If you are an oncology practice leader in a local community in the United States, you may be increasingly aware of the growing oncologist shortage facing the nation.
According to a recent article from the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the industry is “facing a shortage of oncologists that would require a 10- to 12-year pipeline to fix if we started right now.” This analysis underscores the challenging nature of staffing your practice with enough oncologists to meet patient needs.
As the leader of an oncology practice, it is more important than ever to take action to ensure your practice has an adequate supply of oncologists for years to come.
Let’s take a closer look at 4 tips you can leverage to overcome potential oncologist shortages in your practice.
Like any professional, oncologists only have so much time in the day. Unfortunately, oncologists often spend too much time on administrative tasks and not enough time seeing patients.
For example, if your practice has oncologists spending time on the phone obtaining prior authorizations from insurance companies, you are at risk of developing an oncologist shortage because there will not be enough time left over for patients to see their oncologist.
You must think strategically about how your oncologists’ time is best spent in the practice. Working with a trusted consultative partner who is an expert at optimizing oncologists’ time is an excellent solution for boosting the support of your oncology practice.
With the ever-increasing complexity of the practice of oncology, oncologists can no longer do as many different functions in the practice as they once could. Partly due to increased patient volumes and partly due to bulkier administrative processes, physicians who do not have adequate support are having to sacrifice time seeing patients.
This trajectory almost certainly spells an oncoming oncologist shortage in your practice unless you rethink your approach to clinical teams.
In modern oncology practices, the best approach to take is using an oncologist-led clinical team made up of oncologists, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners. By diversifying your credentialed clinical staff roster, you can build teams within your practice that can more efficiently navigate the daily demands on clinical time.
For example, instead of having the oncologist handle prior authorization phone calls with insurance companies, this task can now be handled by the physician assistant or nurse practitioner on the team. This then frees up the oncologists’ time so they can spend it seeing more patients and prevent a future oncologist shortage.
Here at OPS, we are experts at building clinical practice teams that deliver game-changing efficiencies in your clinical and administrative processes. With our proven systems, we help you put in place oncologist-led clinical teams that include optimal usage of physician assistants and nurse practitioners to maximize the amount of direct care you can deliver to your patients.
As you know, oncology is one of the most advanced fields in modern medicine. In fact, nearly every week a new genetic mutation is discovered that involves cancer. As a result, the number and complexity of drugs available for use by oncologists is always changing and increasing.
In the past oncologists would spend time searching through the literature making sure they were up-to-date on the latest advancements in the field. Now, because of the speed and increasing volume of advancements in oncology, it is very difficult for oncologists to have enough time to read through all the literature like they once did.
Instead, oncology practices must put into place information systems that are accurate and up-to-date so that physicians can quickly find the right information for the patient they are currently meeting with in the exam room. These information systems add back significant amounts of valuable time to the oncologists in your practice, which will help fend off future oncologist shortages for your practice.
When adequate systems are not in place to support the oncologist’s daily functions in the practice, your oncologists are at risk for burnout. Oncologists who are expected to operate as a one-person team doing most of the clinical and even many of the administrative functions in the practice simply can’t sustain the workload over time. Eventually, these oncologists will leave the practice in search of a less stressful environment. This could create a very challenging oncologist shortage for your practice.
In order to avoid a potential oncologist shortage due to burnout, it is important to partner with an expert consultant with decades of experience in improving the quality of life of oncologists. Here at OPS one of the many ways we support oncologists is through our Physician Quality of Life Bundle.
Through this bundle we provide EMR templates for oncologists that give regular updates and quarterly education summaries. These updates and quarterly summaries help solidify decision support pathways for oncologists in your practice. Our Bundle also includes valuable credentialing support as well as APP management, which further improves oncologist quality of life. This enhancement of the quality of life of oncologists provided by OPS helps prevent future oncologist shortages in your practice.
If you are the leader of an oncology practice in your community and you are concerned about the increasing oncologist shortages affecting the United States, feel free to reach out to us today.
We can help you take the steps necessary to prevent these shortages and keep your practice thriving in the years ahead.