Sg2 Strategic Countdown: Mastering Ambulatory Workforce Planning

Much of the US faces myriad pressures pushing the supply of outpatient physicians downward and costs up. Other market-specific factors, such as lack of primary care practices or location in an area designated as medically underserved, can further complicate ambulatory workforce challenges.

Managing an ambulatory workforce can be complex, but Sg2 recommends the following 4 strategies to help organizations navigate through workforce complexities.

  1.  Maximize the Care Team. By enhancing collaboration across provider roles, adopting new care models and liberating clinicians from nonclinical tasks, provider organizations can make the most of their available workforce.
  2.  Balance Compensation. Physician payment models must change to strike an appropriate balance between volume-centric approaches to compensation and incentives based on quality care and metrics that advance system-level goals.
  3.  Optimize Service Channels. Providing the right mix of entry points into the System of CARE can help provider systems match workforce capacity to demand. Markets with constrained access can create additional channels through nontraditional settings such as virtual health and retail, urgent and employer-based clinics. Hidden capacity can also be found through use of access centers that offer centralized scheduling, nurse triage, and first-level review and distribution of electronic messages to physicians. Access centers can also take time-consuming tasks such as nonclinical requests and prescription refills away from individual practices or physicians.
  4.  Consolidate Services. In markets with sufficient provider access, consolidating certain services allows provider organizations to maximize their existing workforce and increase cost-effectiveness. Services can be consolidated at the highest-performing sites to achieve better outcomes and bolster efforts to recruit specialized care teams. Centralization can also help streamline care for conditions that require multidisciplinary management.
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