Locums Digest #71 | CHG’s 2024 State of Locums, Temp Staffing Declines but Locums Up 15%, Two Locums Agencies Rebrand & More

Industry insights dropping soon

The Locumpedia team spent the month of April collecting compelling insights from a half-dozen locum leaders about the locum tenens industry’s current state and future opportunities for growth. We’re putting the finishing touches on our 2024 Locum Tenens Industry Outlook report, so keep an eye out for it later this week. In the meantime, let’s dive into Locums Digest 71.

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2024 State of Locum Tenens Report: Enhancing Healthcare Access & Streamlining Admin Processes

CHG’s recently published 2024 State of Locum Tenens Report highlights the crucial role of locum tenens in addressing healthcare disparities, particularly in underserved areas. Locum tenens has emerged in the post-Covid era as a strategic solution for managing provider burnout and preventing revenue loss. 

Nearly 50% of the healthcare organizations surveyed rely on locums to avoid financial downturns, and those with efficient billing practices for locum services can generate significantly higher revenues. The approach not only aids in maintaining continuous patient care but also serves as a testing ground for potential permanent hires.

Despite its advantages, the locum model faces skepticism regarding its cost-effectiveness and the continuity of care. About 88% of healthcare organizations surveyed say they hesitate to use locums because of the higher costs compared to permanent hires. The administrative burden of managing multiple locum tenens providers also presents significant challenges, particularly with credentialing and billing issues.

Innovative management strategies, like funneling locum requests through one central department, are being adopted to streamline the hiring process. Large healthcare organizations, such as Parkview Health and UnityPoint Health, have successfully enhanced their administrative efficiency and strategic planning by appointing dedicated internal coordinators for locum tenens staffing, thus improving overall operational visibility and decision-making.

Here are some key insights found in the report:

  • 82% of healthcare organizations use locums to fill open positions temporarily.
  • Facilities correctly billing for locum tenens generate 400% more revenue than those that don’t.
  • 7% of physicians work locum tenens full or part-time.
  • 46% of physicians choose locum tenens to supplement income.
  • Psychiatry (32.6%) and gastroenterology (30.8%) are top locum tenens specialties.

Read the full report.

La Vida Locum

Temporary Staffing Revenue Decline Continues

According to a recent Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) Pulse survey, which draws on feedback from 172 staffing firms, temporary staffing revenues experienced a median decrease of 5% year-over-year. Compared to eight other staffing segments, locum tenens was the only sector to report a 15% growth in median revenue. Travel nurse staffing faced the most significant drop, plunging by 16%, with per diem nursing and industrial sectors also reporting declines of 10% and 7% respectively.

The survey further highlighted trends in sales and recruiting difficulties, with the average sales difficulty index rising slightly to 3.56 from 3.46, suggesting a tightening market. Conversely, the average recruiting difficulty dipped to 2.94 from 3.08, maintaining a negative gap between recruiting and sales challenges, indicative of a loosening labor market. Additionally, the survey revealed that 45% of firms plan to ramp up their investment in technology, particularly in sourcing automation, which saw a 34% increase in spending. 

Hayes Locums: The Physician Assistant Licensure Compact: Simplifying Practice Across State Lines

Physician assistants (PAs) are essential to the healthcare system, providing critical patient care across various settings. However, one of the significant hurdles they face is the complex process of obtaining licensure in different states. The compact is a legally binding agreement among participating states, allowing them to recognize each other’s valid, unencumbered PA licenses.

The compact grants eligible PAs—who must hold an active license in a member state—the ability to apply for a compact privilege in other member states, which facilitates smooth transitions for short-term assignments or longer periods. The compact increases licensure portability, reduces bureaucratic licensing procedures, and expands access to care, particularly in underserved regions. 

Physician Assistant Workforce Sees Ongoing Growth

According to a report by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants , the physician assistant profession in the U.S. has seen substantial growth, with the number of certified PAs increasing by 28% from 2018 to 2022. Within those 4 years, the ratio of board-certified PAs rose from 40 to 50 per 100,000 people. Mississippi, South Carolina, and Indiana recorded the highest growth rates, while West Virginia, North Dakota, and the District of Columbia noted minimal increases. 

