The Value of Locum Tenens Physicians in Healthcare Facilities

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More and more healthcare facilities are turning to locum tenens staffing solutions for good reasons: with physicians, PA’s, nurse practitioners and specialists available when you need them, the stress of hiring has been lessened. Beyond just the convenience, however, most healthcare facilities want to understand the value of hiring locum tenens.

If you are considering hiring locums, rest assured you are making a wise decision. Here is the information to consider.

The Dollars and Cents

Using locum tenens physicians, in many cases, is comparable to full-time permanent employment of a similarly qualified physician. Just as an example, a family practitioner paid $180k/year costs about $720/day for a 5 day work week with 50 weeks worked (assuming two vacation weeks that year). When you add the additional expenses of the employer’s portion of FICA, continuing education, benefits, malpractice, etc., you could be looking at an additional $60k/year per practitioner.

When you hire a locum tenens family practitioner, your daily rate includes malpractice, travel, housing, and benefits, for about the same daily rate.

Another factor to consider is a physician shortage. When a practitioner is out, for illness, a conference, or during an employment search, you cost your healthcare facility thousands of dollars per day in lost revenue. Patients may be turned away or find other facilities. The schedule can get crazy for your other practitioners (contributing to burnout—more on that later), yet you still cannot accommodate the number of billable services and hours that you would with a full complement of practitioners.

Hiring locum tenens yields great ROI.

More Than the Money

Just like when it comes to patient care, when it comes to hiring locum tenens, it isn’t just about the bottom line. Both patient and physician satisfaction improve when you have to hire a locum.  Some examples include:

  • Patients get more immediate care and scheduling, increasing satisfaction (and referral!)
  • Practitioners have enough time with each patient, increasing patient satisfaction (and physician satisfaction as well, not to mention improved outcome).
  • Practitioners less likely to burnout, thereby improving staff turnover—physician turnover costs healthcare organizations tens of thousands of dollars!
  • Administrative personnel has more time for other needed management actions and less time spent on recruitment and hiring, thereby improving job satisfaction.
  • Healthcare facilities get to “try out” locum tenens physicians, possibly leading to a temp-to-perm placement and “eyes open” commitment by both the facility and the practitioner. That can also translate to greater satisfaction and less turnover.

While some of such examples have a direct fiscal impact, others can really only be measured by the satisfaction of patients, practitioners, and administration. Together, that satisfaction adds up to long-term value.