Reclaiming Medicine: The Locum Story of Hospitalist Dr. Brandt

In the Interim: 2023 Forecast for Rural Healthcare and Strategies for Expanding Patient Care Access, Plus Tips for Physicians to Avoid Financial Mistakes

“In the Interim” is a snapshot of the latest and most relevant news in the locum tenens industry. No repeats, less scrolling, more knowledge. Check out the articles we found most interesting for December’s roundup.

1. Challenging the Culture of Self-Sacrifice

This poignant piece pushes against the narrative of glorifying self-sacrifice in medicine. Residency normalizes a culture of consecutive shifts and even encourages competition over the number of hours worked. This performance pressure snowballs into the overall medical journey.

The author contrasts being a doctor with being a flight attendant, impressing that physicians should advocate for themselves and take time when needed. And that doctors shouldn’t be pushed to perform at less than 100%; and having the bravery to speak up should be valued for protecting patient lives.

(Physician’s Weekly, December 01, 2022)

2. Alleviating the Healthcare Workforce Challenge

Almost 90% of Medical Group Management Associations’ practice members report financial struggles due to workforce shortages which extends beyond positions requiring scrubs. Administrative roles and other positions are struggling now more than ever to recruit. But MGMA’s President, Dr. Halee Fischer-Wright, believes it will take more than competitive salaries to attract talent.

She suggests increasing outreach efforts at high schools and college fairs, reducing the hiring cycle and long work hours, and changing the healthcare work culture. Fischer-Wright notes that “changing the culture,” is a sentiment often thrown around without action. But in the wake of the pandemic, compensation models that haven’t budged in years saw an adjustment, and DEI statements are becoming table stakes. These initiatives show motivation to make necessary systemic changes in healthcare.

(Healthcare IT Today, December 02, 2022)

3. EHR Review for Burnout Reveals Hostility Toward Physicians in Patient Messages

JAMA recently published a study comparing electronic health record (EHR) use and burnout. Physicians with a higher volume of messages reported slightly higher levels of burnout.

The study analyzed the language of EHR messages. The negative messages expressed a concerning level of hostility toward physicians – frequently peppered with expletives. JAMA notes the stress these messages can cause physicians, especially since many of the frustrations tend to be outside physicians’ control. This data provides another reason to start looking at the health system and reevaluating strategies to improve patient care.

(Health Exec, December 06, 2022)

4. Patient Discharge Delays Pose Threat to Health Outcomes, AHA Seeks Temporary Funding

The American Hospital Association (AHA) reports the average patient length of stay increased by 19% this year compared to 2019. Simultaneously, hospital operation costs are skyrocketing. In 2021, hospital labor expenses per patient also saw a 19% increase from pre-pandemic levels.

The AHA has urged Congress to authorize a temporary per diem payment. This would allow hospitals to appropriately code patients who are ready for discharge but do not yet have the appropriate skilled nursing, or behavioral health care supports at home to be safely released.

(Healthcare Dive, December 07, 2022)

5. Lawmakers Propose ‘Delinking’ Telehealth Coverage from the Public Health Emergency

The COVID-19 pandemic demanded telehealth’s rapid integration and adoption. As the public health emergency comes to a close, lawmakers propose streamlining telehealth services, extending flexibilities, and infusing them with our healthcare system. Since nearly 40% of Americans still utilize telehealth in 2022, this outcome could severely impact future patient access to care.

Current telehealth flexibilities are scheduled to end 151 days after the PHE expires, which has been extended past January 11. The Senate has not yet voted on this bill to extend these flexibilities, but House members voted to expand telemedicine coverage under Medicare for two years.

(Becker’s Hospital Review, December 15, 2022)

6. 7 Immediate and Long-term Priorities for Hospitals

Hospitals face continued workforce shortages, inflation, climbing expenses, and fluctuating specialty demands. In response, medical finance experts identified seven strategies for organizations to remain strong in the new year despite these challenges.

(Fierce Healthcare, December 21, 2022)

7. Rural Hospitals Face a ‘Fiscal Cliff’

In 2020, 19 rural hospitals closed. Since then, only six more have. Although those numbers are significant, 130 rural hospitals closed their doors from 2010-2020. So, the numbers have trended down post-COVID.

Despite staffing shortages and capacity challenges, rural hospitals received billions of dollars in pandemic relief funds that alleviated economic pressure. This money served as a lifeline. Now that funds are running out, rural hospitals have projected a return to pre-pandemic profit levels—creative recruitment and retention strategies are more critical now than ever before.

(Fierce Healthcare, December 21, 2022)

8. Avoiding Financial Mistakes as a Physician

Despite the medical text you read and skills you perfected, personal finance and wealth-building weren’t included in your training. Dr. Varun Verma offers insight into three of his biggest money missteps and how you can avoid making the same financial mistakes as a physician.

(KevinMD, December 27, 2022)

That’s it for this month’s edition of In the Interim. Stay tuned for next month’s roundup of newsworthy articles for locum tenens providers. To stay in the loop on future news, follow us on LinkedIn and sign up for our monthly email newsletter for monthly news and job search tips.