Key Trends for Physicians in 2012
James Heil, Senior Director of Recruiting, Delta Locum Tenens
Many of the trends that emerged over the past few years related to physicians and how they practice medicine will continue into 2012 and, in many cases, become more deeply engrained. Reimbursement from third party payers continues to decrease, while paperwork, regulations, and documentation requirements become even more onerous. For this and other reasons, a higher percentage of doctors are opting for the relative safety of being employed by health systems, hospitals and large clinics, as opposed to going at it alone in private practice or joining small groups. Primary care physicians are still in short supply in most parts of the country, a problem that is especially pronounced in rural areas.
As these trends from the last decade linger, we predict that new and more recent ones will be front and center in terms of what physicians grapple with (and in some instances leverage to their benefit) in the coming years. Some of these include:
• The prevalence of locum tenens practitioners will increase as health systems and clinics look to fill shortages, especially in primary care. The old argument that “locums is too expensive” will fall by the wayside as recruiting executives, managers, and even financial officers realize that it’s too expensive not to bring in temporary medical staff to meet patient needs. Fortunately, as the demand increases, more practitioners will opt for locum tenens, either as their full-time practice choice, or as an alternative to fully retiring as they near the end of their career.
• Younger physicians in particular will continue to have a strong preference for practice opportunities that offer not only good pay and benefits, but also schedules that allow them to have a life beyond practicing medicine. “Outpatient only” practice options will become more popular, and healthcare organizations that have yet to set up hospitalist programs will find themselves looking for ways to do so.
• Physicians will become more acutely aware of the fact that what they do drives the cost of medical care and be more likely to practice with that in mind. The American College of Physicians (second in size only to the AMA in terms of membership) recently released the sixth edition of their Ethics Manual for healthcare providers which states that, “Physicians have a responsibility to practice effective and efficient health care and to use health care resources responsibly.” The idea that “good” doctors practice medicine without taking into account the financial impact of what they order and prescribe may no longer ring as true in today’s environment of ever-increasing healthcare costs.
• Some physicians who choose to stay in private practice will look to add revenue streams to their businesses in an effort to offset lower third-party reimbursement rates. Elective cosmetic procedures, in-office prescription dispensing, and weight loss programs are among the more popular options. And although no reliable statistics currently exist on how many doctors are choosing concierge medicine as their preferred practice model, anecdotally, the numbers appear to be on the rise. Whether these tactics will help physicians fare better as the various components of health insurance reform are implemented in coming years is yet to be seen, but practitioners in large numbers are getting creative as they struggle to keep their practices financially viable.
• Doctors will continue to become more knowledgeable about technology and, driven in part by patient demand, will jump on the social networking bandwagon and be more willing to use e-mail and the internet to communicate with patients. The ACP Ethics Manual referenced above also includes a section on “social media and online professionalism,” a clear indicator that the issue is on the minds of physicians.
Hospital executives and physician recruiters who understand the challenges that today’s practitioners face position themselves as trusted advisors (or at least as sympathetic listeners), thereby building stronger relationships with members of their current and future medical staff. Stay tuned, as trends unfold and changes abound, 2012 is guaranteed to be an interesting year in more ways than we can count.
Placements & Interviews
Placement Data by Specialty
This data represents average statistics of placements and interviews by Delta Physician Placement over the twelve-month survey period. Since these averages only include placements and interviews, the compensation information presented indicates the rate at which candidates are choosing to interview or sign. Average days information can be used to forecast a probable timeline for a recruitment effort in a particular specialty.
|Average Compensation||Average Days|
|Starting Compensation||Sign-on Bonus||Total Annual Compensation||From Interview to Placement||Total Placements||Fastest Days-to-Fill|
|Oncology ||$436,123 ||$35,000 ||$482,000 ||48 ||138 ||138 |
Placements by Population
Nationwide Search Distribution
Specialty Demand Comparison
|4th Quarter 2011||4th Quarter 2010|
|1.||Family Medicine ||Family Medicine|
|2.||Internal Medicine||Emergency Medicine|
|4.||Emergency Medicine||Internal Medicine|
|15.||Otolaryngology||Pulmonary Critical Care|
Search Specialty Distribution
|Top 5 States Providers Have |
Taken New Opportunities
|Specialty||Number of Days|
Nationwide Physician Distribution
|Lowest Average |
to Close Credentialing
|Number of Days||Highest Average |
to Close Credentialing
|Number of Days|
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