Telemedicine has become an integral part of the PA profession, with a significant surge in its use from 9% in 2018 to 40% in 2022. Alaska leads in telemedicine adoption among PAs, largely due to a 2022 telehealth law facilitating virtual healthcare services, which is crucial given the state’s geographic challenges. 

Interstate Medical Licensure Compact: Considerations for Arkansas

As states struggle with physician shortages, particularly in rural regions, compacts like the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC) simplify the licensing process, allowing physicians to extend their practice across state borders more easily and quickly.

Despite the benefits, the Arkansas State Medical Board expressed reservations about joining the IMLC in 2017, citing feasibility issues. However, with the majority of neighboring states now part of the compact, Arkansas is reconsidering its stance. An in-depth exploration of the IMLC, alongside a review of the concerns previously raised by the Arkansas board and the legislative adjustments needed to facilitate membership, could help Arkansas and similar states assess the potential advantages of participation.

Locum Leaders

Jackson Healthcare’s David Robertson Named Chief Risk Officer

Jackson Healthcare announced the promotion of  David Robertson to the position of Chief Risk Officer, effective March 29, 2024. In his new role, Robertson will oversee all aspects of enterprise risk management across the company’s various branches, including risk transfer, insurance procurement, claims litigation management, captive management, acquisition due diligence, and compliance.

Prior to joining Jackson Healthcare in 2021, Robertson held positions as Managing Director for Georgia at Wells Fargo Insurance (now USI Insurance Services) and leadership roles at Willis Group Holdings (now WTW) and Marsh. His knowledge and dedicated leadership have been pivotal in advancing the company’s risk management capabilities, earning him accolades from colleagues, including Leslie Kurtz, the CFO, who commended his impactful contributions to the organization.

ConTemporary Locums Rebrands as Era Locums

ConTemporary Locums, founded by locum tenens veteran Sigrid Boring, announced the firm is rebranding with a new name and brand identity: Era Locums. “We worked closely with our branding partner to develop a strategy that reflects our culture and values,” said Boring, CEO of the San Diego-based locum tenens agency. “That meant deeply understanding our providers and clients and communicating with them in a meaningful way. I’m excited about how our new brand does that.”

View the rebranded Era Locums website.

Luna Locums Emerges from the Shadows

Driven by a personal mission shaped by his background and a critical health scare, Shawn Dargusch recently announced the launch of Luna Locums through an inspiring LinkedIn post. Raised in a rural, blue-collar town by a nurse mother, he ventured into healthcare staffing, contributing significantly to building some of the industry’s largest firms, including Oxford Global Resources, Barton Associates and most recently GQR Global Markets.

His journey took a pivotal turn following a stage 1 colorectal cancer diagnosis, which underscored the importance of accessible quality healthcare and shifted his focus towards balancing work with family time. Luna Locums represents not only a business initiative but also Dargusch’s commitment to enhancing healthcare access in communities similar to his hometown, ensuring his professional pursuits align with his personal values and life goals.

This personal challenge inspired him to establish Luna Locums, a staffing firm aimed at improving healthcare access in underserved areas. Through Luna Locums, he strives to leave a legacy of impact without regrets, inviting others to join his mission.

Maxim Healthcare Staffing rebrands as Amergis

Continuing the rebranding theme, Maxim Healthcare Staffing has rebranded as Amergis to more accurately reflect the company’s suite of staffing services extending beyond the healthcare industry into government, correction facilities, and managed care organizations.  In addition to the name change—derived from the words “adapt” and “merge”—the company also announced the national expansion of its education staffing division, Amergis Educational Staffing

All Star Healthcare Solutions Earns Five National Culture Excellence Awards

All Star Healthcare Solutions®, a leader in healthcare staffing, has been awarded all five Top Workplaces Culture Excellence awards for 2024, including Compensation & Benefits, Innovation, Leadership, Purpose & Values, and Work-Life Flexibility. These awards, given by HR technology and research company Energage, complement the Top Workplaces USA accolades received earlier this year.

