Physician Recruitment Timeline: 10 Steps for Bringing a New Physician to Your Surgery Center

Recruiting a new physician to a surgery center can be a stressful process, as networking can take time away from an administrator's other duties and there may be other facilities competing for the same providers. Here Joan Shearer, administrator of Lawrence (Kan.) Surgery Center, discusses her timeline for bringing a new physician to a surgery center.

Pre-recruitment

1. Define the kind of physician you want. Ms. Shearer says one of the first steps in recruiting a new physician is deciding what you're looking for. This will involve talking to the center's current physicians about the kind of surgeon they'd prefer. For example, would the physicians accept a provider who was not board-certified? What special skills do they need to have? Most importantly, she says recruitment should generally focus on a specific specialty. "I've been looking to recruit a new orthopedic surgeon, but my physicians specifically want a new sports medicine surgeon," Ms. Shearer says. "It's important on the front end that everybody agrees on what you want."

2. Determine your method of recruitment. Some centers and practices choose to use a firm to pursue recruitment rather than assigning the task to a member of the surgery center. Ms. Shearer says if you choose to use a firm, you must decide between a retained firm or a contingency firm. The main difference is that a retained firm requires you to pay a fee along the way regardless of the outcome, while a contingency firm accepts payment when the physician is placed at your center.

3. Gather statistics on the need for a new physician. Before you start the actual recruitment process, sit down with your current physicians and discuss why you need a new provider. Did another physician leave the surgery center, or is case volume dropping at the center? You can easily gather statistics on case volume and net revenue per physician to determine whether a new provider will benefit the center.

4. Discuss physician mentoring during the first 90 days.
Your surgery center should put into place a physician mentoring process to help new surgeons get used to the environment, Ms. Shearer says. The mentoring process can include regular meetings between the new physician and his or her mentor, as well as orientation to the center, including training on any equipment that may be new to the physician and introductions to staff members and anesthesia providers.

Recruitment

5. Ask current physicians to network. Ms. Shearer says before you decide to resort to using a contingency or retained firm to recruit physicians, you should ask your existing physicians to network in the community. "Ask your existing doctors to contact their classmates, contact community physicians, contact anyone they know that might be interested — then you don't pay," she says. If you don't have any luck with networking, you should consider hiring outside help, she says.

6. Arrange a site visit for physician and spouse. Ms. Shearer says during the site visit, the physician and spouse should be allowed to tour the surgery center, have dinner out with current physicians and explore the local community if they don't already live there. If the physician and spouse are staying at a hotel during their site visit, Ms. Shearer recommends arranging for a basket of "goodies" to be in the room when the physician arrives. She also recommends determining the spouse's interests ahead of time and then bringing the spouse to dinner and giving him or her a tour of the local community and schools.

7. Follow up with candidate and current physicians. Surgery center partners should all be in agreement about bringing a new physician into the center, Ms. Shearer says. After the site visit, follow up with the candidate to see if he or she expresses interest in joining the center. If the physician wants to invest or start bringing cases to the center, the current physicians should meet and decide whether the addition is appropriate.

8. Query the National Practitioner Data Bank/OIG. Ms. Shearer says there's a new step in the recruitment process as of late: checking the National Practitioner Data Bank and the Office of the Inspector General for any Medicare violations, licensing issues or disciplinary action against the physician in the past. Not every entry is a red flag, she says. "If the practitioner data bank says that a physician who's been in practice a long time had one lawsuit settled out of court 10 to 15 years ago, that might not be a big deal," she says. "You have to evaluate what's on there and make sure you're comfortable with it."

Follow up

9. Determine if a second on-site visit is needed. Once you follow up with the physician, determine if a second follow-up visit is needed. If the physician is deciding between multiple facilities, he or she may want to narrow down the top choices and then re-visit the facilities.

10. Decide a start date.
Ms. Shearer says the final step in recruiting a physician is deciding a start date. The physician may not want to invest in the facility right away — in this case, let the provider bring cases to your surgery center for a few months and then bring up the possibility of investment again, if applicable. The timeline for physician recruitment may vary in this regard: Some physicians will be eager to bring their cases and receive distributions right away, and others will take more time (up to a year) to decide where to commit.

Related Articles on Physician Recruitment:
Midwest Providers Use Personal Ties to Recruit Physicians to Shortage Areas
5 Strategies for Physician Recruitment in Competitive Markets From ASC Administrator Christy Franck
When Hospital Employed Physicians Own a Joint Venture ASC: 4 Points From Dr. Thomas Miller of Carilion Clinic Orthopaedics

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