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Perspectives on the locum tenens industry

In the Interim: More Physicians Open to Rural Practice; New Hospital Policies Helping with Burnout and Retention & 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 for March's roundup.   

1. Market May be Shifting as More Physicians Willing to Consider Rural Practice 

Good news for rural healthcare: according to a recent survey, 90% of doctors are willing to consider practicing in rural areas. 

This study of about 1,300 physicians worked to understand recruitment, retention, and identify the most crucial factors for doctors to accept a permanent position. Compensation, flexible hours, and work-life balance were the three most critical areas of importance to physicians. The survey also asked if permanent docs were willing to try out a rural environment; about 72% of physicians were open to working a locum tenens position to test out the fit in a rural area. 

These survey results provide key metrics for administrators actively hiring, and they bode well for physician shortages and recruitment challenges in rural healthcare. 

(Medical Economics, March 2, 2022) 

2. Public Health Experts Sketch a Roadmap to Get from the COVID Pandemic to the ‘Next Normal’ 

A new report written by experts, several of whom have advised the Biden Administration, begins to chart a course away from reactionary COVID-19 management, offering proactive insight to treating the virus as a continual presence and mitigating its long-term effects. 

In addition to better indoor air quality and continued funding for antiviral treatments, the 136-page report discusses three different scenarios for an imagined “post-pandemic future,” one where COVID-19 is not forgotten, but treated with equal attention and importance as the flu. 

(STAT, March 7, 2022)

3. The Health Worker Shortage is Starting to Get Real for Americans 

A new project from CVS Health-Harris Poll National Health studied how the healthcare worker shortage is affecting the lives of average Americans. Almost 45% of those polled struggled to schedule appointments, and as a result, about 20% skipped an annual checkup.  

Although the healthcare field experienced pressure from the physician shortage long before the pandemic, COVID-19 was the catalyst for patients to notice the impact. Unlike other supply chain shortages or demands, “this isn’t a typical consumer good. This is people’s health. Patients are losing patience,” John Gerzema, CEO of The Harris Poll, commented.  

(Axios, March 7, 2022)   

4. Hospitals are Investing in Their Workforce: Is it Paying Off? 

Several hospitals and health systems across the country recently implemented large-scale investments to assuage physician burnout and bolster recruitment and retention. Efforts include collaborations to provide student loan repayment, sizable referral bonuses, and salary market adjustments.  

Based on the data from three examples, these policies are proving early successes. 

(Becker’s Hospital Review, March 9, 2022)   

5. When COVID Emergency Ends, Millions will Lose Medicaid Coverage

The federal government provided additional funding to state Medicaid programs, insuring millions of additional people who needed assistance. From February 2020 to September 2021, enrollment in both Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program reached 84.8 million, skyrocketing 19.1%. When the public health emergency ends, additional federal funding could cease as early as July, leaving 16 million people (about the population of New York) without coverage.  

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and other groups are furiously working with payers to smooth the transition and alleviate a massive surge in the number of uninsured. Depending on where they live, people who lose coverage could see detrimental effects.  

(Medical Economics, March 15, 2022)

6. Most Doctors Have Patients Affected by Social Drivers but Feel Ill-Equipped to Address Them, Survey Finds

Patient care is impacted by a variety of factors, including social determinants of health (SDOH). SDOH encompass environmental challenges such as food insecurity, instable housing, access to transportation, and financial struggles. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the impact of these challenges. According to a new survey by the Physicians Foundation, 60% of doctors are often unable to address SDOH. 

There are a variety of proposed policy solutions, including reimbursement for all physician efforts to address these social issues and incentivizing investments in local resources. The Physicians Foundation proposed quality measures to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. If these quality measures are approved, it would be the first time that federal payment programs recognize social drivers. 

(Fierce Healthcare, March 23, 2022)

7. Understanding Consent-to-Settle in Your Malpractice Insurance Policy 

Malpractice insurance is costly but necessary. One aspect of your policy, the consent to settle provision, plays a crucial role in how your claims are handled – it gives you the authority to settle (or not). This article covers its importance, how carriers can limit your decision-making, and what you can do to manage any future malpractice claims. 

(KevinMD, March 24, 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.