50. The big 5-0. The Gold anniversary. The Golden Jubilee. Whatever you call it, 50 is something worth celebrating. For the past 49 issues, Locums Digest has delivered unparalleled insight into hot topics and stories of interest from the locum tenens industry. It’s something we’re proud of and something we hope you continue to find valuable. Here’s to another 50 and beyond.
In This Issue:
- Healthcare Staffing Firms See Surge in Mergers & Acquisitions Despite Ongoing Staffing Shortages
- Maximizing Your Staffing Mix: A Guide to Using Locum Tenens in Healthcare
- Increasing Interest and Satisfaction to Help Retain Locum Tenens Providers
- Relieving the Pressure: The Role of Locum Tenens Recruiters in Rural Healthcare
- Barton Associates Recognizes Outstanding Locum Tenens Providers with Fifth Annual “Locum Heroes” Contest
- NALTO/Butler Street Webinar: How to Overcome Objections and Elevate Client Relationships
- Insights on Physician Workforce from Curative & Doximity’s 2023
- Meeting the Growing Need for Care: How APPs Can Fill the Healthcare Workforce Gap
- How to Attract and Retain Healthcare Talent: Insights from Industry Experts
- Healthcare Experts Release Guides to Combat Burnout
- 5 Strategies to Improve Physician Well-Being for Healthcare Organizations
- Socially Speaking: Posts of note from LT.com, Cross Country, Astrya Global, Curative & more.
- Healthcare Industry Shifts Post-Pandemic: Challenges and Changes
- Retraining for Resilience: How Digital Solutions Can Help Overcome the Staffing Shortage
Healthcare Staffing Firms See Surge in Mergers & Acquisitions Despite Ongoing Staffing Shortages
(From Medical Economics & Capstone Partners, 4/21/2023)
Healthcare staffing firms completed 40 mergers and acquisitions (M&A) deals in 2022, which surpassed the previous year and more than doubled 2020’s total. This may seem somewhat counterintuitive thanks to the shortage of healthcare workers in this space, but a report from Capstone Partners’ Healthcare Group, shows that the uptick in M&A appears to be more of a correction in the market than an anomaly.
This M&A increase is likely attributed to the recent stabilization of billing rates and the use of tech-driven staffing tools that have helped optimize recruiting, credentialing, and placement processes to help address the need for healthcare providers.
Capstone’s report titled “Labor Shortages and Optimized Solutions Drive Consolidation Activity” highlights that while demand for doctors and nurses since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has far outpaced its supply, it has forced staffing firms to ramp up their efforts to meet the need and leverage tech-enabled tools to “provide quicker responses and more tailored candidates to better meet the needs of healthcare providers.” After adjusting to market changes following COVID-19, investors helped the sector rebound from pandemic lows in 2021 and then again in 2022.
In 2022, the healthcare staffing sector comprised four deals totaling more than $1.5 billion in value, including the acquisition of Epic Staffing Group by The Pritzker Organization, valued at $675 million.
Some other notable transactions in the space come from Cross Country Healthcare, which completed the acquisitions of Mint Medical Physician Staffing and Lotus Medical Staffing in September 2022, and AMN Healthcare, which acquired Connetics USA last May. Cross Country said they expect the acquisition of the two smaller agencies to help them “expand its locum tenens platform amid a prevalent national shortage of healthcare professionals.”
Capstone also claimed the healthcare staffing sector has kept up its momentum thus far in 2023, with eight deals announced or completed. Despite growth in the industry, the 2022 deals did not resemble the M&A frenzy seen across the broader market, the report says.
La Vida Locum
Maximizing Your Staffing Mix: A Guide to Using Locum Tenens in Healthcare
(From Wilderness Medical Staffing, 4/14/2023)
If left unchecked, burnout can become toxic and sap morale at a healthcare facility. Wilderness Medical Staffing weighed in on how hiring locum tenens can help the healthcare industry as it faces unprecedented levels of burnout directly related to the staffing shortage.
