A Straightforward Approach to Avoiding Patient Loss

A Straightforward Approach to Avoiding Patient Loss

Why Having the Right Number of Physicians is Key to Retaining Your Patients

By Lee Ann Lambdin and Jackie DeGroat

Your facility’s growth or decline in market share is closely tied to the physicians who are available in your service area. If you don’t have the right number of physicians to support the number of patients in your service area, they will likely go elsewhere to receive care.

iStock-505269482.jpgAccording to the Association of American Medical Colleges, patient demand is surpassing physician supply. In other words, there are more patients needing care than there are physicians practicing medicine. Hospitals that conduct a community physician and provider demand analysis, sometimes known as a Physician Demand Estimator or Medical Staff Development Planning, will be armed with the right intelligence to effectively recruit for the appropriate specialists needed in their service area.

A physician demand analysis can be best understood when broken down into two parts: supply and demand.

  1. The first part involves developing an accurate supply list of physicians in your service area. This is the most time-consuming part of the process, but the benefits of getting a clear picture of the physicians in your market will make it time well spent. The best way to pull together your supply list is to use a variety of sources and cross reference. Sources may include the National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (NPPES), the Base Provider Enrollment File from CMS, and a supply list provided by your hospital’s medical staff department. Also, all physicians in the service area need to be included, not only the ones that practice at your facility. It’s important to remember that by the time you finish your list, it’s likely to be outdated due to physicians moving and retiring. With this in mind, be sure to keep your list updated annually, possibly bi-annually, in an effort to avoid facing a fully outdated physician list that will need to be rebuilt from scratch. 
  2. The second part requires you to define the likely patient demand. The demand for physicians are made based on projected assumptions of health care services and delivery. Changing demographics, health care reform, and increased use of advanced practice providers are just a few things to consider. At this point, you have to decide which model(s) to use for your physician-per-population rate calculation. Some models include: the American Medical Association (AMA), a Mature HMO, Kaiser Plans, and Hicks and Glenn. Since there are quite a few sources to choose from, it is best to calculate a weighted average rate from multiple models.

Once you have calculated your supply and demand, you will be able to estimate your surpluses and deficits simply by subtracting the demand from the supply. This intelligence will tell you where the need is in your community and will allow you to recruit for the right specialists.

Filling in the holes will be a win-win for both your hospital and the community you serve. Your hospital will increase its volume and accessibility to health care services will be more readily available to patients. Additionally, this information is useful for strategic growth planning, as it it will serve as a guideline for future physician recruitment efforts.

For more information on conducting a community physician and provider demand analysis or for help in completing one for your service area, set up a conversation with Sean Conway today. Sean will demonstrate how a physician demand analysis will help you more effectively project physician surpluses and deficits and plan for future strategic growth.

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Article by Lee Ann Lambdin, SVP of Healthcare Strategy, and Jackie DeGroat, Physician Relations Advisor for Stratasan

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