Originally published May 2018. Updated on November 17, 2020.
The U.S. health sector has seen tremendous growth over the last century. Demand for medical providers is outpacing the supply so organizations are turning to provider staffing firms to fill the gaps. In fact, the healthcare staffing market is expected to hit $43.5 billion by 2025.
More and more healthcare provider organizations are turning to locum, or locum tenens to keep up with the increasing demands.
What is a Locum Tenens?
For example, a locum tenens physician is a physician who works in the place of the regular physician when that physician is absent, or when a hospital or practice is short staffed. These professionals are still governed by their respective regulatory bodies, despite the transient or freelance nature of their positions. This concept started at the University of Utah and has since been adopted all over the country. Health facilities now outsource independent medical practitioners to play essential provider roles.
This article discusses the benefits of locum tenens to healthcare provider organizations.
10 Benefits of Partnering with a Locum Tenens Provider
Better Patient Care
All patients in the country deserve great care and attention- that goes without saying. Working with a locum tenens provider helps to acquire specialized talent quickly and can significantly improve patient care.
Through a locum tenens program, hospitals can also offer a wider range of services to patients regardless of their location. It further ensures optimal patient care through better continuity and a wider variety of medical services offered.
Importantly, the locum tenens speed up the rate of service delivery, reducing patient wait times, thus improving overall patient care experience and quality.
Local Tenens Provide On-Demand Staffing
Whenever there is a shortage of practitioners or a crisis situation, locums can help deliver services. They are available on-demand to help health facilities avert crises.
Mostly, locum tenens providers have the necessary talent pool available who can be outsourced to any facility in need. When the hospitals and provider organizations lack enough personnel, they can shift focus to locum tenens who can hit the ground running with minimal inconvenience or significant time spent onboarding.
Prevents a Downtime in the Hospital
Downtime in a medical facility caused by provider availability issues can have dire effects on care quality and the bottom line. To avoid downtime, hospitals and healthcare provider organizations can turn to locum tenens to assure continuity of services. In this situation, contacting a locum tenens provider to deploy critical staff can reduce the potential for downtime and prevent costly inefficiencies.
Provide Business Flexibility
Locum tenens give healthcare administrators the opportunity to bring in medical staff for shorter periods without the need for contracts. This gives administrators the flexibility to assess and restructure service delivery before engaging in permanent contracts.
As a short-term structure, it allows healthcare organizations a variety of alternatives. Locum tenens can be deployed whenever and wherever there is a need for change.
Helps in Launching New Programs
Hospitals and healthcare provider organizations can leverage locum tenens when launching new programs. Opening new service lines can be tricky and require comprehensive personnel. Locum tenens providers possess the high-performing talent that can provide the technical and professional support required.
Instead of hiring permanent providers from the beginning, administrators can use locum tenens to test the programs. Launching new services lines is often unpredictable and can be costly when using permanent staff. The locums assist in launching the new programs before the organization bears the high cost of permanent provider recruitment.
Provides a Platform for Testing Before Hiring
Pre-contractual negotiations can be challenging, especially where there is no proven track record of experience. Hospitals and healthcare provider organizations make significant investments in contract negotiations with no guarantee of quality. Locum tenens provide administrators with a chance to test quality and cultural fit before hiring.
It is also easier to terminate the employment of locum tenens than contracted employees. The hospital management can “try before buying” to get the right personnel.
Locum tenens act as essential tools in the organization’s overall recruitment strategy. They enable hospital administrators to buy time while looking for the perfect permanent placements.
Provides Gap Coverage
Temporary physicians ensure that hospitals are never understaffed. When a gap appears, locum tenens providers can rapidly deploy staff to support and assure quality and regulatory compliance. When a doctor resigns or absconds duty, locum tenens provide quick coverage.
Enables Permanent Staff to Take Time Off
The demanding nature of work as a healthcare provider often leads to burnout and excess fatigue that can lead to decreased performance. To avoid this problem, it is critical that providers practice self-care and take time off to relax.
But as provider staff take time off work for sabbatical, vacation, family medical leave or continuing education, a hole is left in the schedule—a hole that must be filled quickly and with qualified talent to ensure an optimal patient experience. In this situation, only a short-term solution is needed to fill the gap. Locums are a preferred way to cover for the staff on leave without overburdening their colleagues with picking up too many extra shifts.
Since no permanent solution is required, locums help in the period in-between. A locum can work for a month or two before the permanent provider returns from their time away.
Provides Community Coverage
Today’s larger health systems often provide services to rural areas. In 2019, there are 1,349 critical access hospitals located throughout the United States. These small but very important facilities are located in the most remote corners of the country making permanent staffing of them very challenging. Locum tenens play an integral role in staffing these healthcare organizations.
Helps Generate More Revenue
Locum tenens are available for all medical specialties and sub-specialties. These locum tenens help hospitals and healthcare provider organizations generate more revenue by allowing them to offer a wider range of services. Hiring locum tenens is cheaper than permanent hires since there is no commitment to long term contracts. By partnering with a locum tenens provider, healthcare organizations can add specialty and sub-specialty locums, expanding service offerings and therefore increasing revenue.
The Bottom Line
It is no doubt that locum tenens have numerous benefits to hospitals and healthcare provider organizations. Locum tenens are licensed, screened and skilled to offer health services at a professional capacity.
What is the best approach to beginning or strengthening a locum tenens program? Smart administrators begin by consulting a vendor-neutral locum MSP/VMS first. These agencies offer efficient healthcare workforce logistics to facilities. With a dynamic workforce solution in place, the hospitals and healthcare provider organizations can get the best solutions and the best cost from locum tenens providers.
Do you have any questions or need more information about locum tenens providers or our process for ensuring the best rates? Reach out to us today or contact us by phone at, 833-HWL-INFO (833-495-4636).