Developing an integrated approach to workforce planning and physician network design

Nearly all health systems conduct regular workforce planning assessments, which are traditionally used to determine physician needs in the community and justify recruitment or private practice assistance in support of several regulatory requirements.

All too often, however, the rich data and insight gleaned from these assessments stops short of being utilized to its full potential. A robust physician network—arguably a health system’s most valuable noncapital asset—cannot be established solely for the purpose of meeting a need determined by a population demand ratio. When regulatory community need is the only input driving recruitment activities, systems may find themselves under- or overrecruiting for their patient population.

Instead, the information can and should be considered throughout a health system’s continuous physician network development process, providing quantitative support to:

  • Expand new and existing clinical services
  • Develop new entry portals for patients to access the health system
  • Serve as the foundation that enables systems to achieve true provider network optimizaiton

Organizations that approach workforce planning with network optimization in mind are able to proactively develop a provider enterprise for the future, leading to thoughtful, well-timed, and resource-efficient programmatic growth. Failing to do so may result in lost opportunities for alignment with independent practices, gaps in the overall provider workforce, or ill-timed investments that don’t meet the strategic needs of the provider network.

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