Is Using Locum Tenens Risky Business?

October 8th, 2013 2 Min read Is Using Locum Tenens Risky Business? Blog
risky-locumsSome facilities are nervous to use locum tenens for the first time. It seems risky, especially when you're worried about:
  • Continuity of patient care
  • Quality of patient care
  • Cost vs. benefit
  • Malpractice
These are all valid concerns, so let's take a look at each of them. Continuity of Patient Care The only source of income for a hospital or private practice is the revenue generated by the patients that are seen. Without patients, there is no revenue. Without revenue, there is no practice. So it makes sense that a practice would be highly concerned with the continuity of care their patients receive. You may worry that your patients will balk at the idea of seeing a locum tenens provider instead of their usual doctor. Once someone gets comfortable with their primary physician, it's very hard to convince them to see someone else, right? Not really. According to a recent survey, having to see a new provider isn't even on the list of patient complaints. Quality of Patient Care If patients aren't concerned about seeing a new provider, what are they worried about? The answer is quality. There is a direct correlation between patient satisfaction and quality of patient care: when quality goes up, so does satisfaction. If you had an amazing locum tenens doctor that treated every patient with the utmost respect, increasing patient satisfaction tremendously, would it be worth the cost of a locums? I think the answer is obvious. Investing in your staff increases satisfaction for everyone. Quality of patient care really isn't about the patient having to see a few different providers; it's about how the patient is treated when they do see the provider. I'd bet the rent that a patient would be willing to see two different providers if the wait time was cut in half. Cost vs. Benefit I've addressed this concern at length in an earlier NALTO blog post. It all boils down to this: How important are your customers? Paying a little extra for a doctor that brings patient satisfaction way up can pay huge dividends down the road. Malpractice Malpractice costs have skyrocketed in the past five to ten years. On average, a physician can expect to face a malpractice claim every seven years. Waiting for a resolution of these claims can take up more than 10 percent of the average medical career -- and that doesn't include the time it takes for hospital administrative staff to deal with malpractice claims. What if you didn't have to deal with malpractice risk, payout, or litigation? Using a locum tenens provider completely takes this monkey off your back. Locum tenens providers' malpractice is covered by the staffing agency. In addition, a locum tenens agency will have a legal team on standby in the event a malpractice claim comes to light. Is it worth the risk? Now that I've dealt with some key issues surrounding locum tenens, I hope that you'll see that these issues are easily dealt with -- and more often than not, they aren't issues at all.