The global COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on all areas the healthcare field. Naturally, the pandemic has also heavily affected locum tenens providers as hospitals have been faced with a challenging number of critically ill patients. With COVID-19’s massive impact on the locum tenens industry, there were many lessons in the healthcare industry took away from 2020. Here are some of the issues that surfaced during the pandemic and how they are further being addressed moving into the new year:
Shifts in locum tenens demand. The COVID-19 pandemic led to a dramatic need for locum tenens physicians who specialize in the areas of infectious disease, pulmonary care, hospitalists, emergency medicine and critical care. Additionally, many locum tenens providers have had assignments canceled or have been asked to consider assignments outside their main specialties because of restrictions on elective surgeries and procedures. As if these major shifts in demand weren’t impactful enough, some locum tenens providers chose to cancel their assignments for a variety of health and safety reasons regarding themselves or their family members. In response to the labor shortage, many states loosened licensure requirements for locum tenens providers, as well as providing greater incentives for locum tenens physicians, CRNAs, NPs, and PAs to help provide critical care.
Rise of telemedicine. As virtual healthcare became a necessity in reducing the spread of coronavirus, many healthcare providers were expected to adapt to treating patients via telemedicine channels, including locum tenens providers. This quickly led to the need for facilities to implement high quality, reliable technology that allowed physicians to deliver care through virtual means efficiently. With telemedicine now a mainstream form of care throughout the country, there have been ongoing changes to Medicare in terms of how telehealth is reimbursed. It’s projected that physicians who are comfortable with the telemedicine model will have many locum tenens opportunities available to them in 2021.
Extreme physician burnout. Many frontline healthcare workers, including locum tenens physicians, have felt the effects of burnout after taking on extra shifts and working far beyond their typical schedules in order to help with the pandemic. To combat burnout, healthcare facilities must pay closer attention to the work environment, technology platforms, and workload providers are facing. Assessing factors related to employee stress will ensure better protocols are established in staff management, especially as patient care demands continue to rise with peaks in coronavirus activity.
The healthcare industry will undoubtedly continue to face new challenges; however, taking into account the lessons learned in 2020 will allow facilities to more effectively address future issues and better serve patients. As your facility adjusts to more changes raised by the pandemic, bringing on board the best locum tenens providers to bolster your staff will be critical.
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