6 Steps to Conducting an Effective Physician Needs Analysis

6 Steps to Conducting an Effective Physician Needs Analysis

The Right Methodology Can Improve Your Physician Recruitment Strategy

By Jackie DeGroat

Physician shortage continues to be a concern for hospitals and healthcare systems. To combat this shortage, it is critical to develop a physician recruitment plan that will best meet the needs of the community. Recruiting the right number and types of physicians will grow service lines where expansion is needed and add new service lines where needed services do not already exist. That being said, the recruitment process will take time and effort, but the result will be new physicians who fulfill community needs, succeed in their practice, and stay long term. You can improve your physician recruitment strategy in the following ways:

  • Conduct a physician needs analysis (PNA)
  • Be compliant with Stark Law
  • Align recruitment efforts with your strategic plan
  • Receive input and buy-in from key stakeholders
  • Recruit physicians who will fit your organization’s culture

In this post, we focus on the first initiative: conducting a PNA. A PNA that uses the right methodology will help a hospital understand how many and what types of physicians to recruit to most effectively serve their community. Below, we outline the steps of Stratasan’s PNA methodology.

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Step 1: Define your Stark Service Area

The first step in conducting a PNA is to identify your Stark service area. A Stark service area is the smallest number of contiguous ZIP codes from which the hospital draws 75% of its inpatient volume. By law, a hospital is required to follow the Physician Self-Referral Act (commonly referred to as the “Stark Law”) for physician recruitment. Failure to follow the Stark law could result in penalties, costing the hospital or provider millions of dollars.

 

Step 2: Develop an Accurate Provider Supply List

This step is the most time-consuming part of the process; however, the benefits of having an accurate supply list are worth the extra effort. Often called “detective work,” the process of pulling together provider supply lists requires investigation and research to find out where physicians practice, if they’ve left their market, or if they are even still practicing medicine. Some resources available to retrieve this data include the National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (NPPES) and CMS’s Base Provider Enrollment File. The best approach is to conduct online research and make telephone calls to provider practices. Once the list is complete, it’s likely to already be outdated, as providers are always moving around. Be sure to review this list on a bi-annual basis to avoid starting from scratch in the future.

 

Step 3: Use a Weighted Average of Multiple Demand Models

To determine an accurate demand rate, the first step is to calculate a weighted average of multiple demand models. There are several physician demand models available to use for your physician-per-population rate calculation. Stratasan uses the average of five demand models and weights for each model based on several factors including recency and market payer mix. For example, if a Stark service area has a high percentage of Kaiser plans, the Kaiser demand model will be weighted higher to more accurately reflect the physician needs in that market. Below are the five demand models used by Stratasan:

  1. American Medical Association
  2. Hicks & Glenn
  3. Mature HMO
  4. Kaiser Plans
  5. GMENAC

 

Step 4: Demographically Adjust Your Demand

Once the average demand has been calculated and weighted appropriately, the next step is to demographically adjust the demands by specialty. Most specialties are adjusted based on the 65+ population in your Stark service area since the older population are higher utilizers of healthcare services. Demographically adjusting the demand is important to account for the specific needs of your population. Below are a few other specialties that Stratasan demographically adjusts for:

  1. Allergy/Immunology and Pediatrics: 0-18 years
  2. Obstetrics/Gynecology: Females 15-44 years
  3. Endocrinology: Females 65+ years
  4. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: Females

 

Step 5: Calculate a Potential Retirement Analysis

Stratasan’s PNA analyzes both the current demand and a five year projected demand. There are likely to be quite a few physicians in your market who will retire in the next few years. The physician’s birth date (provided by the hospital) or medical school graduation date (Physician Compare file) is used in the retirement analysis. Based on age or years practicing, selected by the hospital, Stratasan retires physicians out of the future year demand model. Many hospitals choose to retire physicians at 67+ years old or 40+ years practicing.

 

Step 6: Looking Beyond the Numbers

Once your PNA is complete, what’s next? Conducting a PNA is just the beginning and therefore should be followed up with a more extensive qualitative assessment. When reviewing the results of your PNA, it’s important to align your recruitment efforts with your strategic plan. The numbers may say your market needs more dermatology physicians, but if your hospital isn’t looking to grow that service line, that’s a deficit you could look past. To add to your qualitative research, surveying your physicians will identify needs from their perspective, including issues surrounding scheduling, access, and referrals. Involving your physicians will also help you receive buy-in and support from them.

 

The Takeaway

In summary, here are a few reasons why using the right methodology for your PNA is so important:

  1. To ensure you use a Stark service area rather than a normal service area to be Stark Law compliant and avoid costly penalties
  2. To have an accurate count of physicians in your market and a better representation of where you are supply-wise
  3. To calculate a demand rate that is most appropriate for your market, reflecting the specific needs of the demographics in your community
  4. To know who your retiring physicians are to better prepare you for succession planning

Every hospital needs a focused strategy for growth and change, but not every organization is equipped with resources to tackle this process on their own. Stratasan’s PNA outlines the inventory of providers (both physicians and advanced practice providers in a market), calculates a demographically adjusted demand model based on a weighted average of several models, and adjusts for potential provider retirements. We provide the data, insights, and strategic growth expertise that can empower your team to evaluate your market with a new perspective.

For more information on how Stratasan can help improve your physician and provider recruitment strategy, contact Sean Conway and schedule a discovery call today.

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Article by Jackie DeGroat, Manager of Customer Success for Stratasan

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