What You Need to Know About Introducing New Physicians

Introducing New Physicians
Bringing new physicians into the fold is usually an exciting time for a medical practice, whether it’s a small country practice, a large urban care center or anything in between. However, onboarding a new practitioner can also create the fertile ground for frustration, missed opportunities, and even failure.

Integrating new physicians into any health care environment requires diligence, patience and foresight. While recruiting the right candidate sets the foundation for a mutually beneficial relationship, the ability to retain that candidate is the brick and mortar that will largely determine whether the relationship is ultimately successful.  

According to the Medical Group Management Association, the turnover among new physicians has been estimated to be 25% for the first three years of employment. MGMA further reports that the cost of lost revenue, recruitment fees, signing bonuses, the cost of interviewing and relocation and other start-up costs for a new physician can total as much as $750,000.

At first blush, this might seem hard to believe, perhaps even ridiculous. After all, we expect a well-educated professional to hit the ground running, so to speak. Consider, however, that effectively incorporating new physicians into any practice can be “a 90 to 180-day process that requires attention to hundreds of details.” One simply cannot expect a doctor to intuit the ins and outs of functioning in a new environment.

“Trial and error” is not the way to onboard new physicians. There is just too much at stake. On the other hand, well-structured onboarding can actually work on two fronts:

  1. By helping the doctor successfully acclimate to a new working environment;
  2. By providing existing personnel the ability to integrate that new physician in a manner that isn’t disruptive to the existing operation of the practice or facility.

Meeting those two objectives will go a long way towards creating a lasting relationship between the doctor and employer, one which leads to a stable environment in which patients are likely to feel comfortable.

The following steps will help demonstrate that a new physician is a welcome and valuable asset to the practice and not just simply a necessary addition.

Thorough orientation is key – Although most employers do more than provide keys to the facilities and show a new hire where the washroom is, most orientation procedures are woefully inadequate because they do not address such things as:

  • H.R. Practices (personnel policies and procedures regarding vacation requests, sick time, parking, benefits, etc.)
  • Office procedures (ordering supplies or scheduling a board room, for example)
  • I.T. connectivity, access, permitted/prohibited use and technical support
  • Financial practices of the office (revenue expectations, accounts payable/receivable, bonus structure)
  • Workflow in the office/staff responsibilities
  • Insurance and licensing requirements, credentialing (coverage, who is responsible for payment, deadlines, etc.)
  • Chain of command/complaint

Marketing – Have the new doctor create a bio to which other relevant information can be added such as focus of the practice, availability, etc. The following should also be considered: 

  • Website update
  • Postcards/mailings to existing patients
  • Announcements in industry publications/advertising

Staff integration – More than a simple introduction on the doctor’s first day of work.

  • Onboarding is a two-way street. Much as doctor’s offices and care facilities should make new physicians comfortable in their new work environment, the same applies to making office staff comfortable with new hires.
  • Both admin and medical staff will want to know why the doctor has been hired and what they can expect from that individual.
  • The more a practice provides early opportunities for relaxed and informal interaction, the greater the likelihood of creating a working environment comfortable for all involved and conducive to providing the best medical care and treatment available.

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