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Apparently You Can Do It On a Phone

March 22

When I made brunch reservations for 17, I hoped they had a back room where they could stick us, because five of the 17 were children ranging in age from six months to four years. My fears were eventually assuaged when I realized we were packing at least 12 smart phones. My son, his wife and their six-month-old daughter had come to visit from Singapore, and they had assembled various friends and their children from all over the country.

When the four-year-old got cranky waiting for his pancakes, his mother handed him a phone without speaking. She was intent on visiting. He turned it on, found YouTube and started watching videos of trains. “He loves trains,” she said plainly as I watched his fingers manipulate the flat face of the phone.

“I swore I’d never do this,” my daughter-in-law said as she put the phone on an app that had been programmed to speak directly to my granddaughter using her name in every sentence. “But it works and she loves it,” she defended. My six month-old darling stopped fussing and began watching the little screen. It wasn’t new to her.

The value of mobile phones didn’t stop with the children. “Do you know how to get to the restaurant tonight?” one asked the other. “No, but I’ve got my phone.” No explanation needed. I remember when we needed to capture directions by writing with pen on paper. Now they type in an address and a dot on the phone takes them effortlessly to their destination.

“The Cats are up by 12,” said my son, letting me know that our beloved Kentucky Wildcats were winning at that moment. I didn’t have to ask as he looked up from his phone smiling. In previous years, how had I managed when my only option was waiting for a morning newspaper or the nightly news?

This group of thirty somethings didn’t wear a watch because all they had to do was punch the phone to life and the time was revealed. If they wanted to show a photo, they pulled out their phone. When they wanted to take a photo, out came the phone. One tyke had to be put in time out and they set the timer on the phone. The child knew he had to wait for the chime. When splitting up the bill they used the phone’s calculator. When a book was recommended, one ordered it over the phone with Amazon’s 1-Click. “Really,” I thought “over the phone.”

And, while texting from the phone was the major form of communication for this group, one did make a phone call to his mother. “She really doesn’t like to text,” he said “she’s old.” I think she is younger than I am and she is the exception to the rule, but it was good to know they still made calls from the phone.

The smart phone is at the center of everything these professionals do and finding a new job is no exception. They want to do it on their mobile device. They expect to do it on their mobile device.

Virtually everyone under forty has a smart phone. And, that includes all demographic groups. Minorities (in case you are interested in diversity) have a higher percentage of smart phone owners across all age and socioeconomic groups than Caucasians.

Excluding tablets, using mobile devices to access the Internet has doubled each year for the last three years and it is clear this rate will continue to double and triple.

Many of the Fortune 500 companies already have the ability for candidates to apply for a position over a mobile device, but healthcare providers have been slower to adopt. They shouldn’t for a number of reasons.

Healthcare professionals access the Internet via mobile devices at the highest rate of any professional group other than Realtors. Eighty-eight percent of Registered Nurses say they have used a mobile phone to look up drug interactions and other clinical information. Since 2009, graduate nursing students at the University of Virginia have been required to have a mobile device because they are expected to access the Internet for research and medical information quickly. Amazon sells more mobile apps of the Johns Hopkins ABX Guide than they do hard copies.

Manhattan Research says 81% of medical doctors own smart phones and they access them regularly for medical information. Hundreds of apps are ready for download that provide research and medical information for not just MDs and RNs but also physical therapists, pharmacists and lab professionals.

Mobile usage goes beyond just research. Kaiser Permanente announced in January that nine million of their patients now have the ability to access their own medical information via their mobile phone and 68 million Kaiser patients found their lab test results on their phone in 2011. Many of these mobile friendly individuals are the very people you want applying for a position with your facility.

Generation Y, or those aged 33 and younger, account for over 50% of the work force and Baby Boomers are retiring at the rate of 11,000 per day and they will continue for the next 19 years. If we are going to effectively recruit these younger, skilled healthcare professionals, we must stop acting like it’s 2005. As the Baby Boomers leave, we’ll need these younger employees at a rapidly increasing rate.

If being able to provide access for individuals to apply via their mobile devices seems too much right now, at least recognize that you need to harness these smart phones as much as possible. Ask on your application if the phone number they are providing is text enabled. I think I’m like most busy professionals who, when my smart phone begins to vibrate or sing, I look at the number and if I don’t recognize it, I don’t answer. If I get a text, I read it.

Recruiters should provide a phone number where the applicant can respond to a text by simply pushing a button and the call is placed. That way, even if you are docking recruiters to an old-time landline, they’ll get a callback almost immediately. Otherwise you’ll be caught in an ugly game of phone tag that will disconnect with your Generation Y candidates.

The healthcare professionals you need, will continue to expect—even demand—that the recruitment function keep up with the rest of the world. Most healthcare providers have figured out they need to respond the same day to hot job applicants who apply on-line and they have developed systems to ensure they don’t lose candidates due to slow response. Nonetheless, healthcare systems that realize everyone is on a smart phone, and they provide a way to apply from that device, will be way ahead in the war for talent.

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