Locums Digest #63 | AMA Warns of Dire Future; Strategies to Attract Locums; Building a Locums Bullpen; AMN, Cross Country Revenue Dries Up; SBG Acquired & More

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AMA President Warns of Dire Healthcare Future Amidst Physician Shortage and Workplace Dangers

Oct. 26, 2023

Staffing shortages, heightened dangers in workplaces, aging physicians, and the increasing politicization of healthcare are some of the critical warning signs of  America’s burnt-out healthcare workforce. The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the healthcare system in a potentially perilous direction, says Jesse Ehrenfeld, president of the American Medical Association. 

Ehrenfeld says the physician shortage has reached an urgent crisis in the US, impacting every region nationwide. At a recent National Press Club event, the AMA president highlighted the dire consequences of the physician shortage and how insufficient medical care could create nationwide emergencies for healthcare systems. 

Since the pandemic, hospitals and health systems have faced challenges in attracting and retaining staff, with increased labor actions by healthcare workers demanding better pay and safer conditions. The shortage led to difficulties for patients in securing timely appointments. Our current situation is exacerbated by an aging population and a decreasing number of healthcare providers, with nearly half of U.S. physicians older than 55. 

Recent survey data from Kaufman Hall indicated two-thirds of healthcare organizations operated below total capacity in the past year because of staffing shortages. Sixty-three percent reported struggles in meeting patient care demands, and there is a growing trend of patient concerns about access to healthcare.

The healthcare workforce crisis is a result of several factors, including:

  • Demographic shifts
  • Political changes and 
  • Pandemic-induced mental health issues

Healthcare workers are experiencing increased harassment, with more than 13% reporting harassment last year, compared to 6% in 2018, according to the CDC. Burnout among doctors reached an all-time high during the pandemic, driven by hostility towards health workers, industry consolidation, Medicare payment issues, and legislative actions impacting healthcare practices.

Ehrenfeld suggests the healthcare system needs substantial changes to address these challenges, including:

  • Reducing administrative burdens
  • Allowing more foreign doctors to practice in the US
  • Facilitating mental healthcare for doctors without risking their careers. 

Ehrenfeld warns that without these changes, doctors might be forced to reduce practice hours, rely on outdated technology, cut their support staff, or limit the number of Medicare patients they treat. In the end, he says, the patients are the ones who suffer if these changes are not addressed. Get more detailed insights from the full Axios article

La Vida Locum

Wilderness Medical: Assessing Your Community Needs in Order to Attract Ideal Healthcare Staff

Oct. 30, 2023

Finding the right providers for your community and facility is a strategic endeavor in healthcare staffing. The strategy requires a careful assessment, evaluation, and clear understanding of your unique needs and goals. 

Wilderness Medical Staffing says that you should start with a comprehensive assessment of your facility and community to attract the perfect providers to your healthcare facility. The assessment includes:

  • Determining the size of your community and patient population
  • Calculating the number of providers needed
  • Understanding your healthcare environment
  • Assessing your staffing structure
  • Highlighting community amenities
  • Considering housing options
  • Evaluating accessibility, and
  • Determining your staffing and provider budget

Once you have a clearer picture of your community’s needs, you can define your provider’s requirements, which involve the following: 

  • Specifying the skills and expertise required
  • Deciding on-call requirements
  • Considering relationship building with providers
  • Promoting integration into the community
  • Assessing certifications, and
  • Identifying any unique needs specific to your clinic.

Partnering with a staffing agency can help match the perfect providers for each facility. Read more from Wilderness Medical Staffing about attracting the right providers to your community.

CompHealth’s Guide to Streamlining Staffing Efficiency with a Locums Bullpen

Nov. 1, 2023

A “locums bullpen” is a group of trusted locum tenens providers that healthcare organizations can rely on for extra help when needed, particularly in cases of short-notice coverage requirements. The bullpen approach helps the organization streamline the process and enhances facility efficiency.

