No one is immune to these staffing challenges. Most commonly, we see clients looking to address three key areas:
Recruiting—Due to national physician shortages and an increased need for healthcare services, hospitals find it difficult to recruit physicians with more competition for available talent. That has left many hospitals looking for other ways to fill staffing needs.
Access—It is vital to provide access to care for patients across the care continuum. When there is a gap in coverage, the system breaks down and patients do not have access to necessary medical care.
Scheduling—Without a fully staffed roster of clinicians, it can be difficult to create a schedule that meets the needs of patients and the organization. Not only does it limit access to care for a community, but it can impact the hospital’s bottom line.
There are strategies to address these challenges such as flexible staffing models and increased utilization of telehealth services, but today we want to look at Advanced Practice Professionals (APPs).
Historically, most locum tenens coverage has been focused solely on physician staffing, but we are seeing more hospitals hire APPs in a locums capacity. Depending on regulations, which vary by state, there are many ways that we’ve seen hospitals integrate APPs into the care process. In many cases, it depends on the amount of M.D. supervision that is required. Telehealth is also a great option to integrate APPs into the care model.
From talking with clients, we have heard that APPs:
“provide immediate availability to patient needs at a lower cost.”
“have proven reliable, capable of managing the work requirements and have sought consultation appropriately.”
“provide holistic, collaborative care.”
“deliver access to more care.”
The results speak for themselves. We have seen healthcare organizations gain the ability to scale and meet the organization’s growing needs while keeping an eye on sustainability. APPs allow this through:
Hospitals can provide care to more patients by integrating APPs into the care model.
By creating partnerships between APPs and M.D.s, there is greater collaboration between care givers, which can result in a better experience for the patient.
With more caregivers and a sustainable care model, hospitals are better able to schedule clinicians to meet patient needs.
Physicians and APPs learn from each other by working together to provide care. The result is better patient care over time.
There has been little to no resistance from patients when seen by an APP instead of an M.D. Across the continuum, staff and patients see the value of integrating APPs into the care model.
With APPs becoming an integral part of the care continuum, it is no surprise that we are seeing expanded utilization at hospitals across the country. In a recent report, nearly 74 percent of surveyed hospitals said they plan to expand APP coverage over the next year. That is a tangible indication of where the industry is headed and how hospitals are increasing access to care through new staffing models.