Greater ex­pec­ta­tions

Keep­ing docs means chang­ing in­cen­tives

Modern Healthcare - - THE WEEK IN HEALTHCARE - Joe Carl­son

Pre­vent­ing costly turnover among med­i­cal prac­tice groups will re­quire hos­pi­tals and physi­cian prac­tices to of­fer more flex­i­ble work­ing ar­range­ments and the kinds of in­cen­tives that were once con­sid­ered perks but are now seen as stan­dard of­fer­ings by job ap­pli­cants, a new study says.

The 2011 Physi­cian Re­ten­tion Sur­vey, cospon­sored by the Amer­i­can Med­i­cal Group As­so­ci­a­tion, Alexan­dria, Va., and health­care re­cruit­ment firm Ce­jka Search in St. Louis, says 74% of group prac­tices ex­pect to hire “more” or “sig­nif­i­cantly more” pri­mary-care and spe­cial­ist physi­cians in the com­ing year.

Group prac­tices with 151 to 500 mem­bers in par­tic­u­lar said they ex­pected to hire many non­spe­cial­ist physi­cians, with 92% of re­spon­dents in those prac­tices plan­ning to hire “more” or “sig­nif­i­cantly more” pri­mary-care doc­tors in the next year, the sur­vey says. Among hos­pi­talowned prac­tices, 57% re­ported plans to hire more pri­mary-care doc­tors and 87% said they will hire more spe­cial­ists in the com­ing year.

The 2011 sur­vey, which is slated to go on sale pub­licly March 12, in­cluded re­sponses from 80 med­i­cal groups that col­lec­tively em­ployed 14,366 physi­cians, in­clud­ing mem­bers and non­mem­bers of the AMGA.

Au­thors of the study found that the grow­ing de­mand for physi­cians and chang­ing de­mo­graph­ics among younger doc­tors are lead­ing to dif­fer­ent ex­pec­ta­tions among can­di­dates.

Li­cense re­newals and con­tin­u­ing med­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion are now be­com­ing “ex­pected” by most job can­di­dates, while of­fer­ing re­ten­tion bonuses, sab­bat­i­cals, loan pre­pay­ments and stipends dur­ing train­ing are con­sid­ered in­cen­tives that can dif­fer­en­ti­ate a po­ten­tial em­ployer, the sur­vey found.

Fur­ther­more, 75% of em­ploy­ers re­ported that they now of­fer a four-day full-time work week as a flex­i­ble work op­tion, and the per­cent­age of doc­tors re­port­ing work­ing part-time has dou­bled since 2005 to 25% of the physi­cian work­force. The study notes that the two fastest-grow­ing seg­ments of the physi­cian pop­u­la­tion—male doc­tors ap­proach­ing re­tire­ment and fe­male physi­cians en­ter­ing the work­force—are also the most likely to look for flex­i­ble sched­ul­ing and part-time work.

At the same time, em­ploy­ers are de­mand­ing dif­fer­ent sets of skills from physi­cians. “Col­lab­o­ra­tion and team­work are sig­nif­i­cantly more im­por­tant to med­i­cal groups and heath sys­tems be­cause care mod­els and per­for­mance mea­sures re­quire it,” AMGA Pres­i­dent and CEO Don­ald Fisher said in a writ­ten state­ment.

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