The size and specialty mix of a bullpen depends on the specific needs of a healthcare facility, with some specialties requiring more providers than others. A bullpen offers various advantages, including pre-screened and credentialed providers, reducing administrative tasks associated with hiring new locums. It also facilitates the management of float pools by using familiar providers.

CompHealth offered the following steps to build your bullpen: 

  1. Select the right providers with input from all parties
  2. Treat your providers well
  3. Be mindful of scheduling
  4. Work with your locum agency partners 

Working closely with locum agency partners can further enhance the effectiveness of a bullpen. Overall, having a locums bullpen benefits healthcare organizations and providers by simplifying the process, reducing paperwork, and improving patient care.

For more details and tips to build your perfect locums bullpen, see the full article from CompHealth.

Locum Leaders

Q3 Revenue Plummets for AMN and Cross Country

Nov. 9, 2023

Over the past two weeks, two of the largest healthcare staffing firms, AMN Healthcare and Cross Country Healthcare, announced significant drops in third-quarter revenue. 

On Nov. 3, AMN Healthcare Services Inc. disclosed its third-quarter financials, unveiling a 25% year-over-year revenue dip to $853.5 million. The firm felt the decline, especially in the nurse and allied solutions segment, where even the better-performing travel nurse and allied revenues saw significant drops of 34% and 12%, respectively. 

AMN’s President and CEO, Cary Grace, recognized the team’s resilience and strategic advancements, alongside the notable acquisition of MSDR to enhance their locum tenens market presence. Despite these challenges, AMN anticipates stabilizing the nurse and allied market by the fourth quarter. However, projections suggest a decline of 33% to 35% in nurse and allied revenue. 

In parallel, Cross Country Healthcare Inc. released its report on Nov. 9, 2023, showing a 30.5% drop in third-quarter revenue, amounting to $442.3 million, attributed mainly to a decline in the nurse and allied segment.

John Martins, president and CEO, highlighted growth in other areas, such as physician staffing and education. Despite a reduction in the average number of field contract personnel, Cross Country’s physician staffing business saw a remarkable 91.8% increase in third-quarter revenue. Strategic acquisitions, including Mint Medical Physician Staffing LP, Lotus Medical Staffing LLC, and Hireup Leadership Inc., helped bolster this growth. 

Both AMN Healthcare Services Inc. and Cross Country Healthcare Inc.’s reports indicate significant shifts in the healthcare staffing industry, varying impacts on different segments, and strategic moves to navigate these changes. 

For comprehensive insights into AMN’s announcement, view this full release. For further analysis of the Cross Country report, see this release from SIA.

MPLT Healthcare Named a Top Private Company

Nov. 7, 2023

MPLT Healthcare received designation as one of the Top Private Companies of 2023 by the South Florida Business Journal. This recognition places MPLT Healthcare at #72 on the list of Top Private Companies in South Florida, based on their annual revenue growth. CEO of MPLT Healthcare, Liz Hale, expressed pride in the company’s South Florida roots and their commitment to “selfless service, top-notch results, and culture of excellence” that permeates the organization.

MPLT Healthcare brings years of experience in healthcare and physician staffing to meet the evolving demands of today’s healthcare landscape. They specialize in placing highly qualified physicians and advanced practice clinicians in locum, locum-to-perm, and direct-hire positions. 

The South Florida Business Journal’s complete list of the Top 100 Private Companies in South Florida, ranked by their 2022 revenue, can be accessed on their website. 

Read more about MPLT Healthcare on the blog post from their website. 

SIA: Epic Staffing Group Acquires Chicago Telerad and Locums Agency SBG Healthcare

Nov. 8, 2023

Epic Staffing Group recently acquired SBG Healthcare, a prominent provider of locum tenens staffing, and Chicago Telerad, a diagnostic imaging and teleradiology services for hospitals. 

The deal to acquire SBG Healthcare, finalized on Oct. 30, involved the retention of SBG Healthcare’s co-founder and president, Drew Seder, who will continue to lead the company. Epic Staffing Group acquired Chicago Telerad’s Faisal Sami, M.D., and will remain president following the Sept.15 transaction. These acquisitions contribute to Epic Staffing Group’s position as the 22nd-largest healthcare staffing firm in the US.

