News & Views

Perspectives on the locum tenens industry

In the Interim: Digital Alliances to Improve Delivery of Care, a Simple Solution to Burnout, and the Latest on Long COVID & BA.2 

“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 February’s roundup.

Locum Tenens Physician News: February 2022

Pandemic-Fueled Shortages of Home Health Workers Strand Patients Without Necessary Care

Increased physician burnout and COVID-19 surges have left many elder patients in need of at-home care. In January, the Pennsylvania Homecare Association conducted a survey of Medicare-certified home health agencies and state-licensed home care agencies. Ninety-three percent of Medicare-certified home health and hospice agencies and 98% of licensed agencies said they had refused referrals during the past year.

According to Lori Pavic, a regional manager for CareGivers America, “our waiting list is over 200 folks at this time, and it grows daily,” she says. “We could hire 500 workers tomorrow and still need more.”
As agencies attempt to fill in the ever-growing gap, families are left struggling to shift their schedules and step into caregiver roles for their loved ones.

(Kaiser Health News, February 3, 2021)

 A Boost for Doctors’ Well-being? Bring Back the Physician Lounge

Unfortunately, physician burnout is always in the headlines. As we enter year three of the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals frantically seek solutions to alleviate pressure. The AMA (American Medical Association) is committed to analyzing and reducing the challenges physicians face; many of their studies show the integral role of community among colleagues.

Enloe Medical Center, a hospital in California, saw these results in real time. In 2017, they recorded their overall burnout rate at 48%. After updating their doctor’s lounge into a modern hub for their physicians to comfortably gather and relieve stress together, they recorded an 11% decrease in doctor burnout. And what’s most notable—that reduction happened despite the challenges of 2020.

(American Medical Association, February 4, 2022)

CDC Researchers Use 2M Patient Records to Shed New Light on Long COVID

The CDC studied over 2 million people to uncover long-term impacts of COVID-19 (‘long COVID’). About 10-15% of people who have had COVID report symptoms including fatigue, shortness of breath, and Type 2 diabetes. Though these numbers are concerning on their own, Dr. Shawn Murphy, Chief Research Information Officer at Mass General Brigham, estimates that symptoms are underreported.
In April 2020, PCORnet (National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network), began analyzing COVID-19 data across 42 healthcare systems for about 12 million people. There is an ongoing effort to utilize this research to address the gap in reported long COVID impact.

(Healthcare IT News, February 7, 2022)

Cadence Teams up with Community Health Systems to Bring RPM Platform for Chronic Care to Thousands

An astonishing 60% of Americans suffer from at least one chronic disease, and it costs the United States healthcare system an estimated $1.65 trillion per year.

Cadence, a digital health startup, has teamed up with community Health Systems to provide its platform to hospitals and physician offices in 16 states. The technology collects vital signs and wellness data from patients to create personalized daily care plans that increase patient engagement while decreasing hospitalizations and cost of care.

The platform currently supports patients managing hypertension, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. After reaching unicorn status in December 2021, Cadence has plans for expansion. Co-founder and CEO, Chris Altchek remarks that Cadence was created to suit the largest health systems with the flexibility to “integrate any advice, be optimized for any disease, and deliver care along any care pathway.”

Cadence is just one of the many digital health players accelerating remote patient monitoring solutions.

(Fierce Healthcare, February 10, 2022)

More Primary Care Docs Equals Higher COVID Vaccination Rates

A new study in a JAMA Network Open research letter finds a parallel between counties with a high population of PCPs and those with higher COVID-19 vaccination rates. Both urban and rural areas with more PCPs showed a 5.5% increase in vaccinations compared to the rest of the country. Researchers hypothesize a correlation between accessing vaccination information from a trusted source and assuaging vaccine hesitancy. These results are an encouragement to expand COVID-19 vaccine distribution to PCPs.

(Medpage Today, February 10, 2022)

Locumpedia Introduces the First Truly Free Locum Tenens Physician Job Board for Staffing Agencies

We are in the year 2022, and that means that physician job boards should look a little different. Locumpedia is setting the bar high with its recent unveiling of “Locumpedia Board.”

This independently-owned job board places all staffing agencies on an even playing field with no fear of data getting into the hands of a competitor. Locumpedia creates a uniquely unbiased platform for agencies and providers alike. One of their features allows providers to post reviews of agencies at which they’ve worked. These candid windows into the locum tenens staffing world generate crucial insight for physicians seeking opportunities.

(Locumpedia, February 15, 2022)

Payers, Medicaid Officials Ask Congress for 120-day Glide Path to End of COVID-19 Emergency

The COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) restricted states from dropping Medicaid enrollees. Once the PHE ends, states and payers must redetermine Medicaid eligibility; an estimated 15 million people could lose Medicaid insurance.

Although COVID cases are trending down and there is pressure to lift the PHE, healthcare-related industries are still facing immense administrative burden. In order to notify enrollees of their coverage status and properly cover alternate coverage options, advocacy groups press Congress for a 4-month notice of the PHE’s end.

(Fierce Healthcare, February 18, 2022)

Digital Psychiatry Startup Minded Grabs $25M to Boost Access to Mental Health Medications

Nearly 66% of primary care providers face difficulty referring their patients to an available psychiatrist. Even after the initial referral, patients often sit on the psychiatrist’s waiting list for months before their first appointment. If the patient requires medication, this means an even longer period of time to properly titrate their dosage. The physician shortage has heightened during the pandemic, and the psychiatry specialty in particular has seen a significant increase in demand as more and more patients seek mental health services.

Minded, a digital psychiatry startup, offers telehealth appointments, prescriptions, and medication delivery. The team hopes to double its medical team this year and make significant strides to reduce the strain on psychiatric care and the time it takes for patients to be seen and properly medicated.

(Fierce Healthcare, February 22, 2022)

BA.2 Should Still be Classified as Omicron, WHO Says

On February 22, the World Health Organization (WHO) determined that based on transmission, severity, and reinfection, the BA.2 should remain classified as a distinct sublineage of Omicron rather than getting its own name. WHO also stated that public health officials should continue monitoring its impact on diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines. Click here to view their full statement. 

Current COVID-19 Statistics by state:

(Becker’s Hospital Review, February 23, 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.