The Affordable Care Act, signed into law almost five years ago, continues to have a monumental impact on the business of healthcare. As millions of previously-uninsured people enter the healthcare system, some for the first time in their lives, this influx of patients continues to affect much more than demand for doctors. From large healthcare systems buying up private practices to over-extended physicians in a variety of specialties, the state of healthcare in 2015 will certainly be one of transition—and evolution. What does this mean for the healthcare recruiting industry? Below are five healthcare recruiting trends to look for in the year ahead.
1. Data-driven Decisions
In Jan 2013 McKinsey & Company, in association with the U.S. Health System Business Technology Office, published a report titled The Big Data Revolution in Healthcare: Accelerating Value and Innovation. In it, they discuss how big data will rule all healthcare metrics. 2015 will be the year this comprehensively comes to pass. Escalating costs and shifting trends in provider reimbursement will combine with regulations that affect healthcare organizations’ bottom lines (such as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s—ARRA—meaningful use measures), to drive this demand for specific metrics. At a recent meeting of the Independent Physician Association of America (TIPAAA), IPAs reported their physicians in Accountable Care Organization models are beginning to acknowledge practicing better medicine based on data availability and comprehensive patient follow-up. In 2015, healthcare systems will need to record and retrieve data that accurately tell the story not only of physician productivity, but also of patient health outcomes and satisfaction; data will be the basis for all care management and business decisions.
2. Compensation Increases Depend On Patient Outcomes
With this insatiable desire for data comes new ways in which to use it. Data revealing physician productivity, patient health status and patient satisfaction will be inextricably tied to provider compensation. The “fee for service” model will be replaced with the “fee for providing value and improving population health” model. In fact, in 2013, the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) included patient satisfaction scores as part of their annual compensation report for the first time. In 2015, healthcare providers will be incentivized for positive patient outcomes, as opposed to the quantity of the patients they see.
3. Increasing Specialization of Advanced Practice Providers (APPs)
As demand for physicians has increased, so, too, has the demand for advanced practitioners, including nurse practitioners and physician assistants. In order to increase patient care standards and productivity, healthcare organizations must supplement physician practices with APPs. 2015 will see a surge in recruitment activities for these providers, as well as the need for increased specialization of these healthcare professionals. Much like physicians choose a specialty, advanced practitioners with specific surgical or subspecialty expertise will be highly sought after—and will be able to command a higher salary.
4. Frontline Physician Recruitment Incentives Will Get Creative
According to a September 2014 article in Medical Economics, a recent workforce survey from the Physicians Foundation revealed that 81% of physicians described themselves as over-extended or “at full capacity.” With physicians feeling overworked, a finite number of primary care and other frontline physicians entering the workforce, and an increasing number of patients entering the healthcare system (disproportionately older or sicker because they have not had access to healthcare before), this “perfect storm” is only gathering steam. Recruiters and healthcare organizations will collaborate to create innovative incentives for frontline providers like family physicians, internists, pediatricians, cardiologists, oncologists, neurologists, orthopedists, and psychiatrists. These incentives will continue to extend beyond compensation to student loan repayment, stipends, work-life balance offerings, retention bonuses and more. 2015 will be the year of innovation in recruitment as organizations get creative to drive talent to their facilities.
5. Physicians Will Continue Seeking Employment within a Healthcare System
The Physicians Foundation survey mentioned above found that the hospital employment model is making large and swift inroads into private practice. In 2008, 62% of respondents were private practice owners. This year, only 35% of the respondents remained independent practice owners. In addition, according to The American Hospital Association, the number of doctors on hospital payrolls has increased one third since 2000. Being employed by a hospital provides a certain level of protection—and a significant decrease in overhead costs. Currently, hospital/health system employment is the number one career choice among medical residents in their final year of training. Hospitals will continue to acquire primary care practices and specialist groups as it makes sense for implementing integrated care models and achieving their business goals in 2015.
It has been almost five years since The Affordable Care Act was signed into law and the healthcare industry is still trying to find its footing in a new landscape. As a result, healthcare systems, academic institutions, healthcare providers, and healthcare recruiters are continually challenged to meet ever-changing needs. Although being fully staffed to meet patient demands will stay top priority in 2015, deriving data to connect physician processes to patient health outcomes will become the new standard for evaluation. As a more comprehensively integrated system focused on population health begins to dominate, recruitment initiatives, compensation packages, and support staff qualifications will continue to evolve.