The Pritzker Organization LLC acquired Epic Staffing Group in 2022. Larry Tarschis, managing director of The Pritzker Organization, expressed enthusiasm for these acquisitions, highlighting the potential for significant growth and the provision of high-quality services to clients. Epic Staffing Group, headquartered in El Segundo, California, continues to advance its offerings in the healthcare staffing sector.

The terms of these transactions have not been disclosed. Read the full article from Staffing Industry Analysts for more info on the acquisitions

Hire Power

Podcast: NALTO Members Discuss Locum Tenens Legislation and Lobbying in D.C.

Nov. 13, 2023

In the recent episode of “The Art of Medicine with Dr. Andrew Wilner,” Tanika Williams and Olivia Reed from Jackson + Coker, a locum tenens staffing agency, shared valuable insights on the world of locum tenens and the work they do with The National Association of Locum Tenens Organizations (NALTO). 

Williams serves on the NALTO legislative and conference committee and discussed her recent advocacy efforts in Washington, D.C., focusing on the Healthcare Provider Shortage Minimization Act. 

During this 25-minute discussion, Williams and Reed delved into the significance of NALTO membership for staffing agencies, highlighting NALTO’s role in the healthcare industry.

For more on this episode’s fact-filled and engaging exploration of NALTO and locum tenens, watch the link on YouTube or subscribe on Spotify or Apple Podcasts. 

NALTO/Butler Street Webinar to Cover Role Each Person Plays in Integrating New Talent

Nov. 10, 2023

Think onboarding is just the job of HR or Management?  NALTO has partnered with Butler Street, a management consultant firm focusing on sales training and leadership development, to explore how everyone plays a crucial role in successfully onboarding and integrating new talent – whether in your organization or with your placed candidates.  

The NALTO® and Butler Street-led webinar titled “Thankful Onboarding: Integrating New Talent With Gratitude” will be held at 2 p.m. ET on Nov. 15. During the presentation, Erika Bantz, a senior consultant with Butler Street, will discuss techniques to adopt to make new hires feel like an integral part of the team.

Other topics include: 

  • First impressions: Making new hires feel valued
  • Techniques for successful and thankful onboarding
  • Butler Street’s approach to fostering loyalty and commitment

Register today at this link.

Making the Rounds

Advancing Emergency Room Services Through Psychiatric Tele-Triage

Nov. 3, 2023

In the evolving healthcare landscape, the question arises: how much involvement is required from triage nurses and psychiatric professionals to ensure patients receive the right level of care? The balance depends on factors like the availability of psychiatric care providers, billing considerations, and the severity of cases.

Tele-triage is a practice of physicians triaging cases remotely, which could offer some potential advantages. LocumTenens.com examined a few of the benefits of Tele-triage below: 

  1. Tele-triage reduces travel costs for psychiatric physicians, eliminating the need for physical presence in emergency rooms, which not only saves on expenses but redirects funds to critical healthcare areas. 
  2. Tele-triage is well-suited for diagnosing and managing lower acuity psychiatric cases, leading to faster treatment, improved patient satisfaction, and better clinical outcomes.

Hospitals face challenges like overcrowded emergency rooms, shrinking budgets, and rising clinician pay. Tele-triage can be a cost-effective strategy to manage patient flow efficiently and allocate resources strategically, potentially mitigating these issues. Tele-triage also helps hospitals prevent missed revenue opportunities because each boarded psychiatric patient can prevent the treatment of 2.2 additional patients, resulting in significant financial losses for healthcare facilities.

The integration of psychiatric tele-triage has the potential to be a powerful tool for healthcare organizations in addressing emergency room crises, which isn’t just about helping providers manage patients more effectively; it’s about reshaping the future of emergency care in a way that benefits everyone involved. Examine more in-depth insights about tele-triage in the article from LocumTenens.com.

