News & Views

Perspectives on the locum tenens industry

In the Interim: Healthcare Leads Employment Growth; Telemedicine Pros and Cons; Strategies for Reviving Specialty Care & 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 October’s roundup.   

1. Inflation Reduction Act Takes Effect: Biosimilar Payment Boost for Medicare 

In order to help drive down medical costs, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) included a provision for biosimilar drugs in the Inflation Reduction Act. Now, Medicare adds an extra boost to payments on biosimilar drugs in an effort to encourage prescription drug competition. The law also allows Medicare to negotiate prescription drug costs with pharmaceutical companies as long as there aren’t any existing generic or biosimilar products.  

Ultimately, these changes should drive down healthcare costs for Medicare patients, especially those requiring costly treatments for diabetes, cancer, and other immune disorders. However, it’s still unclear how those costs will be recouped and the impact it will have on hospitals and physicians. 

Related resources: 

(Healthpayer Intelligence, October 04, 2022)   

2. Health Care Leads Job Growth as National Unemployment Rate Drops to 3.5% 

According to the Employment Situation Summary, September was a milestone month for healthcare! After adding 60,000 jobs—primarily in ambulatory care, hospitals, and home healthcare—unemployment levels officially returned to the pre-pandemic levels of February 2020. As numbers begin rebounding, the Bureau of Labor Statistics aims to change the questions and identify new metrics for the next the Employment Situation Summary (slated to publish in early November). 

(Medical Economics, October 07, 2022)   

3. MGMA survey: New Good Faith Estimates Causing Extreme Burdens for Physician Practices 

The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) publishes an annual regulatory burden report to survey practices on their challenges, highlight significant overlap, and provide more information about causes of burnout and attrition.  

Although prior authorization remains the top reported burden, “good faith estimates,” a requirement of the No Surprises Act, is a close second. This effort to give patients more price transparency saddles physicians with additional, time-consuming compliance paperwork. Administrative burden increased for 82% of practices, and 74% of practices can’t accommodate the new requirements in 2023 due to limited technical infrastructure.  

(Fierce Healthcare, October 12, 2022) 

4. Three Top-of-mind Challenges for Specialty Care and How to Overcome Them

The pandemic changed the face of healthcare. Although ERs were flooded with patients receiving life-saving care for severe COVID-19 symptoms, specialty care suffered. Those waiting rooms were empty as practices transitioned to telehealth and patients began skipping any perceived “unnecessary appointments.” Unfortunately, patients are continuing to delay their very necessary care.   

Specialty practices are encouraging discourse about reengaging these patients while keeping in mind the staff shortages, burnout, and cost of inflation. This article offers three broad strategies for navigating challenges and how they might revive specialty care. 

(MedCity News, October 13, 2022)

5. Hospitals Implement Retention Strategies to Stave Off Staffing Shortages 

Kaufman Hall’s 2022 Healthcare Performance Improvement Report reveals key data regarding hospital and health system retention strategies. Two-thirds of respondents needed to run at a decreased capacity over the past year due to staffing shortages. And as more providers face burnout and retirement, 100% of survey respondents report that they adopted a recruitment/retention strategy. With the workforce crisis expanding, 67% have increased wages over 10% for their clinical staff members to assuage these shortages and encourage recruitment and retention. 

(Medical Economics, October 18, 2022)   

6. Telemedicine Could Be Your Best Job Ever, As Long As You Know What You’re Signing on For 

Over the last three years, telemedicine use exploded out of necessity. Medical governance commissions struggled to keep up with laws to accommodate and protect both physicians and their patients. Now, clinicians and lawmakers must come to an understanding of how telemedicine fits in our “new normal.”  

Like everything in life, telemedicine has both pros and cons—for the physician and the patient. While telemedicine provides the illusion of scheduling freedom and increased community access to healthcare, the author guides everyone to exercise caution regarding its permanent integration. 

(Op-Med, October 17, 2022)   

7. Physicians with Mental Illness Shouldn’t Hide 

Penned by a physician, this article proves as a wakeup call about mental health in the clinical space and how employers can properly support their physicians. She clarifies that doctors don’t need more mental health awareness or an emphasis on confidentiality. Instead, she emphasizes a need for a cultural shift to normalize and support physicians with mental illnesses across licensing, credentialing, and their entire employment journey. 

(KevinMD, October 22, 2022) 

8. Drivers in Decline: A Shortage of Volunteers Complicates Access to Care in Rural America 

Rural areas struggle with access to care; volunteer drivers are one solution to the problem. In 2018, Minnesota had 1,900 volunteers who helped transport 77,000 riders. These driving initiatives provide volunteer help to shuttle patients to and from appointments—despite the cost and insurance implications that serve as an additional barrier.  

Volunteers are currently eligible for a reimbursement of just 14 cents per mile. By contrast, the Internal Revenue Service raised the business rate from 58.5 cents per mile to 62.5 cents per mile in June. The charitable rate has not been adjusted since 1997. Auto insurers often place pressure on drivers, requiring more expensive insurance meant for Lyft/Uber drivers, despite the service being volunteer based. These services are advocating for rate adjustments and more lenient insurance policies in addition to improving their volunteer recruitment.  

(Kaiser Health News, October 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.