The use of locum tenens staffing services by America's healthcare facilities continues to increase, nearly to the point of ubiquity: According to Staff Care's newly released 2017 Survey of Temporary Physician Staffing Trends, 94% of healthcare facility managers reported staffing locum physicians in 2016.
That's up from 91% in 2014, and 74% in 2012, representing close to 19 out of every 20 surveyed healthcare employers.
“This is the highest number of healthcare facilities using locum tenens providers that Staff Care has recorded in any of its surveys,” as the survey authors explain.
“Virtually every hospital in the United States now uses locum tenens doctors,” Staff Care President Sean Ebner commented in a news release about the survey. “They are emerging as a key part of the medical workforce in an era of physician shortages and evolving delivery models.”
Reasons for — and Benefits of — Locum Tenens Staffing
These locum survey results are the latest evidence of a decades-long trend, in which locum tenens physiciand and clinicians are increasingly embraced by healthcare employers as a means to help fill staffing shortfalls, enhance quality and consistency of care, and improve cost effectiveness, amid a variety of other reasons.
And these reasons are consistent with past years, with some minor shifts. Respondents to the locum tenens survey said they typically chose to utilize locum tenens physicians for the following reasons:
- To fill a position while searching for a permanent physician: 74.6% (up from 68.1% in 2014)
- To fill in for staff members who have left the team: 73.6% (up from 67.2% in 2014)
- To cover for staff vacations and/or continuing medical education: 38.6% (down from 48.7% in 2014)
- To meet rising patient demand: 13.7% (up from 12.9% in 2014)
- To help maintain care during peak usage times: 10.7% (down from 11.6% in 2014)
- To maintain staff flexibility, or upsize/downsize staff: 5.1% (down from 9.1% in 2014)
- To maintain care during physician employment transitions: 3.6% (down from 3.9% in 2014)
- To provide telemedicine services: 3.0% (down from 3.9% in 2014)
- To maintain services during EMR training: 2% (down from 3% in 2014)
- As part of efforts to reduce readmissions and/or medical errors: 1% (down from 1.3% in 2014)
- To help ensure quality-based reimbursement: .5% (down from 1.7% in 2014)
“In the past, hospitals, medical groups and other facilities rarely had to worry about physician turnover. Now they do,” the survey authors note.
“Gaps in the medical staff, caused either by the shortage of physicians or by physician turnover, accelerate the need for temporary, locum tenens physicians to provide access to care and maintain revenue, a fact underscored by Staff Care’s 2017 survey.”
When asked to describe the benefits of using locum tenens staffing services, the respondents said:
- To allow for the continual treatment of patients (69% of respondents)
- For access to a pool of "immediately available" physicians and clinicians (39% of respondents)
- To prevent loss or revenue (37% of respondents)
- To help prevent burnout of existing staff members (36% of respondents)
- To help reduce medical errors and/or expenses related to readmissions (4% of respondents)
- To ensures quality-based reimbursement (3% of respondents)
- For cost effectiveness (2% of respondents)
The full survey goes into much greater detail regarding the use of locum tenens staffing services, including the relative difficulty of finding qualified locums workers, the prevalence of locum tenens staffing to fulfill demand for telemedicine services, the effects of the Affordable Care Act on staffing plans, and much more. We invite you to access the full survey here, or by clicking the button below.
View the Survey Here
If you'd like to discuss your locum tenens staffing needs or strategies with a specialist, please contact us here. You can also submit a staffing request directly via this form.
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