America's healthcare system has its foot stuck on a train track and the evening express is hurtling down the track.The train, in this case, is a severe shortage of physicians that, at least as projected, continues to hang over the system. The Association of American Medical Colleges projects that America will be short by 122,000 physicians it needs by 2032.
The shortage is driven in large part by a runaway demand for more docs. And that demand in large part is driven by the crushing wave of people aging into the most medical expensive years of life—ages 65 and over.
Some 10,000 people turn 65 every day. And that population and its health plans spend 36 percent of all money spent on health care in the U.S.
That's a problem. And the odds are that most doctor's offices and hospitals are feeling the squeeze already.
At the end of the day, if patients can't be seen by a competent care provider in a timely manner, they will go somewhere else.
That's why being fully staffed with physicians is a must for all health care organizations.
Here's how an agency can help you find that needed locum tenens physician to keep things going.
Why Use an Agency?
This is more of a rhetorical point. But there are some basics here to understand.
Business-to-business providers have very narrow focuses for their business, often of one facet of business operation for a particular industry.
On the other hand, a business that serves the general public or a large population has to take on all the necessary business functions to ensure operations run smoothly. Those back-office functions come on top of the actual service of the business.
Contracting some portion of back-office operations – such as staffing - often provides greater efficiency, ease, and (if things go well) savings to a company. But the bottom line for most business operators and managers is that contracting with agencies takes something off their plate so they can focus on more pressing issues.
Locum Tenens Physicians Save Lost Money
To reiterate, if there isn't a licensed healthcare provider in your facility, patients won't come and your organization won't make any money.
Having a locum tenens physician fill in a vacancy prevents lost revenue from a lack of staff.
And having a temporary stand-in can help prevent what could be a larger cascade of lost revenue. The average physician sees about 20 patients a day and has a full patient load. If you have a full practice and one doc walks, the rest have to take on his or her patients, adding to the strain of the other physicians.
On the other side of the coin, a doctor who leaves a practice and will want to find some work where they can get it until they find a permanent place to practice.
Unrooted physicians can find work, stay engaged in health care, and gather experience through engagement with a locum tenens agency.
Use the Agency's Momentum
Because of the specialized capabilities of an agency, a lot of the hard work of putting together searches, networks, job listings, background checks and the like is well enough established to move through these "hurdles" faster than in-house recruiters can.
Further, many of the processes of managing prospects, communicating with other groups, credentialing, and advertising can gain efficiencies if the agency automates certain processes.
And what if you aren't looking for a primary care provider? What if you need a very specific specialist? Or, you want a doc with a very specific background? It can be a real challenge to find those. people on your own!
The rarer the specialty, the rarer the candidate and the least likely that they will self-select to apply for open jobs. Agencies know where these people are, often because they helped place them at some point. Or, they know where these kinds of contacts can be found through their networks.
Great Outside of Shortages, Too
Locum tenens physicians are also a great way to scale up a practice or an office. Often, there will need to be an underlying business move that will undergird the hoped-for growth that will require more physicians. But once that move is done (like a new investment in the organization), there often isn't time to wait until a permanent candidate can take newly needed positions.
When an organization starts to grow, there isn't enough time to find talent once things get moving. Not having the needed talent in place is a wasted growth opportunity.
Find Those Who Want the Work
Locum tenens work isn't guaranteed. That means that a physician in this line of work is often looking for work and wants to have the job you are offering.
There is an unfortunate stereotype of medical providers that provide contract work — that they aren't committed because they know that their stint is temporary.
But this is untrue. In fact, the opposite is more likely; those that do locum tenens work, live, and die by the recommendation of their previous employers. Agencies are constantly doing background work and know all the tricks to find out where people are at as people and professionals. Further, they are always trying to satisfy their employers by finding top-notch talent.
Between a physician that needs to make a good impression to keep working and an organization that puts their reputation on the line with every placement they make, one can be assured that the placed provider will commit to doing well.
Go Deeper with Locum
There is so much more to working with locum tenens physicians than spelling out what the role requires. And without the right tools in place, running a health care operation can go from a dream to a nightmare in a minute.
Reach out today to see how we can bring the best services and technology to bear on your staffing efforts.