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    Brent Pendergast
    Brent Pendergast, PT, MBA, FACMPE

    Significant shortages of primary care physicians (PCPs) available in the job market is a growing concern for hospital executives.  According to an MGMA Insight article, “the population growth rate is expected to be 11% by 2030, at which time half of the US population will be 65 or older.  On top of that, 33% of active physicians today will reach retirement age in the coming decade” (Green, 2018).  This is at a time when larger health systems and hospitals are moving to employ more physicians.  Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) and other value-based models are on the rise, both of which require a sizeable primary care base to manage the large patient populations under global budget payments tied to value and/or quality (LaPointe, 2019).  PCPs generate substantial downstream revenue for hospitals based on their referral patterns for direct tests, therapies, specialist consults, surgeries, and other medical services.  They are key drivers of the medical decision making process, thus crucial elements of the team. 

    Competition for this small pool of physicians is fierce, necessitating the need to have a solid strategy to not only recruit top talent, but retain it as well.  Determining the needs of the organization and each individual practice location is imperative, so appropriate goals are set and the right practitioners chosen to help meet them.  The recruiting process is expensive and time consuming, necessitating efficiency, which can help reduce time to hire and bring candidates that are more qualified to the table.  Physician turnover is inevitable; therefore, succession planning should also be an integral part of the program.

    According to the Advisory Board, in 2018, physician employment overtook physician practice ownership for the first time.  Nurse practitioners and physician assistants have helped provide improved patient care access.  Patients expecting to be seen by a physician will likely experience longer waiting periods.  Advanced practitioners may accommodate these appointments faster.  Bridging that gap only helps improve patient care and satisfaction further.  We must recognize that the healthcare team, which includes a strong physician base of leadership, focused on quality patient care and team management, will further strengthen the patient experience. 

    This business plan addresses the need to find, recruit, and retain PCPs for University Health System, in order to meet the increased demands of an aging population, improve access to care, meet patient expectations and economies of scale.  With an organizational goal to increase the number of PCPs substantially in the workforce the next 5 years, it is imperative to develop an effective recruitment and retention strategy.  Selecting and placing the right candidates will be critical.  Generous employment packages for these candidates must be offered in order to attract and retain them.  The goal will be to create both a recruitment and retention program that sustains itself through partnership, collaboration and engagement of the entire team.

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