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Improving Access to Care through Flexible Staffing

By: Locumtenens.com | Updated on June 02, 2022

Improving Access to Care through Flexible Staffing

Each week during the month of June, we will highlight a hospital that is taking a creative approach to addressing the challenges of physician staffing. While their situation may be unique, in most cases, these examples serve as a roadmap for how a hospital can deliver access and value to its patients and community.

Healthcare is changing in front of our eyes. New challenges and external factors are forcing administrators to invest in new care models that can lead to improved experiences and greater access for patients.

Clinician staffing is the cornerstone of these care models. At many hospitals, that means looking at hybrid physician staffing models that best utilize in-person and telehealth care delivery.

Psychiatric care is a particular area of focus for many hospitals. Numerous studies have shown the need for access to psychiatric care and the gap in access to necessary services. That is easily visible in certain areas of the country where the rate of psychiatrists per capita is a fraction of more populated areas. For instance, Washington, D.C.’s psychiatrist per capita rate is 10 times the lowest rate of psychiatrists.

One hospital LocumTenens.com works with in a rural area of the country has innovated and evolved over the years by exploring new labor models and emphasizing locum tenens staffing. The 300+ bed facility’s telehealth and flexible staffing model has matured into a hybrid staffing model that has increased access to care for its patients and delivered on the community’s need for additional psychiatric resources.

While the hospital prefers onsite psychiatric care in most cases, that is not possible in all scenarios. Hospital administrators say it is unique to have a 300+ bed facility in the area, which comes with challenges from a behavioral health perspective. There is simply too much need compared to the amount of providers they can recruit. Administrators say they are constantly short staffed and rely on locum tenens coverage to meet their patients’ needs.

The hybrid staffing model for psychiatry has been an important tool for the hospital and yielded results.

Administrators take pride in the relationship clinicians have with patients. They have d noticed that utilizing both onsite and telehealth services has created an environment of trust with patients, where their patients have a comfort level with the hybrid approach that they wouldn’t have with a fully virtual care model. Their focus is on building long-term relationships that are in the best interest of the patient.

LocumTenens.com first brought telehealth services to the facility in 2017. As the hybrid staffing program was designed, the hospital creates weekly schedules for both onsite and telehealth coverage, which provides administrators with a clear picture of staffing gaps that may develop during the week. They’ve also found success by holding a daily Treatment Team meeting, which helps to mitigate any concerns about the day’s schedule and ensures the entire team understands their role on the care team.

The hospital found success working with a staffing company that can provide both onsite and telehealth physicians. This flexibility gives them an advantage when developing schedules and meeting patient needs. Going forward, the hospital plans to continue building out its hybrid staffing model to ensure access to psychiatric care for its patients, despite a difficult staffing environment.

For more on Flexible Staffing and how LocumTenens.com can help you on your journey, visit our telehealth resources page.