Pros and Cons of Outsourcing Locum Tenens

Caitlin ClementJune 30, 20225 minute read

So, you’re looking to outsource your clinicians? You’re not alone. A recent survey showed that 90% of healthcare executives are exploring cost-saving relationships with third party vendors.

At the end of the day, it is a business. As hospitals, clinics, and telehealth companies like you continue to face provider shortages and want to maximize resources, you may decide to look into outsourcing for a number of reasons. However, it can be a delicate balancing act.

In this blog, we’ll go over the pros and cons of outsourcing your clinicians so you can make the decision that’s right for your digital health company, hospital or clinic.

Pros

In the United States, the healthcare outsourcing industry is expected to reach a value of over $66 billion by 2023, up from about $52.9 billion in 2017. Also, according to Black Book Research, by 2022 hospitals will have to reduce costs by an average of 24%, just to break even. Outsourcing has shown to be a great asset in keeping healthcare organizations going.

Expand the talent pool

If you’re currently recruiting your clinicians in-house, you’ve probably noticed gaps in provider types and coverage. With so many specialties available these days, it’s important to be able to offer your patients the individualized care they need. This requires access to specialists.

As I’m sure you’ve found out, it can take up quite a bit of time and resources recruiting providers in-house. Outsourcing locum tenens can save administrative costs and open the door to more specialized care for your patients. This includes hiring providers who are fluent in other languages in order to care for patients struggling with language barriers.

Additionally, these provider networks often come with a wider variety of payer coverage. Meaning, you can see more patients and while still getting reimbursed for the services you perform.

Higher-quality care

Outsourcing clinicians can lead to higher-quality care and better patient outcomes. By outsourcing in areas you lack providers, it fills the gaps and leads to a better patient experience. The overall goal of any medical professional or facility.

Accessing providers via telehealth services can also expand your hospital or clinic beyond its brick-and-mortar walls and treat patients in their own home. This is extremely helpful to those who live in rural areas, patients with chronic conditions or mobility issues and facilities experiencing provider burnout or shortages.

Competitive edge

Outsourcing can level the playing field for smaller healthcare organizations by offering a wealth of talent that otherwise wouldn’t be possible due to space and budget constraints. Especially for those located in rural communities.

As the healthcare industry continues to grow and fluctuate with its needs, outsourcing provides the flexibility organizations require to bend with it and stay competitive. As a result, providers are able to gain valuable scalability working as a locum that would otherwise stagnate.

Lastly, not only can outsourcing cut costs for organizations when implemented correctly, it incentivises providers by advertising another revenue stream. This, in turn, benefits patients who are then able to access a provider more easily.

Greater cost efficiencies

Who wouldn’t want to allocate their money and resources more efficiently? Outsourcing to third-party vendors and independent contractors can free up internal staff at hospitals and clinics to focus on growing service lines, training and talent development. This is especially important in more rural areas where more than 100 hospitals have closed since 2013. Hitting a record high in 2020.

For those in virtual care, it can make it easier and faster to scale provider services while still giving your patients quality, on-demand care from anywhere. Similar to hospitals and clinics, outsourced provider networks can free up resources internally. Allowing these companies to focus on implementing important risk management systems and compliance strategies.

Cons

Clinician outsourcing isn’t the panacea to all the healthcare systems’ problems. As with any investment, there are risks involved. It’s up to the organizations and their providers to do the work up front in order to maximize its benefits. Here are a few things to keep in mind when outsourcing.

1099 Independent Contractors

Just as independent contractors can limit the liability your medical organization incurs, you cannot legally ask them to work a fixed schedule or specific hours. As a result, it can be more difficult to plan out coverage.

Additionally, they make more per visit or per hour than being directly employed with your organization. This could end up costing a healthcare company more than recruiting their own W-2 providers if not properly managed.

Data and Privacy

Protecting patient data is another reason why it’s so important to take the time to set partnership/vendor expectations and build a clear implementation plan beforehand.

At the start of the telehealth boom a few years ago, concerns regarding patient privacy and data were top of mind—and for good reason. Patient privacy is at the core of the healthcare system and fiercely protected through HIPAA. Additionally, total interoperability, the ability for computers and software systems to exchange and make sense of data, is not quite there yet.

This means, it’s up to the hospitals, clinics and telehealth companies to put systems in place that communicate effectively and efficiently with each other to ensure the protection of their patients’ data. The good news—many healthcare and telehealth companies do it successfully everyday. All it takes is a little extra planning in the beginning to save you more time and money down the road.

Potential for miscommunication

Another result of poor planning and implementation when outsourcing is the increased likelihood of miscommunication between all parties involved. As stated above, this could lead to potential data breaches if not managed correctly. However, it may also negatively affect the quality of care given to the patients seen by your providers.

There needs to be a clear guideline and set of procedures put in place from the beginning. If providers are unsure of next steps like, where to submit their electronic health records (EHRs), who to report to, or if proper provider credentialing isn’t administered, it’s going to be the patients that suffer.

What’s great is this can all be avoided by taking the time to really build out a plan and set expectations across the organization and with your vendors.

Powering clinician networks

As with any investment, there are risks involved. But the expansive benefits of outsourcing clinicians are why so many healthcare organizations have decided to invest in it already. Its innovative solution brings providers closer to patients and gives healthcare organizations the resources they need to offer individualized patient care.

Speaking of innovative healthcare solutions, we’d like to take a moment to introduce OpenLoop! We provide intuitive telehealth technology customized for your business and your patients. Our provider staffing services and clinician network are NCQA certified, and cover over 300 million patient lives.

Interested in what we can do for your organization? Get in touch here!

Our full suite of whitelabeled Telehealth Support Services include:

  • Regulatory & Legal

  • Provider Staffing

  • Clinician Licensing

  • Technology Platform

  • Practice Management

  • Payer Coverage & RCM

Media Contact

Jess Greiner Director, Marketing
jess@openloophealth.com
641.780.1114