rest on our laurels, right? We got to always be looking out there for what’s next.

We need people who are willing and able to do that and have experience being successful with that type of strategy and approach to their work.

It’s not only having those folks who look curious, and always willing to ask the prime question and always looking around the corner. They also have to be resilient to get through this time, because they may have been the all-star recruiter or the all-star account manager in one or two specialties in the past and maybe times have changed.

Moderator: So, how will this technology really move the needle and improve the client experience? What’s the true benefit, and how is this technology and approach to innovation disrupting the healthcare industry?

Tracy:

It’s actually pretty exciting because in order to really make sure that we had confidence behind these statements related to your question, when we were approaching clients, we wanted to make sure we had the data to back it up.

So, what we have seen is our clients, when they come to us, they have a critical need in some specialty area for a physician, for an advanced practitioner [or] for a nurse.

They want to get that talent in place as quickly as possible, so they don’t miss a beat on the patient care side and on the revenue production side.

Why do they care? In working with a firm like Health Carousel, who has all the specialized teams and all the experienced recruiters and account managers to give them white glove, the highest level of customer service that they could want, they not only have that, but they also have a digital platform where they can choose whether they search for talent on their own or not.

Let’s put that aside because here’s the kicker: The real reason it matters is because what we have seen is our digital platform is attracting talent across physicians, advanced practitioners and nurses that are holistically different from those physicians, advanced practitioners and nurses that are already in our database or coming in through our traditional recruiter means. So it gives our clients an expanded pool of talent to choose from.

My dad is gonna drive himself to the airport every single time he has to get on the plane, right? Like, let’s put pandemic aside. I’m gonna take an Uber ride every single time I have to go.

You have different users out there. There are physicians who just are fed up, don’t want to talk to a recruiter. For whatever reason, that’s not an attractive experience for them. But while they get online and fill out their profile, and select the kinds of job opportunities they would like to work at? Heck yes, they will.

And we want to bring in the maximum number of physicians, advanced practitioners, nurses we can. And so if that means reaching out to them in several different ways to try and engage them so that we can bring that broader talent pool to our clients? Well, we’re gonna do it, and our clients benefit.

I pointed to the specialization around digital strategy, digital implementation, digital platform, work, etc. But what I didn’t highlight, which I think is another analogy that that many can relate to, is this: 

If Health Carousel were to hire in a consulting firm today to help with a project or to hire in an investment bank in order to help with a new acquisition that we might be looking to make, for example… we’re not going to go out and get Joe Schmo consulting firm or bank that doesn’t have any experience in the healthcare space, right? We’re going to seek out a professional services firm, heck, a legal firm. If we’re going to hire an outside law firm, you bet we’re going to hire a law firm that has a lot of healthcare experience.

So, I just think it’s important to remember this specialization focus we have that we’re concentrating on for our clients in HCLN, the locums network part of our business, is not at all different from what we have seen across many big businesses out there. Whether it be legal firms, consulting firms, or banks, you really do see this level of specialization, especially by industry or type of business across many of the biggest companies out there.

At Procter and Gamble, you do not have the same general manager and team making decisions about Pampers as you do about Old Spice. It’s holistically different because the customer target is different. The value proposition is different and you can better serve your end customer by having that level of specialization.


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