Locum Tenens ROI

 

ROI on Choosing to Work with Locum Tenens Physicians

Retiring physicians, changing demographics and work-life balance are just some of the factors that have led to the current physician shortage.  The solution for many health care facilities has come from working with locum tenens physicians. 

Why choose a locum tenens physicians for short-term and long-term staffing voids?
While we all understand that locum tenens physicians provide continuity of care, the impact of their contributions is often overshadowed by the perceived cost, rather than their impact on revenue.  Locum tenens physicians treat patients who might otherwise go unseen or go elsewhere for treatment.   Locum tenens physicians keep the revenue streams consistent during periods of turnover, vacation, growth and leave.  

Asking current staff to pick up the slack of a departing physician can lead to burn out.  For every healthcare administrator that thinks locum tenens physicians are too expensive, many others have been pleased to discover that these physicians more than pay for themselves in productivity, provider and facility revenue, morale, efficiencies, and patient satisfaction.  All measures of successful coverage.

Locum tenens physicians are paid on a per diem basis.  A healthcare facility balances the daily rate paid to the locum tenens physicians with the revenues that physician is likely to generate while on assignment at their facility.  For example, the daily rate for a family practitioner is in the $700–$865 range.

Here are some examples:

Specialty
Estimated Daily
Cost of Locum Tenens
Physicians
Estimated Daily
Professional Fees
Collected*
Estimated Daily Net
(Excluding other Rev**)

Family Practice

$865

$1,535

$670

Internal Medicine

$905

$1,500

$595

Orthopedic Surgery

$1,920

$2,450

$530

General Surgery

$1,740

$2,325

$585

OB/GYN

$1,825

$2,450

$625


*Source: ROI Article – Locum Tenens: A Smart Investment, MGMA Physician Compensation and Production Survey: 2008 report based on 2007 data.
**Excludes inpatient and outpatient revenue that a locum tenens physicians generates by ordering tests, therapeutic services, performing surgeries, delivering babies and tending to hospitalized patients.

Maximizing Your ROI on Locum Tenens Physicians
  1. Plan Ahead.   The more time a health care administrator gives Onyx M.D. to fill any upcoming staffing shortages, the more likely we will be able to provide the right physician for coverage.

  2. Provide Orientation.  Make sure the locum tenens physicians understands the operation to ensure they know their way around so they can spend more time providing patient care, rather than being frustrated by the new process at the facility.

  3. Schedule Appropriately.  Make sure you put your locum tenens on the schedule when you need them the most and they can make the greatest impact on billable services.

  4. Know How To Bill.  As you may know, “locum tenens” is a Latin term which means “holding one’s place.”   There are certain conditions that allow a facility to bill using the permanent doctor's provider numbers and other conditions where the locum tenens physician is able to bill for the service rendered.

    Holding One’s Place - Billing Using Permanent Doctors Provider Numbers
    In most cases the health care facility can bill for the locum tenens services using the permanent doctor’s provider numbers if the locum tenens physician is filling in for a physician that is on vacation, sabbatical or leave for up to 60 continuous days.   It is important to note that it is 60 continuous days.  The presumption is that the absent physician will return.   Your billing director will want to verify this with individual private payors.

    Not Holding One’s Place - Billing Using Locum Tenens Provider Numbers
    If a locum tenens physician is covering while a health care facility is in a recruiting time or covering peaks of patient volume, the physician is not really “holding one’s place” and it is therefore necessary they become a credentialed physician with the specific payor mix.

    Work closely with your billing agency to determine the proper coding methodology, bill retroactively, and otherwise make sure that locum tenens physician services are reimbursed by third party payors.   Correct billing will make the difference between profit and loss when using  temporary physicians