4 Tips to Successful Physician Recruitment and Retention Under Healthcare Reform

The ever-growing physician shortage is only one reason that competition for physicians will increase in the coming years. Craig Hunter, senior vice president of Coker Group, explained in a recent webinar that there are several factors at play that will lower the supply and increase the demand for physicians, and will therefore make physician recruitment increasingly important moving forward.

Elements of healthcare reform will increase patient volume to all physicians and hospitals because of the influx of the newly insured under reform. Accountable care organizations and patient-centered medical homes will increase the work load of primary care physicians who participate in the programs, thus increasing the need for more primary care physicians. Also, certain specialties will be in greater demand because of the ACO's focus on managing high-cost chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and heart failure.

In addition to the increased demand for and strain on physicians, the nation is facing a physician shortage that will put them in short supply. Therefore, physicians will have a wide spectrum of employment options to choose from as hospitals compete for the existing physicians. Together, these forces will make having a competitive physician recruitment process very important for hospitals.

"My recommendation would be to find the right physicians, hire them and keep them happy," Mr. Hunter said in the webinar.

Mr. Hunter gave four tips on how to recruit and keep the right physicians.

1. Develop packages that meet physicians' desire for a good combination of location, compensation and lifestyle. Mr. Hunter said that work-life balance is one of the most important factors to physicians who are considering employment. He warned that physicians will be unhappy if work hours and compensation are not clearly communicated, and it could result in their resignation.

2. Recruit physicians that fit your culture. In order to retain physicians in the organization, it is extremely important to first recruit physicians that will fit the organization's culture.

To ensure a fit, Mr. Hunter suggested hospital executives on the hiring team ask questions that relate to the vision and culture of the organization and that require a well thought-out answer from the applicant. Executives should also conduct interviews with the applicant's friends, family and peers to get a feel for their lifestyles and interests. Finally, hospitals looking to hire physicians should use personality assessment through a professional organization to better understand them and how they would fit into the hospital's culture.

3. Be open and communicate. Mr. Hunter said that openness is a key characteristic wanted by physicians looking to be employed. He said that communication is critical to recruiting and retaining physicians, and hospitals should involve physicians, when appropriate, in decision-making processes. For example, Mr. Hunter said he had seen a situation where no employed or affiliated physicians were consulted about what EMR system they wanted for the hospital. "You should get physician input on those factors, and that will impact future success," Mr. Hunter said.

4. Spend time with physicians after employment. "Hospitals cannot afford to lose quality doctors [right now]," Mr. Hunter said. That means hospitals need to be proactive and spend time one-on-one with their physicians to understand and meet their needs and keep them happy, so they do not start looking elsewhere for employment.

More Articles on Physician Recruitment:

5 Tips For Developing a Lasting Medical Staff Plan
Top 10 Reasons Physicians Are Relocating in 2012
Protecting and Preserving the Community Hospital — Immediate Actions for Future Success

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