By Bonnie Owens Mar 01, 2013
Spring break is just around the corner, and just a few months after that, school will be out for the summer.
While this is good news for students, it can be quite stressful for physicians who want to take time out of their busy schedules to vacation with their families, and even more stressful for the healthcare facilities that will need to cover those absences.
An increasing number of healthcare facilities are turning to locum tenens providers to fill those gaps. According to Staff Care’s 2012 Survey of Temporary Physician Staffing Trends, 75 percent of healthcare facilities have used locum tenens physicians in the past year, and of those, 46 percent have used locums providers to fill in for vacations.
Here are the top three reasons locum tenens physicians can be an effective solution for covering vacation absences.
Your Doctors Need a Break.
In the Physician’s Foundation Survey of American Physicians: Practice Patterns and Perspectives, 24.9 percent of respondents cited long hours and lack of personal time as the least satisfying aspect of medical practice. Additionally, 52.8 percent said that they were at full capacity in their practice, and 22.6 percent said they were overextended and overworked. These physicians are facing burn out. If your physicians are burned out, your turnover rate will reflect it. According to the Healthcare Governance Academy’s Trustee Guidebook, to recruit a family practice physician, a hospital can expect to spend $280,000 on items such as income guarantee or salary; benefits/perks; recruiters; identification of candidates; interviews; relocation; and practice marketing. When you weigh the cost of a locum tenens provider versus the cost and time of replacing a full-time physician, the locums option becomes more attractive.
You Don't Want to Lose Revenue.
Many facilities cite cost as a deterrent to using locum tenens. However, when you examine the cost of NOT having a doctor on staff, the perspective changes. For example, family practice doctors generate an average of $138,569 a month in revenue, or $34,643 per week, according to Staff Care's white paper, "The Growing Use of Locum Tenens Providers as a Supplement To Permanent Medical Staff." The same source states that general surgeons produce even more revenue; a month without a general surgeon results in an average loss of $176,041, or $44,010 per week. You could very well stand to lose more revenue from an absent physician than you would spend on a locum tenens provider.
You Want to Take Care of Your Patients
Revenue issues aside, your ultimate mission is to provide quality care for your patients. Your patients’ healthcare needs don’t go on vacation with their physicians. According to Staff Care’s survey, 64 percent of healthcare facilities cited the ability to provide continuity of care to its patients as a top reason for using locum tenens.
If you are concerned about any of the topics mentioned above and would like to learn how Staff Care can help you plan for vacation coverage, please contact us today!
Bonnie Owens is Staff Care's Senior Vice President of Client Sales.