Locum Tenens Physicians Fill in Where Needed

October 28, 2019
MHE Staff
MHE Staff

Short-term placements in healthcare facilities serve as a staffing option.

Healthcare executives are faced with a variety of issues requiring action within the next 12 to 24 months. In a survey of 260 healthcare executives conducted by LocumTenens.com, a job board for physicians, PAs, NPs, and CRNAs, the top five priorities that emerged are:

- Improving quality of care (ranked 8.8/10)
- Improving patient experience (ranked 8.7/10)
- Meeting increased demand for patient care services (ranked 8.4/10)
- Retaining physicians (ranked 8.4/10)
- Increasing overall operational efficiencies, beyond staffing (ranked 8.3/10)

Improving the quality of care and improving the patient experience are critical areas of focus in an environment of constant change and increased industry consolidation. One way they address these issues is through using locum tenens as a staffing option to help with an urgent need for difficult-to-fill specialties or to extend services in rural areas where access to care is a challenge. Locum tenens is a Latin phrase that means “to hold the place of, to substitute for.”

Related: Supplemental Support In Primary Care Can Improve Health

In the survey, 68% of executives and administrators said they are familiar with the concept of locum tenens; and 55% are likely to use the short-term replacements as a staffing option in the next 12 to 24 months.

In a separate LocumTenens.com survey of 545 clinicians, 87% said they are familiar with the concept of locum tenens; and 60% said they are likely or highly likely to consider locum tenens as an employment option in the next 12 to 24 months.

Locum tenens helps healthcare organizations––whether large, regional or rural facilities, or clinics––improve both quality of care and experiences for their patients, and retain their practitioners, according to the company.

As industry projections show a growing shortage of physicians over the next several years, meeting increased demand for care services becomes even more of a challenge. One way that healthcare organizations are addressing this widening gap between physician supply and demand is the increased use of advanced practitioners across a variety of medical specialties.

LocumTenens.com found that physicians and advanced practitioners often cite a lack of work-life balance as a key contributor to feelings of burnout, which can dramatically impact retention and overall patient care quality and outcomes. According to the survey, work-life balance was the number one overall career driver for clinicians, even above income generation. Locum tenens allows permanent staff to free up hours to achieve more balance. 

Healthcare executives also seek to create operational efficiencies for their organizations particularly at a time of significant industry change. There continues to be a strong focus on leveraging automation and innovation to help streamline workflows and points of friction across the healthcare value chain.

Reducing or eliminating these friction points will also help with driving the other top three healthcare strategic priorities: Improved quality of care, improved patient experience, and meeting increased demand for patient services. Addressing any one of these priorities helps lift the others, which is how healthcare organizations are expecting to drive real change in 2020 and beyond.