The current healthcare marketplace has experienced changes and disruptions over the last few years. One of these changes that we have noticed at ABCS RCM is the rise of temporary healthcare professionals.
The use of temporary or locum tenens health professionals has existed for decades in healthcare but is now a growing trend. These health professionals were always considered the “pinch hitters” of the healthcare world. But now the use of temporary clinicians is a permanent part of the healthcare and is a growing trend. The term for this practice is locum tenens, which is a Latin phrase that means “to hold the place of, to substitute for.”
So why would healthcare facilities, clinics and practices use a locum tenens (temporary) health professional?
 Sometimes hospitals, clinics or solo practices need help in filling healthcare provider staffing needs. Staff shortages tend to occur in remote rural locations as well as larger urban healthcare systems.
 Locum tenens doctors are used when healthcare providers go on vacation or take an extended leave of absence.
 Some locations experience seasonal staffing needs. During periods when healthcare needs are high, it is usually more cost-effective to supplement the permanent staff with temporary health professionals.
However, by 2030 many experts are predicting that there will be a shortage of healthcare workers in the United States. Due to this fact, the use of temporary health professionals is expected to rise. This projected shortage of health professionals means that the use of freelance workers in the healthcare industry will become a necessary feature.
Perhaps in anticipating of this growing trend, a growing number of healthcare systems, medical groups, and other healthcare organizations are hiring locum tenens workers in order to fill staffing vacancies.
Addiction counseling professionals, behavioral health practitioners, primary care physicians and emergency room clinicians were some of the specialties with the highest staffing demands. In addition, temporary nurse practitioners and physician assistants are used to full other temporary healthcare positions.
Currently, some industry observers have advocated that the use of locum tenens healthcare workers is part of a larger health professional shortage. Temporary workers are often used to fill staff vacancies until permanent healthcare providers are found, which for many healthcare facilities increases overall staff turnover.
Naturally, health professionals have less attachment to a position in a healthcare group or facility versus a private practice in which they may actually own. This means that staff turnover and the use of temporary health professionals is likely to increase in the coming years.
At Advanced Billing & Consulting Services we are watching these new policies, technologies and demographic trends alter the healthcare industry’s landscape. With the shortage of healthcare professionals, the use of Locum tenens type services is likely here to stay. Especially as the general population of the United States grows older and requires increased access to healthcare.
As a company that specializes in revenue cycle management for a variety of medical specialties, we have found that one of the best ways to successfully navigate a path through new trends and requirements is to be fully informed and up-to-date.
In this way, the changes that are occurring in the healthcare system will not come as a surprise. With this approach, medical practitioners and the organizations that support them, are ready for the challenges of the future.
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Locum Tenens, Temporary Health Professionals