With massive turnover in the healthcare workforce, hiring high-quality candidates and retaining staff is essential for physician practices.
MGMA has suggestions and resources to help physician practices hire and retain employees.
Workforce shortages have become one of the biggest challenges in U.S. healthcare. About one in five of healthcare workers have left their job during the coronavirus pandemic.
In the current healthcare employment market, it is crucial to have a multifaceted approach to hiring, says Andrew Hajde, director of consulting and assistant director of association content at MGMA.
"It is extremely challenging now, with so many practices having job turnover. You need to use as many channels as possible to find candidates—online job sites, social media, local job postings, and the local chamber of commerce. Some of the best sources of candidates are personal referrals and word of mouth—that can be critical to attracting high-quality candidates. When you have excellent employees, they often know many other people who work in the same industry. You need to leverage as many channels as possible to get the word out that you have openings and tie that into your wages, benefits, and culture," he says.
Utilizing compensation benchmarking data should be part of a physician practice's hiring strategy, Hajde says. "It is more important than ever to use compensation benchmarking data such as that available from MGMA. Many people are leaving healthcare because they can find better compensation and perks outside of healthcare settings, so it is critical for practice leaders to look for ways to attract those people back into the healthcare workforce."
Practices should also have remote career opportunities, he says.
"There are many positions in medical practices that work well in a remote setting. Offering remote positions can broaden your applicant pool. You can have remote positions in scheduling work such as a call center, where remote workers can take calls and make appointments—these are positions where an employee does not need to interact directly with patients at the front desk. Billing and authorization positions can be done remotely. There are even clinical positions such as nurse navigators that can work in a remote setting. Having remote workers can reduce your office's footprint and increase employee engagement and satisfaction."
Offering long-term growth opportunities can help practices draw job candidates, Hajde says.
"When you think about the different positions where practices are struggling the most such as medical assistants, practices should think about long-term growth opportunities that can be offered to attract candidates. For example, you can have tuition reimbursement or programs where you are encouraging your medical assistants to become registered nurses. Eventually, a medical assistant may move on to a nursing role—even if you do not offer that role at your practice—but it gives employees growth opportunities and keeps them engaged in your practice through their education process. So, you might have an excellent medical assistant for several years even if they eventually move on to a hospital setting or another practice."
Employee retention at physician practices
Compensation levels and good benefits are essential for employee retention, but there are other key considerations, Hajde says.
"Having competitive wages and benefits is always going to be important to employees. However, most people who leave their jobs do so because of a couple of different factors, which can include a lack of appreciation for the job they are doing or not liking their supervisor or work environment. Some staff members view their work environment as a toxic situation. So, executives and medical practice leaders need to make sure that they have strong leadership skills and that they work on having an attractive culture for their organization."
It is important that an organization's culture is employee-centric and takes into consideration employee feedback on the way the practice functions, he says. "You need to provide feedback and appreciation for employees who are doing things well. Practice leaders need to take employee thoughts into consideration when they use quality improvement techniques to improve their operations. You need to go to employees to find ways to optimize their workflows and make sure they are engaged in the overall goals and mission of the practice."
MGMA employment resources
The MGMA Staffing Resource Center is designed to help physician practices with their staffing needs, Hajde says.
"It provides resources; best practices recommendations in the areas of hiring, recruitment, operational efficiency, culture, and retention; and staffing benchmarks. Those areas are critical to not only helping an organization find and hire new talent but also to retain employees once they have been hired. It is also critical to improve practice efficiencies to make the staff you have more efficient and to make them more effective in their roles. We also have great information on staff compensation, benefits, and many other practice data points that can be useful by geographic area, practice type, and other metrics to help practice leaders make decisions."
For MGMA members, the organization offers an online community focused on workforce issues. "Our Staffing Member Community is a place where medical practice leaders can post questions or comments for their peers across the country. Typically, when MGMA members post questions or comments, they are getting expert responses and guidance not only from MGMA staff but also from peers nationwide, generally that same day. It helps practice leaders make decisions based on what is going on across the country, and other leaders can make recommendations for their particular situation," he says.
MGMA also has a Career Center, where practices can post open positions.
Christopher Cheney is the senior clinical care editor at HealthLeaders.
In the current healthcare employment market, it is crucial to have a multifaceted approach to hiring at physician practices.
Competitive compensation and benefits are crucial for staff retention, but workplace culture can be pivotal in keeping employees.