We rely on talented healthcare professionals to be there when we need them, providing the care that keeps us healthy, happy and productive. But as the population ages — and there’s an increased demand for services as more people need access to care — the healthcare sector faces widespread talent shortages that are expected to grow worse over the coming years.

As more baby boomers approach retirement age, healthcare institutions are struggling to recruit, hire and retain talent to take their places. More than half of today’s nurses are over 50 years old and 43% of physicians are over age 55. Facilities are working hard to hold onto the talent they hire, with average healthcare turnover rates exceeding 19% in 2015.

Our own data reveals a mismatch between the number of healthcare jobs and the number of job seekers searching for those jobs. For example, searches for home health aides tracked closely with job postings in recent years, but in 2016, job postings began to outpace searches and the trend lines diverged.

What can healthcare recruiters do to overcome these hurdles and find the talent they need to keep facilities running at full steam? Let’s look at four strategies to optimize healthcare hiring practices amid fierce competition in a fast-changing industry.

1. Use technology to reach more qualified candidates.

Technology is revolutionizing every industry, and healthcare is no exception. As you try to attract younger candidates to your organization to replace retiring baby boomers, it’s especially important to master the tech tools that can modernize your recruiting processes.

To reach the millennial and Generation Z cohorts, mobile-friendly job search and application processes are crucial. However, one survey found just 33% of healthcare employers have a mobile-optimized career page, and only 27% have a mobile-friendly application process. If you haven’t already, now is the time to prioritize these digital updates.

Your ATS has the potential to eliminate time-consuming paperwork and help you identify your best hiring sources. But the same survey found just 27% of healthcare employers believe their ATS is accurately tracking applicant sources, with the majority relying on self-reporting by applicants. If this sounds like your hiring organization, it might be time to refocus efforts to make sure your ATS is working for you and supplying your team with accurate data.

Finally, job search today begins with online search, so make sure you’re allocating enough of your healthcare organization’s recruitment advertising budget to online job search engines. When you advertise on Indeed, you gain important data insights that can help you find and hire more of the nurses, physicians and specialists your facility needs.

2. Build your reputation in the healthcare industry with a strong employer brand.

New graduates and experienced professionals alike are researching your organization before deciding whether to apply. Do you know what they’ll find?

Healthcare environments can be notoriously tense. It’s up to you to show candidates what are you doing to make your organization a better, more rewarding place to work. Use your Company Page, employer reviews, career site and social media profiles to showcase your organizational culture and tell compelling stories about your workplace and employees.

Bridge these digital efforts with your in-person employer branding activities, like maintaining a presence at local health fairs and sending your talent team to job seeker events at local medical and nursing schools.

3. Get creative with benefits and scheduling to stay competitive

Healthcare organizations competing for top talent are being called on to innovate when it comes to compensation, benefits and flexible work environments. According to Barkley Davis, senior director of physician recruitment at LifePoint Hospitals, debt relief is the top priority for nearly all new physicians, and hospitals should explore new types of financial incentives beyond just salary. For example, LifePoint offers some doctors monthly stipends if they accept a job offer while they’re still in training — building employee loyalty months before these new hires are even on the job.

Other healthcare organizations are attracting talent by experimenting with new types of teams and scheduling models to meet staffing needs while offering greater flexibility to employees. “[The baby boomers’] exodus may quicken the pace at which hospitals make much-needed changes to their staffing models to meet the demands of the new and still emerging healthcare landscape,” writes Paul Barr for H&HN Magazine.

Look for ways to implement policies around flextime and telecommuting where it makes sense, and talk to your workforce and candidates about the benefits that matter most to them. Some will prefer traditional benefits packages, but others might prioritize opportunities in learning and development, mentoring and career growth.

4. Develop and nurture candidate pipelines to prepare for the future

Be proactive in your efforts to attract future candidates by building strategic talent pipelines at the local and national level. The American Hospitals Association recommends partnering with national and state workforce boards, public health departments and professional societies, as well as universities, colleges, academies and high schools. Develop comprehensive programs to formalize and direct these partnerships as an investment in your future workforce.

“Invite partners to attend quarterly information sessions with your CEO, so they have a better understanding of your future workforce needs and can help you develop new strategies to meet those needs,” the association advises.

Make diversity recruiting a priority, not only to demonstrate your commitment to better serving everyone in your community, but also to ensure sufficient talent for candidate pipelines in coming years. Look to a diverse variety of schools and organizations to reach more candidates and build a workforce that reflects your population.

We know hiring for healthcare roles are difficult. That's why Indeed offers a full suite of products to help you find the best healthcare talent anywhere. Visit indeed.com/hire to get started today.