5 Components of Developing a Medical Staff Plan

Developing and implementing a successful medical staff plan is no easy feat. Physician turnover is at an all-time high, and 36 percent of physician groups expect the physician retirement rate to increase this year, according to a physician retention survey by Cejka Search and the American Medical Group Association. Additionally, the growing national physician shortage increases the competition for physicians, making implementing a medical staff plan more difficult.

Beyond dealing with unstable physician bases, hospitals and health systems must also keep Stark Law and other physician recruitment regulation laws in mind when considering bringing in new physicians as part of a medical staff plan.

All of these factors make medical staff planning difficult for many hospitals and health systems. "Competing for limited physician resources can be challenging — especially for community and rural hospitals. Hospital leaders need to be strategic in their recruitment approach," Cindy Matthews, executive vice president of marketing and strategic development for Community Hospital Corp., said in a recent whitepaper.

In the whitepaper, Community Hospital Consulting, the management and consulting arm of Community Hospital Corp., shares the steps that its team goes through when developing a medical staff plan for a client hospital. The steps are as follows:

•    Analyze service areas. First, organizations should identify their primary and secondary service areas based on patient origin and compare it to their traditional service area. Hospitals should also review their strategic plans for future service line growth in the service areas.

•    Analyze market area. This step should include analysis of demographics, such as the current and projected patient size, payor mix and health of the community. Additionally, hospitals should determine their market share in the primary service area.

•    Evaluate medical staff make-up. In this step, hospitals and health systems should make note of any physicians nearing retirement or who may cut down on patient volume in the near future. Additionally, patient access issues, such as long wait times, should be evaluated here as well. Of course, hospitals should also gather the basic facts about their physicians, like specialty, age, gender, office location and board certifications.

•    Get input from current physicians. The hospital's current physicians are out in the field and can give valuable insight that most hospital executives wouldn't have on their own. CHC conducts one-on-one interviews with a representative sample of a facility's primary care physicians and specialists. Surveys should also be sent out to the medical staff to get their point of view. Involving the medical staff in the planning portion also helps hospitals gain medical staff buy-in when it comes time to implement the new strategy.

•    Analyze physician demand. This step involves calling physician practices in the area to confirm FTE counts and any accessibility issues. CHC uses a combination of benchmark studies to compare data and then calculates physician-to-population ratios, providing a picture of physician demand in the service area.

By completing the above analyses laid out in CHC's whitepaper, hospitals and health systems can determine how many physicians are needed by specialty, as well as uncover any geographical gaps in physician coverage in a service area. A facility can also plan for the future of its medical staff to ensure stability moving forward.

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