Below are some of the ways healthcare administrators can strategically use locum tenens in their staffing mix to address burnout.
Strategic Use of Locum Tenens Staffing
Locum tenens coverage can also provide additional support during times of high stress. Healthcare providers may want to consider adding staffing in times of historically higher patient volumes.
Call Schedules and Expectations for Locum Providers
Creating a rotation schedule is a valuable strategy to avoid provider burnout. Having one or more locum providers on site can help potentially share the bulk of the call schedules and take that pressure off the permanent staff.
Leaving Full-Time Positions Open to Locum Providers
Healthcare administrators can also consider leaving full-time positions open to staff with locum tenens. In some communities, it can be a challenge to keep full-time providers, and it’s equally difficult if healthcare facilities make up a shortfall with individuals who are unfamiliar with the community and practice. Administrators can intentionally leave a full-time position open and fill that vacancy with rotating, regularly returning providers who get to know your patients and processes.
Increasing Interest and Satisfaction to Help Retain Locum Tenens Providers
(From MPLT Healthcare, 4/27/2023)
It can be difficult to find highly-qualified locum tenens providers, and healthcare facilities need to put in the proper work to attract new providers and retain the ones they already have.
MPLT Healthcare proposes that healthcare facilities enhance their ability to tackle challenges by offering sophisticated communication channels, enabling providers to seek advice and obtain guidance throughout their assignments. Regular check-ins with management can also help gauge their job satisfaction. Offering temp-to-permanent hiring options and Investing in an onboarding program for locum tenens providers are crucial ways to give providers a positive experience at the facility.
By implementing a few of these strategies, healthcare facilities can retain their locum tenens staff and build a strong reputation as an employer for future locum tenens candidates.
Relieving the Pressure: The Role of Locum Tenens Recruiters in Rural Healthcare
(From Wapiti Medical, 5/1/2023)
Locum tenens recruiters play a vital role in addressing the physician shortage in rural areas. Rural communities have less than half of the physicians compared to metropolitan areas, and smaller facilities have a harder time attracting and retaining these providers.
Locum tenens recruiters can locate skilled medical professionals open to temporary assignments in rural areas and help fill temporary gaps caused by attrition or other unforeseen circumstances. Having locums on board creates a deeper bench, which relieves pressure on existing staff, allowing physicians to take a break and reduce their on-call hours.
Locum tenens can alleviate the stress put on hospital leadership as well. Healthcare recruiting is a full-time job, and offloading some of this responsibility to locum recruiters helps give rural facilities more time to focus on patient care.
Barton Associates Recognizes Outstanding Locum Tenens Providers with Fifth Annual “Locum Heroes” Contest
(From PRNewswire, 5/1/2023)
Barton Associates is now accepting nominations for its fifth annual “Locum Heroes” contest. This contest aims to acknowledge locum tenens providers who have made a significant difference in patient care on and off assignment.
Nominations for this contest will be accepted now through June 2 and can be submitted on Barton Associates’ Locum Heroes nomination page. Nominees for the contest must have worked at least one locum tenens assignment through any locum tenens staffing agency within the year of the event.
After receiving all the nominations, a panel of healthcare providers from various specialties and backgrounds will select one deserving provider as Barton Associates’ Locum Hero. The winners receive a $2,500 donation to a charity of their choice and a $2,500 prize.
NALTO/Butler Street Webinar: How to Overcome Objections and Elevate Client Relationships
NALTO/Butler Street is hosting a client-focused webinar titled, “How To Handle Those (Pesky) Objections” on May 16 at noon (Mountain Time). During this webinar, the host will explore these potential client objections and why they may be just what you need.
You can sign up for the webinar today and Join NALTO/Butler Street to discuss why you shouldn’t fear objections, ways to help build trust, and proven methods to overcome objections with your clients.
Insights on Physician Workforce from Curative & Doximity’s 2023
Curative is hosting a webinar on the latest trends in physician compensation and hiring strategies on May 9 at 2 p.m. ET. During the webinar, panelists will explore key topics such as specialties experiencing the largest increase in annual compensation, why one-third of physicians are considering side gigs, and the growing trend of physicians accepting lower compensation for a better work-life balance.
