Here’s the bad news: Doctors don’t stick around forever. At some point, a physician in your practice is going to retire or find an opportunity elsewhere. Before he moves on, you’ll likely conduct an exit interview or set aside time to make sure charts are up to date, business transactions are documented, and a solid transition plan is in place.
Tying up all the loose ends will ensure patients receive the level of care they’ve come to expect and help the practice continue to be successful.
It’s important to take a similar approach when working with locum tenens physicians. Locums are great at filling in during a transitional period, generating additional revenue for your facility, and helping out during busy times. But by their very nature, locum tenens will only be with you for a limited time.
To make sure everything is taken care of before a locum heads off to her next assignment — and that you’re able to bill for all of her services — it’s a good idea to spend an hour with the physician for a quick exit interview.
Make it a regular practice to calendar a specific time to do the following before the end of a locum tenens assignment:
• Discuss the patient transition process. Determine who will take over the locum’s workload and if there is any information that needs to be transferred from one doctor to another.
• Collect supplies. Make sure any physical materials given to a locum, like a name badge or pager, are returned prior to his departure.
• Discuss the medical record sign-off status. A quick check-in serves as a reminder to the locum and also creates an opportunity for planning if not all records will be completed before the end of the assignment.
• Make a plan for completion of any outstanding medical records. This includes giving clear directives about how and where records should be sent and when they should be completed.
• Verify the physician’s contact information. Make sure you have the locum’s current e-mail address and contact information in case you have questions regarding patients or records.
Practices that have the most successful and beneficial experiences with locum tenens physicians understand that onboarding a new locum — making sure she has the right tools, information, and resources to fit in and do her best work — is crucial. Offboarding — closing up all the loops before the end of the assignment — is just as important. Thoughtful offboarding will not only create a better experience for the locum, it will ensure continuity of care for your patients and maximize the financial benefit to your practice.