Turnover in a hospital or physician practice setting is inevitable, but within the healthcare industry, continuity and consistency are the hallmarks of an efficient, effective service line – the foundation of all successful specialty programs. With continual changes in reimbursement, regulations, and an increasingly competitive landscape for talent, losing key leadership with any specialty area can have a negative impact on the strategic and operational functions. Such a loss also affects productivity and care delivery in both the short and long term.
According to a 2019 annual survey by the American College of Healthcare Executives, personnel shortages rank as one of the top three issues facing hospitals today. And among those citing these critical shortages, 55% noted physician specialists as a chief concern. As demand increases and the pool of talent shrinks (for both administrative and physician talent), the industry is facing a very challenging situation, only made worse by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Successful organizations must also overcome the challenges of declining reimbursement against the rising cost of personnel recruitment and retention efforts. When demand is high for specialty talent, the cost of recruitment and retention increases as well. And unfortunately, Corazon believes that these shortages will continue to increase, particularly in rural areas, due to the aging baby boomers, aging workforce, and a decrease in the number of new graduates. Frankly, healthcare facilities will not be in a position to manage the supply vs. demand when it comes to high caliber talent within clinical specialties like cardiovascular, neuroscience, and spine.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for healthcare administrators is growing at rapid rate as well…and it’s also particularly true as it relates to the most profitable specialties mentioned above. Organizations operating with gaps in service line leadership or those without a leader in place are certain to feel the effects. Much like a gap in physician talent impacts a service line, leadership vacancies are impactful as well. Without strong leadership at the helm of a program, risks emerge – lack of strategic direction, tactical oversight, and motivational leadership – which can all negatively affect clinical, operational, and financial performance.
To avoid such risks, organizations should work to fill temporary talent gaps by utilizing interim management services. Corazon believes this trend of mismatched need and hiring growth will continue at least through the next few years, in 2021 especially, as hospitals try to retain skilled clinical professionals as long as they can, and find ways to recover from the economic and other challenges brought on by pandemic impacts across all areas of the country. But, as more demands are being placed on healthcare professionals to cut costs, ensure quality, and meet the other standards of program excellence, strong leaders remain essential for continued success and viability.
Hiring an Interim Manager is a strategy that can reduce these risks, with the benefits far outweighing the additional upfront costs. In addition to the well-known values of interim employees (such as experience, rapid availability, and a strong network of resources), there are many benefits that should also be considered. Two key benefits include:
- Increasing the Depth and Skillset of the Current Employee Roster – Cath Labs and Nursing Units have successfully used this technique with traveling staff for a number of years. Transitioning this to a management level affords an “on-the-job” training program for staff members who are interested in moving to the next step of their career, but who do not have a mentor to help them along the way. Many people incorrectly believe that a successful interim placement is one that ends in permanent employment. This skewed belief eliminates the large segment of the interim management pool who want to remain interim, yet have a great deal to offer an organization on a short term-basis, including grooming someone to permanently fill the position that they temporarily will hold.
- Improving Financial Forecasts – Interim staff are treated differently on financial reports, which can have a positive impact on an organization’s fiscal outlook. Commitment to full-time employees is a costly venture, beyond direct salary; there is payroll tax, paid time off (which should be reflected as debt), healthcare and other insurances, physical plant space and equipment, unemployment and any malpractice insurance, and more. Many of these costs transfer to a shorter-term operational expense when interim staff is considered.
Further benefits associated with utilizing interim management are:
- Quicker Placements based on using a pool of qualified and experienced professionals ready to be placed for temporary work.
- Better Quality Performance of the Program as a result of the Interim’s level of experience.
- Autonomy and Objectivity for the Interim, which allows for fresh perspective and new, innovative ideas to be brought to a program.
- And more.
Interim Professionals are truly a value proposition that yields positive results, especially today and into the coming year. To learn more about how Corazon can bring a qualified interim professional or locum physician to your hospital, and the varied benefits that can result, particularly for your organization’s unique situation, call 412-364-8200.