Physician Onboarding Process—The Secret Competitive Advantage
Retention, Growth & Cost Savings
Every hospital and health system is looking for ways to expand and grow. With each organization trying to vie for a competitive advantage, a well-executed physician onboarding process and volume ramp-up program can be an untapped opportunity for retention, growth and cost savings.
It takes an average physician 18 months from first day on the job to reach full patience volume. In this case, the assumption that if you hire a physician, patients will start lining up around the corner is simply not true. The “build it and they will come,” or in this case, “hire a physician and patients will automatically fill the appointment slots” ultimately leads to empty offices and high costs. Many doctors have empty schedules for the first few weeks—and even months—of employment.
Uncover Areas Needing Refinement
In order to refine the physician onboarding process, it’s important to take a closer look at the entire onboarding process. This think-tank should include personnel from physician recruiting, physician relations, marketing, operations, finance and more. Looking at each area of the onboarding process will allow you to uncover areas needing improvement.
When looking at any process, there is an exercise that your team can go through. Imagine looking for a leak in a bucket. Start the exercise by evaluating the first contact the physician has with the health system (perhaps with a physician recruiter) and then talk through every interaction that physician has, all the way through to the last step (the exit interview). Between the first and the last step, or once the bucket is full, look for where water is leaking out of the bucket. With this exercise, a team can identify holes in the process and know what needs improvement.
Evaluate the Physician Onboarding Process
After evaluating your physician onboarding process, you’ll likely find your organization should start marketing the new physician weeks or even months before the physician set foot in your facility. Many times, the EHR system also is not set up, or the physicians have not been properly trained on it. For example, a common issue is physicians not knowing how to close out their charts. From the context of billing, this would then delay payment, causing bills to take weeks to get out—all because of this simple training problem.
By taking a close look at all the steps in the physician onboarding process, your organization will be better able to manage the outcome of onboarding and ramp up. In addition to identifying all the steps needed to onboard a physician, be sure to track the volume and revenue achieved by new physicians. Tracking volume and revenue will allow your organization to understand and analyze the time it took to break even on a doctor down to 6 months (at the most). To do this, you’ll need a financial report tracking all the doctors and how long it took them to break even. Staying on top of these numbers will allow your team to have early warning signs of physicians who were falling behind in patient appointments and volume ramp up.
Reviewing your physician onboarding process will allow your organization to not only save money but will decrease the ramp up time for a physician. The costs savings of productivity increases as new physicians are getting full volume quicker will be quickly apparent, as will patient volume increase and retention rates will improve (when a physician leaves within the first 3 years, it costs the average organization 400,000 dollars).
Whether you are onboarding 5 doctors or 500 doctors each year, a well-executed physician onboarding program can lead to increased volume, productivity and retention rates. This can become a competitive advantage for all areas of your health system.