Healthcare Organizations are very busy with the recent trend of direct physician employment versus relocation assistance and guarantee arrangements that were once the model of choice when recruiting physicians. The executives of these organizations face an ever growing challenge of allocating ever tightening resources, while focusing on the types of activities required to remain competitive in the marketplace.
Even when successful recruitment activities are tested with positive results, the process of onboarding physicians whether employed, guaranteed or relocation assisted must be very well planned, managed and executed to ensure overall organizational success.
The Hurdle of Credentialing
One of the most trying aspects of hiring physicians and other healthcare professionals is credentialing, which involves verifying a provider's background in areas such as education, training, and experience. This process is required for all doctors, including those who are hired as full time employees, those who are brought on as part-time specialists, and those who are brought on as independent contractors. The credentialing process can be tedious and time consuming, but it is required for hospitals, outpatient clinics and practices, as well as third party payers.
If the credentialing process is not handled well, the healthcare organization stands to lose a substantial amount of money due to lost billable services during a period of increased costs directly associated to practice startup, hiring of new employees, new overhead costs including the physician’s salary, relocation and/or incentive expenses. Many times the credentialing process is delayed and the provider becomes frustrated, and he or she might look for other opportunities. In some cases, that other position might be with the health care organization's competition. Alternatively, if the process is handled well, the healthcare organization will have top tier productive physicians, which lends to improved patient outcomes and satisfaction, as well as increased revenue.
Best Practices for Successful Recruitment and Credentialing
1. Target Prospective Providers
When recruiting, it is important to have a profile of the ideal physician for the position. It is important to ascertain whether the physician will be working in a hospital or an outpatient practice and what state, or region of the state, the physician will be working. It is important to remember the credentialing process differs for the type of physician and where they will practice so an approximate timeline of the process should be discussed with the candidate during the recruitment process.
Once a physician is chosen, it is important to establish sequential milestones for the success of the recruiter and the candidate. These milestones need to be met before the components of any incentive package are released to the physician.
Examples of these milestones include the following:
The physician must submit an application package and it must be approved by the recruiter.
The candidate must successfully pass a comprehensive background check.
The health care provider must provide all the information and documentation required for credentialing. The recruiter needs to review the package to ensure that it is complete.
When milestones are reached, bonuses tied to those milestones must be paid fully and quickly to reassure the provider that each step is important.
2. Have a Plan for the Unexpected
Even the most organized onboarding plan can run into roadblocks and hurdles. Successful healthcare organizations have contingency plans in case unforeseen circumstances arise.
Some of the elements of a well thought out contingency plan include:
Know the best possible incentive plan offer that can be made to a prospective candidate. Many times the "perfect doctor" for a position will try to negotiate for an incentive and compensation package that is significantly more than what the health care organization can afford.
Know the department, practice, and location(s) for which the physician is being recruited in order to avoid delays in the credentialing process.
It is important to plan for cumbersome and time-consuming state licensing procedures. Other aspects of the startup can be delayed, such as the physician obtaining professional liability insurance and certification for controlled substances.
Have a plan to offer start up assistance in the event there is a significant delay.
3. Establish a Solid and Open Line of Communication
The cause of many healthcare providers looking for other employment opportunities is that there is a lack of communication between them and the employer. The recruiter, the healthcare organization, and the physician need to build the foundation of a lasting long term relationship during the onboarding process.
Some of the ways to keep clear and open lines of communication include:
Have meetings on a regular basis with the provider to inform them of their progress through the onboarding process.
The recruiter and other administrative staff need to create an atmosphere where the physician feels comfortable asking questions.
Schedule a meeting every week or every other week with the provider, even if there is no news, in order to humanize the process. This will serve as the foundation of a long lasting relationship, as well as developing goodwill with the doctor.
Onboarding providers in a healthcare organization in a streamlined, communicative manner will lead to a strong relationship based on trust, mutual respect, and a sense of loyalty.