The webinar will discuss key findings from Curative’s 2023 Compensation Report. Curative partnered with Doximity to survey 190,000 doctors and providers to compile these insights into its annual report.
Making the Rounds
Meeting the Growing Need for Care: How APPs Can Fill the Healthcare Workforce Gap
(From LocumTenens.com, 5/1/2023)
Advanced Practice Professionals (APPs) are becoming increasingly important in healthcare as the APP clinician pool is set to outpace that of physicians, and projections show they will make up 67.3% of practitioners added to the workforce between now and 2030. By learning to utilize APPs effectively, healthcare organizations can be well-positioned to deliver high-quality care in the near future.
Certified nurse midwives and certified nurse anesthetists are also in high demand in the healthcare industry. Certified nurse midwives play a crucial role in combating maternal deserts and providing safe care to women, while certified nurse anesthetists provide anesthesia in every practice setting and are the sole anesthesia providers in many rural hospitals.
Acute care nurse practitioners and physician assistants are also making significant impacts in hospitals nationwide, leading nightshift operations and acting as the first line of defense when patients are critically ill. Understanding these trends within specialties can help hospital and medical practice administrators make better decisions, resulting in greater access to care for patients and communities.
How to Attract and Retain Healthcare Talent: Insights from Industry Experts
(From Becker’s Hospital Review, 4/17/2023)
The United States will experience a shortage of 3.2 million healthcare workers by 2026 and a shortage of 139,000 physicians by 2033, according to a 2022 U.S. Surgeon General report.
During Becker’s Hospital Review‘s 13th Annual Meeting, Vista Staffing Solutions hosted a roundtable exploring the current healthcare workforce landscape and discussed retention and other ways to address burnout.
Here are five of the key takeaways from the event:
- Macrotrends affecting hospital care are declining reimbursement, value-based care, telehealth/walk-in clinics, and government regulations/legal challenges.
- To boost employee engagement, hospitals need the right product, target, marketing, and future.Candidates care about compensation, workload, and organizational support.
- Authentic marketing is crucial for attracting talent. Handwritten, personalized outreach can be more effective than mass emails or social media.
- Hospitals must offer growth opportunities and involve clinical staff in decision-making for better engagement.
- Building talent pipelines through partnerships with universities, colleges, and staffing firms is vital for long-term success.
Healthcare Experts Release Guides to Combat Burnout
(From Medical Economics, 4/27/2023)
Several prominent healthcare institutions are offering new resources to alleviate burnout among doctors, staff, and administrators.
The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the Mayo Clinic, the National Academy of Medicine, and the American Medical Association recently published guides and launched separate initiatives to combat burnout in healthcare.
Burnout in Primary Care
AHRQ has released a free online guide called “Burnout in Primary Care,” which provides primary care leaders with tools and strategies to assess and address staff burnout within their organizations. The guide also includes validated assessment instruments and proven strategies to help identify and address the root causes of staff burnout.
A Seven-Step Process
A new guide published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings offers a seven-step process to integrate measures to alleviate burnout. The guide suggests that unit-specific improvement efforts require a system-level approach and the guide says that “top-of-the-organization elements” are essential for success, though pain points and improvements differ among specialties like radiation, surgery, and primary care.
American Medical Association
The American Medical Association (AMA) has recommended team-based care as a means to eliminate burnout in physicians’ practices. Physicians and health systems can create a “change” team to design a team-based care workflow and establish teams of various decision-makers and staff to explore the many “ways to do things better.”
The National Academy of Medicine’s (NAM) Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience is seeking Change Maker Accelerators to implement priority areas from the National Plan for Health Workforce Well-Being. NAM plans to hold a national awareness day this year to raise awareness and help to address healthcare worker burnout.
5 Strategies to Improve Physician Well-Being for Healthcare Organizations
(From CompHealth, 4/3/2023)
Physician happiness remains low post-pandemic, according to the annual Medscape Physician Lifestyle and Happiness Report and the 2023 National Physician Burnout and Depression Report.
