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Locum Tenens MSP and VMS – The Next Frontier?

by Fanie Pieterse

According to Staffing Industry Analysts, usage of vendor management systems (VMS) reached an all-time high of 79% of companies in 2018 across all industries in the U.S., Europe and Asia Pacific. 62% of companies were utilizing a managed service provider (MSP) to manage their contingent workforce.

Both MSP and VMS solutions offer compelling benefits for managing a contingent workforce: mainly, the ability to manage and track open positions, candidate recruitment, credentialing, and invoicing and expenses through a centralized, streamlined process and technology. They also offer access to a pool of pre-screened subcontracted staffing agencies under standard contracts and bill rates. Additionally, there is reporting of key performance metrics such as position fill rates, time-to-fill and candidate submissions and quality.

With the U.S. healthcare unemployment rate at its lowest levels in a decade, it’s not surprising that adoption of MSP and VMS has continued within healthcare. Over half of travel nurses are being hired through MSP programs and over two thirds are being hired through a VMS technology. MSP adoption within allied health staffing has also been steadily increasing represents about a third of placements.

Despite the compelling benefits, the locum tenens industry has been relatively slow-to-adopt MSP and VMS workforce solutions. Why are the adoption rates of MSP and VMS still at only 10-20% within physician staffing?

One reason that MSP and VMS solutions were adopted first in nurse staffing is because of the large number of employed nurses in the U.S. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were nearly 3 million registered nurses employed in 2016, which was four times larger than the number of physicians and surgeons employed. Additionally, the hiring managers who recruit nurses typically are not the same hiring managers responsible for recruiting physicians. As a result, adoption of workforce solutions in nurse staffing did not automatically translate into the same implementation in physician staffing.

Another driver of the slow adoption in locum tenens was due to nurse staffing VMS technology not meeting the needs of the physician staffing process. Physician staffing can involve more complexity, including varied shifts or multiple physicians being required to fill one gap. The terms and processes are also significantly different, with nurses being called “travelers” and requiring “compliance or credentialing documents” while physicians are called “locum tenens” or “providers” and require being “privileged.”

Today, VMS technology for physician staffing has finally caught up. In 2018, AHSA released its Trio 2.0 VMS platform, which includes an easy-to-navigate physician staffing technology solution that previously did not exist in the VMS industry. Because locum tenens already represents 20% of AHSA’s business, AHSA invested in Trio 2.0 to provide a more comprehensive tool with direct visibility into physician staffing workflow, scheduling, privileging and reporting.

Beyond a streamlined, easy-to-use, comprehensive VMS tool, what else should physician recruitment executives look for when selecting an MSP partner?

Healthcare executives should look for an MSP partner with strong relationships within the broader staffing ecosystem and a reputation of trust and integrity. An MSP’s engagement and reputation with its staffing agency pool is a big factor that affects the successful, timely recruitment of your needs. No one MSP is able to fill all of a healthcare system’s needs directly and the ability to collaborate within the industry is a must.

The MSP program should also have a track record of partnering with the subcontract agencies to build up a pre-established, privileged pool of locum tenens physicians from which hiring managers can use scheduling apps to quickly and efficiently fill future shifts with the physicians with whom they previously enjoy working. This level of synergy and efficiency requires strong collaborative effort and trusted relationships between the MSP and the agency pool.

The adoption of MSP and VMS workforce solutions in locum tenens is expected to be the next frontier in physician staffing. Because having enough physicians to meet patient care demand impacts a health system’s revenues, timely staffing of physician gaps is critical to any facility. The added complexity involved in physician staffing also creates tremendous opportunity for efficiencies to be achieved. Robust VMS solutions are finally available within the locum tenens industry, with trusted MSP partners ready to create strategic value within healthcare.

About AHSA

Founded in 2003, AHSA is a full-service, comprehensive MSP and VMS technology workforce solutions provider to healthcare organizations nationwide. As a vendor-neutral MSP, AHSA manages contingent work programs using its proprietary Trio VMS, developed specifically to provide an enterprise-wide solution for simplifying staffing processes within healthcare. As a pioneer in the industry, AHSA was the first to provide physician locum tenens and advanced practice technology workforce solutions in addition to nursing, allied health, medical office, IT and non-clinical MSP/VMS services.

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