Ken Bernstein, CEO and President of All Star, said, “It’s extremely rewarding to be recognized for such key values,” expressing pride in the company’s culture, which fosters a caring, performance-driven atmosphere. The recognition speaks to All Star’s dedication to ensuring high-quality healthcare accessibility, and upholding strong internal values and support among staff.

Hire Power

A Social Media Prescription for Healthcare Recruiters

The effectiveness of social media as a crucial tool for healthcare recruiting was a key topic of discussion at the annual AAPPR conference, held March 25-27 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. Despite common misconceptions, a significant 87.9% of healthcare workers engage with social media, often utilizing these platforms to explore career opportunities and gather industry information. Presenters emphasized the importance of healthcare recruiters using social media to enhance employer branding, improve role attractiveness, and increase visibility among potential hires. 

It was noted that a strategic, tailored approach is essential, such as integrating both corporate and personal branding elements effectively. Recruiters are advised to consistently communicate their mission and core values while maintaining a recognizable visual identity across posts. Recommended best practices included optimizing social media profiles, networking, regular content sharing, and tracking key performance indicators such as reach, engagement rate, and conversion rates.

AI Combats Healthcare Staffing Shortages in Rural Facilities   

The rise of artificial intelligence is significantly impacting healthcare staffing, especially in mitigating shortages in remote and rural facilities. AI streamlines staffing by automating repetitive tasks and accelerating processes, such as candidate screening and onboarding. This integration into systems like EMRs and other management platforms enhances efficiency and facilitates quicker staffing solutions.

AI also plays a crucial role in workforce planning and recruitment through predictive analytics, which helps facilities anticipate staffing needs and plan accordingly. These capabilities are particularly beneficial for managing locum tenens and maintaining adequate staffing levels during peak times or staff shortages. As healthcare facilities adopt AI, they must carefully consider their specific needs, compliance requirements, and the financial implications of new technologies to ensure effective integration and utilization.

New VeloSource VP’s Critical Role in Navigating Risk

An aging population and physician shortage are increasing the demand for locum tenens solutions. The industry is projected to expand by 10% annually, highlighting the critical role that agencies play in mitigating risks and ensuring quality care across providers, facilities, and patients. 

In response, VeloSource has named Kelly Hetterman Vice President of Risk & Quality Assurance. In his new role, Hetterman will increase efforts toward comprehensive compliance programs, stringent credential checks, and robust risk assessment strategies.

Making the Rounds

Optum Physician Exodus

Oregon Medical Group, a subsidiary of Optum Inc., under UnitedHealth Group, has seen a significant exodus of 32 physicians in the past two years, raising concerns over patient care. Some doctors reportedly handle up to 2,800 patients annually, indicating a potential strain on the quality of service. Both physicians and patients have voiced concerns about the focus on profit and expansion at the expense of patient care. 

One long-term patient, Tim Christie, expressed shock at being abruptly discharged from care. The issue has caught the attention of local lawmakers, including Rep. Nancy Nathanson, who noted a growing crisis in healthcare access, with potentially thousands of patients left without adequate medical support.

New Ban On Noncompetes Could Have Big Impact On Healthcare

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently passed a rule to prohibit noncompete agreements, a move that could significantly impact the healthcare workforce, particularly affecting 37% to 45% of physicians currently under such contracts. The FTC said that banning these agreements, which restrict job mobility for a wide range of workers, including healthcare professionals, could lower healthcare costs by up to $194 billion over the next decade by reducing industry consolidation and price hikes.

The decision has sparked a debate within the healthcare sector. Hospitals, particularly for-profit facilities, contend that noncompetes are vital for attracting and retaining talent and argue that the new FTC rule unfairly exempts nonprofits, creating an uneven playing field. Critics believe these agreements limit career movement for healthcare workers, forcing them to leave their field or relocate to find new employment—issues that are particularly acute in rural areas facing provider shortages. This rule is likely to face legal challenges, potentially delaying its implementation.

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