59% of physicians reported feeling happy or somewhat happy outside of work, and 48% reported they were happy or very happy at work. The levels of physician burnout were also high, with 53% of respondents saying they were burned out and 23% saying they were depressed.
There are many contributing factors to burnout. To improve physician well-being, healthcare organizations can implement the following five strategies:
- Reduce administrative burden: Physicians face a substantial workload and spend significant time completing electronic health record (EHR) documentation. Healthcare organizations can alleviate administrative tasks to allow physicians to spend more time with patients.
- Create a better work-life balance: Physicians need time for restoration and stress relief, and most surveyed physicians would take less pay for a better work-life balance. Healthcare organizations can create conditions for better work-life balance.
- Focus on respect and recognition: Physicians want to feel appreciated for their work. Healthcare organizations can provide formal recognition programs and informal expressions of appreciation to increase morale and help physicians feel more appreciated.
- Enhance workplace culture: Interpersonal relationships contribute significantly to physician happiness. Healthcare organizations can foster meaningful friendships and mentorships to enhance workplace culture and increase physician happiness.
- Facilitate greater freedom and autonomy: Physicians want greater control over their work. Healthcare organizations can grant physicians greater freedom and autonomy to help them feel more engaged and self-motivated.
Healthcare Industry Shifts Post-Pandemic: Challenges and Changes
(From Newsweek, 4/26/2023)
In the post-pandemic months, the healthcare industry – both the experience of receiving healthcare and the business of healthcare itself – is undergoing significant changes.
The industry is experiencing challenges like physician burnout and staffing shortages, but that’s been present long before the pandemic. Additionally, the impending retirement of baby boomers will have a significant impact. This is particularly true in rural markets, where the loss of one physician can create a ‘healthcare desert’ that affects multiple communities.
The healthcare staffing industry has some notable developments based on company placement data. Primary care placements have been stable, but there has been a 24% increase in 2022, with OB/GYNs seeing the most growth. Demand for advanced practice providers, including nurse practitioners and certified registered nurse anesthetists, is also increasing, and mental health providers are also in high demand.
Physician recruitment is becoming increasingly challenging, particularly in rural areas where many hospitals risk closure due to staffing problems, rising costs, and lower reimbursements. Organizations must consider a more nuanced approach to succeed in this tight market and prioritize culture as a strong draw for candidates.
Retraining for Resilience: How Digital Solutions Can Help Overcome the Staffing Shortage
(From Managed Healthcare Executive, 4/18/2023)
Digital tools can help reduce staffing shortages, according to David Francis of Binder Dijker Otte (BDO)’s healthcare management advisory services. Francis suggests in his report things like patient self-scheduling, virtual nursing, remote learning, and retraining for more challenging roles can help overcome staffing issues.
The US faces a critical shortage of healthcare workers, with estimates suggesting a shortfall of nearly 79,000 registered nurses and over 57,000 physicians by 2025. While only 34% of healthcare CFOs are pursuing digital solutions to help solve these problems, healthcare leaders may be more willing to embrace technology due to the pandemic, inflation, and other international factors.
One way of relieving the burden on healthcare staff is to shift some of the work onto patients. BDO’s data suggests patients prefer self-scheduling rather than calling for an appointment, which leads to appointments being scheduled two days sooner.
Another idea to align the duties of healthcare providers is through virtual nursing, where nurses work from a centralized location, providing care that does not require hands-on work. Remote nursing can handle tasks such as medication reconciliation, reviewing medical records, and monitoring lab tests, with patients being remotely nursed at home to some extent.
Healthcare providers need to train individuals more efficiently for new or expanded roles. For example, remote learning, facilitated by virtual reality (VR) simulations, can be useful for various applications, such as practicing patient interactions or developing leadership skills.
Digital tools can streamline processes, reduce expenses, improve patient throughput, and drive revenue so that healthcare organizations can achieve a holistic impact on their bottom line.