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Help Wanted: Bilingual Physician Leaders (EMR Expertise Desired)

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One could argue that 50 years ago, “physician employment” mainly consisted of a newly-minted doctor fresh out of residency, hanging his or her shingle in their hometown and seeing patients (whether as a solo practitioner or as part of a group). Terms such as “hospitalist” weren’t used, and the idea of a physician rising to the rank of a hospital CEO seemed a remote possibility at best.

Today, of course, the landscape is much different. As the 2015 Healthcare Talent Acquisition Environmental Scan notes in its section on physician employment, “Hospitals are seeking out physicians as a way to increase coordination and manage costs.” To put it simply, this trend in physician employment is brought to you by the letters A,C and O.

If you want further information on why physician employment is becoming a bigger focus for hospitals, check out a special report contained in the 2015 Edition of the AHA Hospital Statistics, authored by Health Research & Educational Trust Director of Research Kevin Kenward, Ph.D. (Some of the findings were reported in a January “Diggin’ The Data” blog). According to the Healthcare Talent Acquisition Environmental Scan, 29 percent of hospitals say they are participating in a joint venture with physicians or physician groups, a number that is more than double what it was in 2004. In addition:

  • Only 10 percent of senior hospital leaders are physicians.
  • 70 percent of hospitals now have at least one hospitalist practice. According to the Society of Hospital Medicine website, a hospitalist is, “A physician who specializes in the practice of hospital medicine.” This includes (according to the website) expertise in quality and process improvement techniques, efficient use of healthcare and hospital resources and collaboration with those who care for hospitalized patients.

On that first bullet point, here’s what the Healthcare Talent Acquisition Environmental Scan says about physician leaders:

“Soon, having physician leaders will not only be important, but a mandate. It’s critical that hospitals develop a new wave of physician leaders as business partners on the journey to becoming a successful accountable care organization.”

So, what does the employment landscape look like for physicians? Well, according to the scan:

  • There are 754,000 physician job candidates in the U.S.
  • 2 percent of total healthcare job candidates are physicians
  • There are 20 candidates per opening, and it takes on average 73 days before a job opening is filled
  • Among the top in-demand skills for physicians are: Critical care, pediatrics, proficiency with patient electronic medical records, behavioral health, and being bilingual.

In closing, here is an astounding statistic to ponder: physician employment by hospitals has risen by more than 54 percent since 2000. More 244,000 physicians have found positions in hospitals for a variety of reasons: changes in lifestyle, decreased interest in owning a business and higher levels of regulation.

This post originally appeared on the Health Forum Diggin' the Data blog on March 27, 2015.