The Basics of Medical Staff Planning

By: curativetalent

Healthcare executives of all levels and experience at some point will be involved in the recruitment of clinicians to either their hospital or practice. Regardless of where you sit in the organization, understanding the basics of medical staff planning will help you make informed decisions about hiring and staffing needs.

A medical staff plan creates a data-driven strategy to achieve access to quality care for the patients in a community. In other words, it determines the right amount of clinicians needed to administer health services to patients and reach organizational goals. It also ensures that the organization is meeting regulatory guidelines and can show true justification for budgetary reasons.

Before deciding how many hires are needed, there are several research and intelligence gathering steps that should be completed. First there are basic demographic data that needs to be collected. We'll call this the quantitative research. This includes defining your draw area, mapping the migration of patients, the age of the patient population and current medical staff, physician to population ratios, and current patient activity within your organization. These data points require careful analysis though. For example, although your population to physician ratio may seem acceptable, when you average in wait times you might find a different result. Another data point that might get overlooked is the actual length of time it takes to hire certain clinicians. If your medical staff planning shows you need five family physicians, include in your planning the average time to fill for this type of physician (It's 150 days. There, saved you some research.)

A good medical staff plan will take into account the feedback and experience of all engaged parties. This qualitative research involves soliciting opinions from both your medical staff and community. If you don't involve your medical staff from the beginning, it will be harder to gain their trust and participation during the actual recruitment process. For your medical staff, it's always a great idea to ask your Emergency Room team first - they'll have a hands-on account of the high and low traffic times in your facility. You'll want to survey the medical practices in your referral lines, see if practices in your community are accepting new patients or not and also include a survey of the patients themselves. Depending on the methodologies used here, you might consider outsourcing this portion of your research to get an unbiased result, and frankly not deal with the logistics of surveys. Now remember, when we talked about time to fill earlier? Those recruitment process details are also affected by the appeal of your town, proximity to major attractions, and other qualitative factors that will play a part in recruiting providers.

It's important to understand that the main goal of medical staff planning is to create a strategy that leads the growth of your organization. Once the information is collected, it is up to the recruitment teams to draft a plan and encourage re-evaluation every few years.  Talent- your people and staff - is the key to success in any industry and requires cooperation between all levels of leadership. In today's competitive marketplace, those that adopt these strategic planning approaches will be able to maximize revenue while improving patient outcomes.

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