5 Ways to Grow Your Provider Onboarding Program

When adding new providers is pivotal to your team’s growth strategy, your success as a recruiter not only depends on hitting key recruitment benchmarks, but on hitting key retention benchmarks as well. Without a structured provider onboarding program, your organization’s growth, quality and financial performance can suffer due to unplanned attrition.

While 70% of the hospitals and clinics I talk to have put some type of onboarding plan in place over the last 10 years, the majority admit that their plans are focused on credentialing and the provider’s first 90 days. Most also say that the activities included in their plan are not necessarily tracked. As a result, they are still struggling to keep key placements consistently filled.

These teams are not alone. According to retention surveys collected by groups like Cejka Search and the American Medical Group Association (AMGA), medical groups average 7% turnover. And, it is not unusual for a hospital to lose half of the physicians it recruits over five years.

 

Weighing the Costs

Consider how much time and money your organization spends to recruit and hire a single physician. Add to that, the cost of guaranteeing that provider’s salary for the first 6-12 months while they are building their practice. Next, consider the loss of revenue (i.e. diagnostic, procedural, referrals) if that same provider leaves and creates an unfilled position in your market.

While these numbers can add up quickly, they don’t even account for the potential backward slide in strategy and/or market position that may also follow a key provider’s departure.

 

Results-Based Provider Onboarding

True physician onboarding is more than a cheerful “welcome aboard.” It is understanding your organization’s specific challenges related to recruiting and retaining quality providers. Then, assigning key players to successfully address these challenges through a results-based onboarding plan. Organizations that do this well–are systematic and accountable in their onboarding–can increase new provider satisfaction, retention and productivity, and build system revenue and market share.

For example, when Geisinger Health System started their onboarding program, their new physicians averaged nine months to reach targeted productivity benchmarks. However, within just two years of implementing a formal provider onboarding process, they reduced that average from nine to four months. The reduced ramp-up time saved the health system an estimated $9.6 million over three years.

 

5 Keys for Growth

Over the last two decades, I have been a recruiter, a liaison, a business development director and a service line administrator. Those roles taught me that there are five key steps to growing a healthy, results-driven provider onboarding plan:

1. Identify and maximize critical touchpoints New physicians often report experiencing a “disconnect” between the time they sign on the dotted line and when they join the community. This disconnect, coupled with the stress of relocating and establishing a new practice, can contribute to physician attrition.

By taking the time to map out the key touchpoints within your organization’s relationship with new providers, you can better understand potential gaps that can prevent this disconnect. In my experience, key touchpoints have included: recruitment, relocation, credentialing, orientation/practice integration, system integration, practice development and community integration.

2. Remove barriers to growth During the recruitment phase, and the conversations that follow, it is important to be sure that new physicians are aware of your strategic goals and how their practices and service lines fit into to your organizational plan. Understanding key expectations on both sides upfront (i.e. their need for specific equipment and staff or your need for them to reach a certain level of productivity) can be a critical component for creating lasting partnerships. It is also helpful to be upfront about the political dynamics they may need to navigate to be successful.

3. Plant seeds for growth via strategic connections A key aspect of the provider onboarding process is creating opportunities for physicians to meet and build key relationships–inside their practice, the system and the community. Ask yourself… “What field intelligence and internal or external data do we have to identify the operational leaders and referral partners physicians will depend on most to care for patients successfully?” Also… “What touchpoints can we build into our provider onboarding process to ensure that these connections are not only made, but nurtured early on in their practice launch?”

4. Help the physician and family grow roots Medical staff development surveys show that 85% of the time the family influences a physician’s decision to relocate. To help ensure the family develops strong roots in their new community, it is important to create networking opportunities so those relocating with the physician form the relationships needed to feel a part of the community, faster.

5. Build in ways to nurture those roots over time It is easy to remember to check in with new physicians early on when practice set up and outreach activities are in high gear. However, it is important to also build in opportunities to routinely meet with new physicians to assess how well they are adjusting and any additional professional and/or personal support they may need. This will help reduce their risk for taking flight at the end of their initial contract

 

Onboarding Beyond the First 90 Days

Speaking to the last point, for optimal success, your provider onboarding program should extend well beyond the first few months new physicians are on the job. Look for my upcoming blog outlining best practices for the 100, 200 and 300-day marks.

 

Editor’s Note: Have you attended one of Marketware’s Friday’s Five webinars? Running from Oct. 2019-Feb. 2020, the series focuses on 5 best practices you can implement today for physician recruitment and onboarding. Learn more and RSVP here.