In the Interim | Provider Compensation On The Rise, Dollar General Abandons Primary Care, Workforce Crisis in Full Effect & More

“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 this month.   

1. Providers and APPs report compensation gains for 4th consecutive year 

The latest Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) data shows provider compensation continued to rise in 2023 for the fourth consecutive year. Primary care physicians and surgical specialists each saw a median compensation increase of 4%, while non-surgical physicians experienced a 2% increase. The report also noted 10% gains in both dermatology and neurological surgery, while advanced practice providers recorded a 6% increase, adding to a 16% gain compared to pre-pandemic 2019.

Provider productivity increased alongside compensation in 2023. MGMA President and CEO Dr. Halee Fischer-Wright noted that despite the rising cost of healthcare and persistent staffing challenges, medical groups improved productivity to meet the growing demand for care. Fischer-Wright encouraged medical group leaders to “embrace the latest digital technologies to assist in optimizing operations, maintaining access to care, and recognizing meaningful cost savings” as staffing shortages continue.

(RevCycle Intelligence, May 29, 2024) 

2. Report reveals severe physician shortages in hospital practice settings

A recent report by Doximity highlights the most severe physician shortages in hospital practice settings. Based on a survey of over 1,100 physicians, hospitals face the highest shortages, with 40% of physicians rating the shortage as severe. This is closely followed by health systems/IDNs/ACOs (36%) and multi-specialty groups (29%). 

Physicians reported significant consequences from these shortages, including overwork, burnout, and diminished job satisfaction. Rural areas experience the worst shortages, with 32% of physicians indicating severe shortages. 

(Becker’s Hospital Review, May 28, 2024) 

3. Dollar General ends mobile clinic program with DocGo

​Dollar General announced the discontinuation of its pilot program with mobile care provider DocGo. Launched in 2023, the partnership aimed to enhance access to healthcare products and services. The initiative provided mobile health clinics to offer basic, preventive, and urgent-care services at three Tennessee locations. The company’s decision to end the program echoes trends seen with other major retailers, such as Walmart and Walgreens, which have also faced challenges with primary care initiatives due to reimbursement issues and escalating operating costs. 

The mobile clinic project was part of Dollar General’s broader strategy to diversify its offerings and deliver essential healthcare services to underserved communities. Despite the potential benefits, the financial sustainability of the clinics proved difficult. Moving forward, Dollar General will focus on offering health and wellness products within its stores rather than direct healthcare services.

(Healthcare Brew, June 3, 2024) 

4. Coalition urges FTC to delay enforcement of non-compete ban

A coalition of 230 national associations, including the American Hospital Association, is urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to delay the enforcement of the Non-Compete Clause Final Rule, which is set to take effect on Sept. 4, 2024. Issued in April, this rule would ban most noncompete agreements across various sectors, including healthcare. 

The noncompete ban has sparked controversy, with organizations like the US Chamber of Commerce filing legal challenges against the final rule, arguing that the FTC exceeded its legal authority. The coalition contends that the new rule would create significant uncertainty and financial burdens for businesses. They are advocating for a postponement until legal challenges are resolved, claiming that a delay would provide clarity and prevent unnecessary costs for companies and employees.

(RevCycle Intelligence, June 4, 2024)

5. ACP calls for balanced AI use in healthcare, stressing support for clinicians

The American College of Physicians (ACP) recently published a paper highlighting the role of artificial intelligence as a supportive medical tool rather than a determinant of patient care. While acknowledging AI’s potential to mitigate clinician shortages, alleviate burnout, and streamline administrative tasks, the ACP cautions against over-reliance on AI due to risks such as reinforcing biases and inequities in healthcare. The ACP further recommends transparent AI development practices and advises physicians to adopt a balanced approach to AI integration.

The paper emphasizes the need for federal strategies to regulate AI in healthcare and recommends training physicians in AI technologies, stressing that AI should support—not replace—clinical judgment. 

(Medical Economics, June 5, 2024)

6. Healthcare workforce crisis intensifies as burnout leads to doctor and nurse exodus

Healthcare faces a critical workforce crisis as doctors and nurses leave due to burnout, emotional exhaustion, and understaffing. Hospitals are increasingly alarmed by these shortages, worsened by the pandemic, which has also led to declining patient care quality. Experts believe understaffing results from intentional cost-cutting measures. High-profile strikes and unionization efforts are on the rise as workers demand better conditions. 

The shortage is particularly severe in rural and underserved areas. The Biden administration’s new nursing home staffing ratios aim to ensure safe conditions but face opposition over feasibility. Overall, maintaining adequate staffing levels is a significant challenge amidst rising dissatisfaction and mental health issues among healthcare workers.

(Axios, June 7, 2024)

7. High burnout rates among doctors and students highlight the need for healthcare reforms

A recent survey by The Physicians Foundation revealed that 60% of doctors experience burnout, as do medical students (55%) and residents (43%). Dr. Stefanie Simmons of the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation stresses the need for the healthcare industry to address the intense pressures on aspiring doctors and nurses. 

The Association of American Medical Colleges projects a significant physician shortage, potentially reaching 86,000 by 2036, making it essential to retain healthcare professionals. While younger generations may be more open to mental health support, academic pressures have intensified, contributing to burnout. Experts advocate for more diverse experiences in medical training and reevaluating traditional residency expectations to promote sustainable healthcare careers. Nursing leaders also stress the importance of mentoring and manageable workloads to support new nurses effectively.

(Chief Healthcare Executive, June 11, 2024) 

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.