Locum Tenens Physicians: What Trustees Should Know

Locum Tenens Physicians: What Trustees Should Know

Hospital trustees perform a vital task by ensuring the quality and viability of hospital care both in Texas and nationwide. Physicians are a big part of any quality and patient safety initiative. Recently, however, healthcare reform and a looming shortage of physicians haven’t made that aspect of our jobs any easier.

One option to maintain staffing that is not always considered is the use of locum tenens (temporary) physicians. If you are unfamiliar with locum tenens, here's what you need to know.

Who Uses Locum Tenens?

The use of locum tenens is a common and frequent practice. According to Staff Care’s 2013 Survey of Temporary Physician Staffing Trends, 74 percent of medical facilities used locum tenens physicians to supplement existing staff in 2012. The most common reason given for using locums providers was to fill in for departed staff members until a new doctor could be hired. The second most common response was to cover vacations and continuing medical education.

Why Use Locum Tenens Physicians?

Locum tenens physicians can add great value to your hospital’s strategic staffing plan. In addition to reducing physician burnout, which in turn will help increase physician retention, other reasons to consider locums providers include:

Revenue generation: Physicians are the primary revenue drivers in your hospital, so each day you’re short a doctor means a loss of billed services.

According to data from a recent survey by Merritt Hawkins, the average primary care physician generates more than $5,000 in revenue per day. You can expect to pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $850 per day for a locum tenens doctor.  The math isn't difficult: no physician will cost you more than a locums physician.

Ease: Locum tenens staffing companies can save you much of the time and hassle of physician staffing by handling all the logistics, including travel, licensing, credentialing and malpractice.

Quality: Staffing companies rigorously screen potential doctors. It’s in their best interest to assure they send only the highest quality physicians to their clients.

Texas Healthcare Trustees has partnered with Staff Care to produce the Trustee Guidebook, which provides more detail on locum tenens physicians and other staffing issues facing hospitals. To receive a complimentary copy of the book, please email Bonnie Britton at bonnie.britton@staffcare.com.

Stacy Cantu, CAE is President and CEO of Texas Healthcare Trustees.

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