December 12, 2018

Physician, recruit thyself…

Physician recruiting and staffing is stuck in the 1980s; a great decade for music and fashion, but, well, charmingly devoid of modern internet technology. The healthcare staffing industry suffers from a lack of progress past this era, using those same antiquated physician recruiting methods and having a complete lack of transparency. Without companies using any kind of online platform, there’s no easy way for physicians to see what opportunities are in their local area and conversely, healthcare facilities have no visibility of the local physician talent available. It’s an industry that’s extremely inefficient, labor intensive, and fragmented, with over 2,200 staffing agencies vying to connect physicians to opportunities across the US. The problem is that the methods that were adequate in the era of The Cure and leg warmers, have no place in our current decade of rapidly advancing internet and cloud technology.

In 2009 I moved from Sacramento, CA to San Antonio and was incredibly frustrated with the inability to have any real knowledge of available local jobs. I had an inbox full of emails from recruiters and a voice mailbox full of recruiters’ messages, but I had no clear picture of the available jobs and companies in the city where I now lived. It boggled my mind to think how far we have come in the world of service industries since the 80s. Airbnb, Uber, eBay, Kayak, etc. are a few examples of the many technology companies that disrupted entire industries by providing a platform that directly connected buyers and sellers. Why in the world should healthcare staffing be any different?

The way staffing works today, and as it has for the past 30 years, is much like the time of dating or matchmaking before the creation of match.com, eharmony.com, etc. Or like trying to find a buyer for your rare antique item before eBay or craigslist. You can see it now, it’s ineffectual and immensely time consuming. Physicians are harangued with a barrage of cold calls, cold emails, cold texts from recruiters who are on an indiscriminate search to connect them to a job, any job. Out of the hundreds of suggestions you receive, maybe you’ll get a couple good leads? It becomes quickly obvious it’s all mostly noise, and so physicians turn it off; they don’t answer the emails, they don’t reply to the calls, and they ignore the strange texts from recruiters they’ve never spoken to.

Often, physicians haven’t even contacted these multitude of recruiters. So how the hell did all these people get their contact information? The answer is: your information is sold to anyone willing to pay for it, and that’s a lot of recruiting companies. Just google how much the American Medical Association makes on selling your data to third parties. Hint: it’s $40m. The reason why recruiting companies are so willing to pay all that money for your information is that every time a recruiter connects a physician to a position, they receive a hefty one-time fee or a percentage of the physician’s ongoing hourly rate. The sums can be staggering, anywhere from $30,000 to $60,000 for making the connection. Healthcare staffing is projected to be a $20 billion industry by 2020, and it’s no wonder how. But with today’s technology, there’s no reason why physicians can’t and shouldn’t take control of their job search and enjoy complete transparency of the myriad opportunities around them. It’s time for another industry disruption.

The future of physician recruiting will allow physicians to input their preferences on geography, workplace, and availability and connect to job opportunities that match those criteria. In business it’s known as a two-sided marketplace model, where physicians who have services to provide can directly connect to opportunities that match their preferences and availability. Just like how the companies mentioned above disrupted their respective industries, the healthcare staffing industry will move to that model. The most challenging aspect of building a two-sided marketplace model is building critical mass on each side of the market, i.e. having enough physicians on one side and enough facilities (hospitals, urgent cares, physician groups, telemedicine companies, etc.) to match them to on the other. It’s going to happen, there are companies currently hard at work trying to create a winning platform. The only question is, when? Maybe when The Cure tours again, who knows? Oh wait, that’s now…

Dr. Larson is the Founder & CEO of MedSpoke. A ‘Credentialing as a Service’ Company. MedSpoke streamlines credentialing for Hospital / Facilities, Payers / Enrollment and State Licensing through their powerful software platform and Concierge Credentialing experience. To learn more about MedSpoke click here.

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