Although the use of locum tenens has skyrocketed in recent years, as more and more employers, administrators, and even private practice physicians get a clearer idea of the usefulness of locums in maintaining care as well as revenue during times of fluctuation.
Among those organizations that haven't yet fully embraced the locum tenens options, one of the biggest reasons is the sense of confusion and lack of clarity that often accompany the very idea of locum tenens billing. Another reason is the misperception that locum tenens workers are too expensive to be worthwhile.
"By far, the most common objection to engaging locum tenens physicians is the cost," reports the National Association of Locum Tenens Organizations® (NALTO®). "What many healthcare executives don’t realize, however, is that in most instances locum tenens physicians more than pay for themselves in terms of professional service revenue (physician billing) and inpatient and outpatient revenue generated for their affiliate hospital."
Another way to put it: When locum tenens professionals aren't used, there's money being left on the table. When you look at the numbers of how much revenue can be lost by failing to employ locum tenens physicians, the specific amount of lost revenue can be surprising. (Information below from NALTO.)
||Approx. cost for locum tenens physician per day
||Approx. professional fee collections per day
Don't Let Locum Tenens Billing Confusion Hurt Your Bottom Line
Even understanding the financial benefits of locum tenens, the ins and outs of locum tenens billing can be complex. Replacements for a specific physician can be required to bill differently than gap coverage providers. Medicare and Medicaid regulations and allowances vary from state to state, and many payers and insurers have different policies and approaches to locum reimbursements. In addition, billing guidelines for locum tenens doctors can be different from nurse practitioners.
These complications can seem formidable to busy administrators. Removing these levels of complexity is a key benefit of partnering with a full-service locum tenens staffing agency like Staff Care. When you work with Staff Care, we'll take on the burden of locum tenens billing — including dealing with insurance companies and Medicare regulations. It's the simplest way to ensure you maintain continuity of care and revenues during periods of staffing fluctuations.
"A lot of hospitals miss out on revenue," Randy Sparks, Vice President of Business Development at AMN Healthcare, told Becker's Hospital Review. "They engage with locum tenens services and utilize the [Medicare] modifier, but then somebody in compliance or billing months down the road says you missed out on X months of billing for professional fees because you didn't transition the provider from locum tenens to a contracted provider."
"If hospitals define their locum tenens needs and the amount of coverage that is needed, they are putting themselves in a better position in terms of maximizing locum tenens' revenue," Bob Herman writes in the Becker's article. "However, hospitals can go one step further by combining their locum tenens staffing and billing into one smooth process. This can potentially be achieved by outsourcing both locum tenens staffing and billing to one staffing firm that is familiar with both tasks" — firms like Staff Care.
"Locum tenens staffing firms that also manage all aspects of billing could retrieve any revenue that normally would have been lost, and it could also give a semblance of consistency among the hospital's medical staff," Herman adds.
“I had no idea we were losing out on thousands of dollars in professional fees until I received a call from the locum tenens billing team at AMN," a previous Staff Care client stated in a case study. "Given how confusing and time-consuming billing is, it gives me great peace of mind to know that they are taking care of everything for us. Now we can handle all our staffing needs and recover costs in one phone call.”
For more information about Staff Care's locum tenens billing services, visit our Strategic Services page. You can also contact us directly with any further questions, or submit a Staffing Request form to get started on your staffing solution today.