Using Twitter to Stay Informed - Physician Employment Strategies

February 13th, 2012 2 Min read Using Twitter to Stay Informed - Physician Employment Strategies Blog
Today I came across another interesting tweet from Health Leaders Media (@HealthLeaders): "Healthcare Reform Mythbusting: The idea that physician employment and a shift toward an ACO model..." Since my last two posts were focused on healthcare reform and on the use of locum tenens as a solution in helping to ease the ever growing physician shortage, I was curious to read how physician employment strategies are viewed by hospital executives in light of healthcare reform. The article this tweet links to addresses two popular strategies utilized by hospital executives to ensure the long-term viability of their facilities; physician employment and becoming an accountable care organization (ACO) and presents alternatives to these strategies for decision-makers to consider as they plan for the future of their own organizations. While the article focuses mainly on opinions of, and alternatives to the accountable care organization model, I'm most interested, by the nature of my work, on how hospital executives view the employment of their physicians and seek to understand the strategic alternatives to optimizing staffing levels in this environment of legislative and economic uncertainty. It would seem as if many hospital executives are moving quickly to secure their physicians as staff employees to mitigate possible future staffing gaps that would affect their patient census needs. However, there are other executives that aren't rushing down this path. Why? Adding staff employees immediately affects their bottom line through the addition of operating expenses such as recruitment costs, benefits, perks and salary guarantees. Avoiding this is extremely prudent for those hospitals that operate on a very small profit margin. As patient census needs change and/or rise, a smart strategy to supplement hospital staff is the utilization of locum tenens physicians and other temporary healthcare providers. These non-staff professionals are able to be deployed and integrated quickly to ensure gaps are covered and typically come with lower administrative costs than a staff employee. Locum tenens physicians, if secured from a reputable firm, are covered by malpractice insurance and arrive appropriately licensed, credentialed and with the necessary hospital privileges. As the Health Leaders article states, rushing to hire all the physicians in an organization as staff employees, "may not be right for everyone - even in the long term." Smart hospital executives will consider all the alternatives before crafting and implementing critical strategies for long-term sustainability. Click for more information on the practice and utilization of locum tenens. Stay connected. Stay informed. And check back for updates from me on the most sizzling of healthcare Twitter topics. Happy tweeting! @comphealth