When it comes to the medical industry, primary care physicians (PCPs) bring several valuable qualities to the table: versatility, flexibility, and a wide breadth of general knowledge. Because of these characteristics, PCPs can provide comprehensive care, treat a range of medical conditions, and fill gaps in numerous specialties, including preventive medicine, adolescent medicine, family practice, and public health.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act and other factors, the demand for access to primary and preventative care has substantially increased during the past few years, outpacing the increase in supply and creating shortages in various communities across the country. Armed with a wealth of knowledge and hands-on experience, PCPs are uniquely positioned to play an important role in locum tenens to fill the need for quality patient care in the following ways.
1. Providing continuity of care
Locum tenens PCPs can become important members of medical care teams at hospitals, clinics, and other facilities that offer quality, cost-effective and continuous care to patients.
Understaffing and gaps in care can lead to patients’ needs not being met in a timely or sufficient manner. Most importantly, that puts their health at risk and can worsen their existing condition. Secondarily, there are financial ramifications to patients not receiving the preventative care they should. It is significantly cheaper to catch problems early and treat them quickly as opposed to treating advanced or severe illnesses through specialized care. With their extensive knowledge and expertise, PCPs can fill in where required to ensure patients and their important preventative care do not slip through the cracks at understaffed facilities.
2. Managing growing patient populations
PCPs are akin to the jack-of-all-trades for the medical industry. They specialize in diagnosing, treating, and preventing a wide variety of conditions, according to the Mayo Clinic. They also can screen for all major health-related conditions, order prescriptions, and handle other important responsibilities that prevent or manage a number of illnesses.
Considering people currently have growing access to healthcare – giving them opportunities to get preventative care – PCPs can meet that increasing demand and have a positive impact on the general population. In fact, adults with a primary care provider have 19% lower odds of premature death than those who only see a specialist, according to the nonprofit organization Primary Care Progress.
3. Offering after-hours support
Healthcare professionals work in one of the most stressful and demanding industries, which can lead to burnout and exhaustion. Asking them to work overtime or be on-call after hours only heightens their stress levels and decreases their ability to balance work with other aspects of life.
However, locum tenens PCPs can help clinics and medical groups extend their hours and provide more on-demand care for their patient populations without over-extending their permanent staff.
4. Improving quality of care
Rural areas often suffer a lack of quality primary care providers. This places a burden on patients, forcing them to either forgo preventative care or drive long distances to receive the services they need.
These underserved areas provide numerous opportunities for PCPs to improve the overall quality of care for highly at-risk populations, contributing their efforts to advancing public health. If patients are able to access qualified, skilled PCPs without spending money and time driving out of town, they are more likely to maintain and manage their health.
Expanding primary care through locum tenens
There is a drastic need for primary care in locum tenens to help bolster the healthcare system and expand access to quality care around the country, particularly in underserved communities. With their broad base of knowledge and medical experience, PCPs are ideal for serving on the frontlines of healthcare and fulfilling the general medical needs of numerous patient populations.