Calculating Locum Costs: Are You Losing Money by Saving Money?

Calculating Locum Costs: Are You Losing Money by Saving Money?

Bonnie Britton is President at Locum Leaders, Inc., like Staff Care, a company of AMN Healthcare.

Many healthcare facilities have found that locum tenens physicians and advanced practitioners provide a good short-term solution for absent doctors and clinical staff, whether they are on vacation or have left the facility and coverage is needed until a new physician is found.

Although most would agree that locum tenens is a good way to cover physician absences, some bristle when they learn the cost.

However, if the price tag is putting you off of locum tenens providers, here’s something to consider: a physician vacancy will probably cost you more than a locum tenens replacement.

Calculating Locum Costs: How Locum Workers Maintain Revenue as Well as Continuity

It all comes down to the revenue that each physician on your staff creates for your hospital. According to Merritt Hawkins’ 2013 Physician Inpatient/Outpatient Revenue Survey, one family physician will generate more than $5,000 worth of revenue each day for his or her hospital. For certain specialties, that figure can go as high as $10,000 plus.

According to the survey data, here is a breakdown of daily revenue generated by some popular specialties:

Family Practitioner: $5,134 per day

General Surgery: $7,752 per day

Internal Medicine: $7,679 per day

Orthopedic Surgery: $11,181 per day

Based on this data, if your orthopedic surgeon goes on vacation for a week, that’s more than $78,000 in lost revenue for your facility. Any way you slice it, hiring a locum tenens orthopedic surgeon would be less costly.

Although our healthcare system is transitioning to a payment system based on quality outcomes and other value metrics, a March 2013 Catalyst for Payment Reform (CPR) study indicates that the vast majority of payments (89.1 percent) are still based on the traditional fee-for-service model. So, for now, volume of services still drives payment, and that volume continues to be driven by physicians.

If you’re saying “no” to locum tenens clinicians based solely on cost, please call us at (800) 685-2272 or via this form. One of our team members can provide a full cost/benefit analysis to help you decide if locum tenens providers make sense for your facility.

Download a full, complimentary copy of the Merritt Hawkins Physician Inpatient/Outpatient Revenue Survey (updated 2016 edition) here. And if you're interested in discovering more about how locum tenens cost-savings can help your organization, please contact us here, or submit a locums staffing request here.

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