by WEX Health
A new entrant into the healthcare marketplace looks to help address the shortage of physicians anticipated by 2025 – a 90,000 physician shortage to be exact, according the medical school and teaching associations.
Along with those numbers, the Bureau of Labor Statistics adds that healthcare practitioners and healthcare support positions are expected to be the fastest growing jobs from now until 2024. Registered nurses are on both lists, expected to be in shortage and among the fastest growing positions.
Creating this situation is an aging population with chronic diseases, some of whom plan on continuing to work, meaning employers must begin addressing their needs as well. The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 capped federally funded residency programs for physicians and has thus contributed to less new practicing doctors. Plus, the Affordable Care Act increased the number of those with insurance bringing more new patients into the system then ever before.
Understanding what is happening in the system has lead some physicians to turn to freelance work, known in the industry as “locum tenens”. Working as a freelancer gives physicians more flexibility, usually better pay, and quicker reimbursement. In 2016, 94 percent of hospitals used locum tenens doctors, up from 74 percent in 2012.
This isn’t necessarily ideal for hospitals as it costs them more to use freelance physicians. However, as experts note the industry is lagging behind as on average it takes more than four months for a clinician to change jobs or for a hospital to find talent.
New startups are using technology to bridge this gap. Some have designed a clinical, online marketplace to streamline the recruitment process so employers with freelance openings can find physicians seeking temporary positions. Another platform looks to engage registered nurses, nurse practitioners as well as physician assistants who may be graduating from new training programs and are transitioning into a new career.
Healthcare recruitment will continue to be a hot topic as this process comes into focus over the next several years, hopefully helping to mitigate the effects of these possible healthcare professional shortages.
Sources: HealthecareDive Brief. New startup Pivot Health looks to disrupt healthcare staffing. August 23, 2017.
PwC’s HRI Weekly Insights. Use of freelance physicians rise. September 5, 2017.