SIA: Rising Costs and High Turnover Rates Challenge Medical Practices, Report Shows

Nov. 8, 2023

A recent report from Jackson Physician Search and the Medical Group Management Association revealed that physicians who completed residency or fellowship in the past six years spent on average less than two years in their first jobs, in contrast to practicing physicians of all ages who typically spent an average of six years in their initial positions. The primary factors cited by physicians for leaving their first jobs were related to practice ownership and governance models — 35% of the surveyed identified this as a critical issue, followed closely by compensation and geographic preference.

The job trend poses financial challenges for medical groups because new physicians often require one to two years to reach full productivity, according to Tony Stajduhar, president of Jackson Physician Search. Stajduhar emphasized the potential economic impact of this new data. He said that medical groups face financial losses when physicians depart prematurely.

The report also sheds light on the following factors new physicians prioritize when seeking their first job post-residency and fellowship. 

  • Higher compensation topped the list at 50%
  • Geographic preference followed by votes from 37% of physicians 
  • Proximity to family was identified as a priority by 28% of physicians
  • Additionally, career track and advancement and the ability to work part-time or flexible hours were cited by 24% and 22% of physicians, respectively.

Halee Fischer-Wright, CEO of MGMA, said medical practices now face these challenges amid rising expenses and increased compensation for staff at all levels. With the costs associated with replacing a physician in today’s competitive clinician talent market being exceptionally high, understanding the factors influencing physician retention is extremely important.

Read the article from Staffing Industry Analysts for more on the survey and its impact on the healthcare staffing landscape.

Second Opinion

Walmart Health’s New Partnerships Aim to Improve Patient Experience, Accessibility

Nov. 3, 2023

Walmart Health recently announced two partnerships to enhance patient experience and improve healthcare accessibility. 

The first collaboration is with Orlando Health, a private, not-for-profit network of community and specialty hospitals that focuses on enhancing care coordination and patient engagement. The partnership aims to streamline transitions of care between Walmart Health and Orlando Health, creating a patient experience to improve clinical outcomes while addressing a key challenge in retail health, where convenient care access often lacks a connection to a patient’s primary care provider. 

The second partnership involves Ambetter from Sunshine Health, a health insurance provider in the Florida health insurance marketplace. 

Walmart Health is partnering with Ambetter to expand access to affordable healthcare in Florida by providing care conveniently located adjacent to Walmart Supercenters, aligning with both organizations’ focus on serving local communities.

With 23 locations throughout Florida, Walmart Health Clinics offers many services, including primary care, labs, x-rays, behavioral health, dental, and more. These initiatives align with the healthcare industry’s overall move toward value-based care and coordinated approaches to patient care management. 

For more details on these partnerships and their impact on healthcare accessibility, please read the full article from Patient Engagement Hit.

AMA Advocates for Congressional Action on Staffing Crisis

Nov. 6, 2023

The physician shortage crisis is exacerbated by administrative burdens, healthcare consolidation, and declining Medicare payment rates, with a 26% drop since 2001 when adjusted for inflation. Physicians are experiencing burnout, early retirement, and reduced work hours as a result, and these issues are impacting healthcare across the country in both urban and rural areas.

However, the healthcare industry is proactively working to address these issues. Proposed solutions to these physician staffing problems reached the legislative floor. Bills are pending in Congress right now, with strong bipartisan support. 

The American Medical Association (AMA) President Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH, proposes several vital steps to address the physician shortage, including passing the “Strengthening Medicare for Patients and Providers Act” to provide physicians with annual payment updates. Ehrenfeld says that reducing administrative burdens, expanding residency training options, offering more student loan support, and creating pathways for foreign-trained physicians are essential fixes to address the staffing problems. 

It’s also crucial the industry ensures that physicians who seek mental health support are not penalized, focusing on current health conditions rather than past diagnoses. The physician shortage crisis is an urgent problem requiring immediate action, Dr. Ehrenfeld says.  For the full article on these bipartisan fixes, read more from The AMA.

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