Staff Care Releases 2012 Survey of Temporary Physician Staffing Trends

Staff Care 2012 Survey of Temporary Physician Staffing Trends

Survey of Locum Tenens Physician Users Includes Hospital, Medical Groups and Government Health Facility Managers

Physicians have substituted for colleagues who are absent from their practices for many generations. Therefore, the use of locum tenens physicians is a time-honored practice in the medical community. However, it is only in the last several decades that the use of locum tenens doctors has become widespread at hospitals, medical groups and other healthcare facilities. In the 1970s, government grants were allotted to make temporary physicians available in medically under-served rural areas, accelerating the use of locum tenens doctors.

Locum tenens companies began as niche players in the health care staffing industry, filling “physician days” on a limited basis in mostly rural areas. Today, by contrast, locum tenens staffing is a multi-billion dollar industry and temporary physicians are used by healthcare facilities in a wide range of settings and locations nationwide.

Part I of Staff Care’s Survey of Temporary Physician Staffing Trends examines the use of locum tenens physicians in hospitals, medical groups and other settings. It seeks to determine how prevalent the use of locum tenens physicians is and why healthcare facilities use temporary doctors. The survey also examines how healthcare facility administrators evaluate the quality of care provided by locum tenens physicians and whether or not their services are worth the cost.

Download Staff Care's 2012 Survey of Temporary Physician Staffing Trends here.

Locum Tenens Use Prevalent at Healthcare Facilities

Locum tenens physicians remain a commonly used resource for most healthcare facility administrators. For the fifth year in a row, at least 75 percent of healthcare facility administrators indicated they had used locum tenens physicians to supplement their existing staffs sometime in the previous 12 months. While locum tenens physicians may have been an anomaly at many hospitals and medical groups in the past, survey results indicate they are a standard component of most medical staffs today.

About 41 percent of healthcare facilities are looking for locum tenens physicians at any one time. For the eighth consecutive year, at least 41 percent of healthcare administrators indicated they currently are looking for locum tenens physicians to supplement their current staffs.

The majority of healthcare facilities use at least one locum tenens physician per month. Fifty-percent of administrators indicated they typically use one to three locum tenens physicians per month, eight percent said they use four to six, and four percent use seven or more. The remaining 38 percent said that in a typical month they do not use locum tenens physicians, a number that has remained consistent over the last five years.

The foremost use of locum tenens physicians is to fill in while permanent staff is sought. Fifty-seven percent of administrators indicated they use temporary physicians to maintain services while they seek to fill open permanent positions, followed by 46 percent who use locum tenens doctors to fill in for vacationing physicians or those pursuing continuing medical education (CME).

The majority of healthcare facility administrators rate locum tenens physicians as good to excellent. Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed indicated that the general skill level of locum tenens physicians is either good or excellent. Forty-two percent rated their skill level as adequate, while only one percent rated the skill level of locum tenens physicians as unsatisfactory.

Reasons for Using Locum Tenens: Increased Revenue and Continuity of Patient Care

Continued patient care and revenue are the main benefits of locum tenens physicians. Sixty-four percent of administrators indicated that the continual treatment of patients is the main benefit to using locum tenens physicians, followed by 43 percent who said locum tenens physicians prevent revenue loss. The main drawback to using locum tenens physicians cited by 86 percent of administrators is cost.

Seventy-nine percent of administrators believe locum tenens physicians are worth the cost. Though cost is considered one of the drawbacks of using locum tenens physicians by many administrators, over three-quarters said that locum tenens physicians are worth the cost, while only 21 percent said they are not worth the cost.

Locum tenens physicians are generally accepted in the work place. Sixty-three percent or more of those surveyed indicated locum tenens physicians are accepted by patients, colleagues and facility administrators.

Download Staff Care's 2012 Survey of Temporary Physician Staffing Trends here.



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