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Physician Retention

Physician Retention Challenges Worsen Amid COVID-19

Topic: Physician Retention Challenges Worsen Amid COVID-19

Physician retention is a common challenge for healthcare organizations and the COVID-19 pandemic may have made it worse, according to survey results from Jackson Physician Search.

A survey of 400 practicing physicians between October 2020 and November 2020 found that about 70 percent of physicians report being actively disengaged from their employers.

The same survey also found that 54 percent of physicians are planning to make an employment change, with most of these physicians (50 percent) saying they are planning to leave their current employer for another. Another 36 percent of physicians planning an employment change said they are considering early retirement or leaving the practice of medicine altogether.

Yet just 30 percent of the smaller pool of healthcare administrators surveyed—86 administrators total—reported losing physicians during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The findings suggest a “mass exit of talent” in the near future, spelling more financial troubles for hospitals, practices, and the like.

“A single physician vacancy can easily cost a healthcare organization $1 million in lost revenue, which has a detrimental impact on already financially struggling hospitals and medical practices,” Tony Stajduhar, president of Jackson Physician Search, said in a press release.

“When you also consider that recruiting a culturally aligned physician can take up to 6-12 months and cost $250,000 or more – including sourcing, relocation and sign-on bonus – greater emphasis on retaining physicians is key to meeting the healthcare needs of Americans now and into the future,” added Stajduhar.

Physician retention is key to maintaining a stable workforce now, during the pandemic, and after when healthcare organizations reengage patients who may have delayed necessary care to avoid exposure to COVID-19.

Furthermore, retaining physicians is crucial to value-based care success, which hinges on a stable network of high-quality, affordable providers, the Association for Advancing Physician and Provider Recruitment (AAPPR) says.

However, physician retention programs are lacking or just not working for physicians.

Eighty-three percent of physicians responding to the Jackson Physician Search survey said their organization has no physician retention program in place versus 30 percent of administrators.

The significant gap between physician and administrators indicates the shortcomings of existing physician retention programs, which most administrators (55 percent) said were informal and unwritten.

Most physicians are also not satisfied with existing physician retention programs at their organizations. Only 2 percent of physicians are considered “promoters,” rating their organization’s program as a nine or a ten on a scale of one to ten with ten being very positive.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of physicians (86 percent) rated the program as a six or lower, making them “detractors” of the program.

Topic Discussed: Physician Retention Challenges Worsen Amid COVID-19

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