Finding a locum tenens replacement for a single retiring physician can be challenging enough. For a solo practice manager, finding replacements for multiple doctors at several facilities across the country can feel like an impossible proposition.
Every hospital has different needs. Each shift requires different levels of training. That’s a formidable task for the most resourceful manager who has many years of experience. When the task becomes that overwhelming, that’s when it’s time to team up with a locum tenens staffing agency that can share the burden of maintaining optimal staffing levels. The right agency can even remove that burden from their client entirely and take it upon themselves.
One particular national group found that Interim Physicians’ extensive network of physicians built and nurtured for 44 years could deliver the right provider for any shift they needed to fill. Consistent delivery of quality providers over time builds trust. After a few years of outshining other agencies, Interim was named as the group’s exclusive locum tenens partner.
Before long, this practice management realized they could achieve even greater operational efficiency by turning over 100% of their schedule to Interim. We enthusiastically embraced this rare opportunity. We were confident in our ability to execute for this longtime client, and when we did accomplish the goal of filling every available shift, our team took a victory lap.
An Innovative Staffing Solution: The Physician Relationship Manager
As an agency credited with co-creating the locum tenens staffing industry in 1979, Interim has seen it all, both good and bad. For less experienced staffing agencies, the task is often focused on filling the shift at all costs. At times, the wrong candidates are pushed through the vetting process, and oversights like this can be disastrous for the client.
For those recruiters, it might not seem overly consequential to gloss over the details of an assignment or to ignore seemingly small misalignments with the provider’s preferences. But Interim recognizes these incompatibilities are prime reasons why providers back out of an assignment at the last minute or don’t complete their assignment.
In the case of our practice management group, this could have left them scrambling to account for dozens of scheduling gaps they thought were covered, in addition to their still-vacant shifts.
We value our ability to match ideal providers to the right facility, but we also understand how vital speed-to-market is in healthcare—especially when you’re dealing with numerous nationwide facilities. We succeeded in consistently delivering quality locums to this practice management group, thanks in large part to our innovative Physician Relationship Manager role, a specialized staffing management position that we believe is unique to Interim.
Vetting and name clearing is only half of the battle. Our team recognized a need to further streamline the credentialing process and alleviate pressure from physicians and clients alike. So, inspired by the skillset of our seasoned physician recruiter, Jennifer Guzman, we created the PRM role just for her.
“I work hard to keep the ball rolling with deadlines in mind, but I also keep an eye out for any behavior or personality traits that indicate a physician is on the fence about the job,” Jennifer says. “Based on my experience as a recruiter, I’m able to detect signs that a physician might back out at the last minute. Then I can get another physician on standby to still meet our client’s need in time.
The PRM is a great resource to smooth the process for our recruiters and credentialing team, which ultimately helps our clients. It really sets Interim apart.”
During Jennifer’s tenure as a recruiter, she forged strong relationships with providers and placed hundreds of them. Impressively, she developed a roster of 25 providers at one of the practice management group’s facilities (the average recruiter only has two or three). The leadership team knew her experience made her the ideal candidate for this newly created role.
The results speak for themselves. The PRM accelerated credentialing and upheld rigorous quality standards for our clients by:
- Serving as a liaison between our recruiters, the physician, and our internal travel, accounting, and credentialing departments
- Maintaining strict deadlines for credentialing paperwork between our team and the physician
- Identifying any “red flags” in candidates such as poor communication or lack of cooperation during credentialing
A Tailored Locums Solution
Jennifer’s extensive knowledge with this client and her unique skillset as a PRM made her the natural choice as the sole point of contact for the group, improving the client experience and streamlining our internal communication.
“This is not your ordinary locums arrangement. This client treats locums like permanent doctors. It’s a completely different contract from what we normally do. I’d learned what they like from all the interviews and acceptances during my (previous) placements,” Jennifer says. “We made some internal process adjustments to fit their needs, allowing us to keep both the client and our providers happy. That really strengthened our relationship because we didn’t treat it simply as a business transaction. We aren’t pigeonholed to ‘corporate,’ cookie-cutter operations, and that benefit allowed us to be innovative with our solution for this client. We stayed ‘human’ with them the whole time.”
Jennifer’s intimate knowledge of this client and the best types of physicians for the contract are instrumental to our team’s success. She’s created such an extensive network of matches that several physicians she recruited nearly a decade ago are still picking up shifts at the facility today.
Proactive Schedule Management
Before Interim began managing its entire schedule, the practice management group placed physicians reactively, often down to the wire. Today, they lean on our ability to proactively place locum tenens providers.
“Since I have a recruiter background, I can see the bigger picture of provider trends and who requests off or gives notice at their facility. I’m able to know a few months in advance if I need to find new physicians. They never had that before, and they really appreciate it. It’s nice to have the internal foresight where I can see gaps coming and be ready with a plan.”
Jennifer attributes successful schedule management to accountability, persistence, and customer service. She’s proven her dedication to this client with complete schedule autonomy.
“I have a great relationship with the medical director. He’s a great listener, and I’ve gained a lot of trust with him. This client is very special to me since I’ve been working so closely with the physicians for so long. At the end of the day, the medical director and I are working toward the same goal, which is: how do we keep this schedule 100% full?”
Evolving to Maximize Client Success
Working with Interim isn’t transactional; it’s a win-win relationship. Our commitment to transparent communication ensures that our physicians and clients are in sync. As a team of nearly 60 dedicated professionals, we offer the flexibility and personal touch of a much smaller company and the extensive resources of a much larger firm that’s been delivering for our clients since 1979. This practice management group’s experience exemplifies our collaborative approach to locum tenens staffing.
Over the years, we’ve seen the industry evolve again and again, and we’ve thrived with our commitment to innovative staffing solutions. For this client, that meant customizing our internal processes to accommodate total schedule management. No matter the challenge, we’re continually adapting to serve clients better.
“We take immense pride in delivering exceptional customer service to our clients and physicians. This dedication has enabled us to foster relationships built on trust, the kind of trust where we are given a responsibility as significant as managing a client’s entire schedule,” Jennifer remarks. “Our primary focus is ensuring the right fit and creating a positive experience for all parties involved, ultimately contributing to the delivery of exceptional patient care, which is our shared objective with clients.”