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How to Effectively Utilize a Locum Tenens Physician

How to Effectively Utilize a Locum Tenens Physician

Join us over the next several weeks as guest blogger, Arlene Macellaro, goes on a deep-dive exploration of tips and techniques to make the use of locum tenens providers a planned and effective solution for you and your organization. 

With over 25 years as a hospital and health system director for physician recruitment, I’ve handled my share of locum tenens physicians. Actually, for years I never used them; never needed to. Then I was forced to become somewhat of a connoisseur when doctor shortages started to become an issue. Hospitals were suddenly finding longer recruitment lead times with shorter notifications from departing providers.

What do you do when you have a physician leave a full practice and only 90 days’ notice? Typically, there’s just no way you can recruit a proper replacement in 90 days. Though you may have some capacity for other providers picking up coverage, the likelihood that you’ll be able to absorb the majority of patients is slim. Even worse, if it is a hospital based specialty, you’re now exposed in departments like the ED, ICU, STEMI, etc.

If used expeditiously, locum tenens can be an effective and cost efficient way to provide patient care and establish a placeholder while you are recruiting for a permanent replacement. On the flip side, when used improperly or without a full understanding of the complexities of onboarding and billing, it can turn into a stressful and resource-intensive expedition.

How savvy you are in the proper onboarding, licensure, medical staffing procedures, and billing of locum providers will make all the difference. In order to gauge your understanding and remain proactive in the game, here are a few points to ponder.  

  1.  Does your state have interim license or reciprocal license?
    1. How long does a license application take? (Does it vary at different times of the year?)
  2. What is the DEA application process?
    1. Or transfer of DEA if applicable.
  3. What is the general medical staff credentialing time?
    1. Does your facility have locum status and abbreviated (or emergency) privileges?
  4. Is this provider going to be eligible to bill under a Q5 or Q6 modifier?
    1. If not, what items are needed to PAR with payers, and what is the time frame?
  5. Will the provider work at multiple facilities? (Important to know for billing and credentialing purposes.)
    1. You may need to request additional privileges even after the provider is credentialed.
    2. You will have to make separate applications to each payer if you send the provider to multiple sites.
  6. Who is responsible for scheduling, call, and timesheet approvals?
  7. What items can your professional staffing agency help you with?

During the upcoming series, we will discuss and break down these topics in-depth, so please stay tuned!

Part 1:  What to explore and pitfalls for licensure of the locum tenens provider.

Part 2:  DEA transfer vs. new application. When are you better to apply for a new one?

Part 3:  Medical Staff privileging. The process you need to know before you start.

Part 4:  Billing with modifiers vs. full financial credentialing (Q5, Q6, and reciprocal.)

Part 5: Delineation of privileges and multi-site/multi-specialty credentialing.

Part 6:  Scheduling and timekeeping (setting expectations and feedback apparatus.)

Arlene Macellaro is the VP of Business Development and Client Relations for All Star Recruiting. She can be reached at AMacellaro@allstarrecruiting.com.

"When I was initially contacted by All Star, I had already been approached by several companies and presented to quite a few opportunities so I didn't think I needed to speak to another firm. What I didn't count on was All Star having another eight positions which other agencies didn't have. Now I'm happily working at one of the options they offered. Thanks!"
- Bal A., M.D.

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