Could the On-Demand Model Work for Locum Tenens?

The on-demand economy has created unimaginable opportunities for both entrepreneurs and customers alike. Thanks to this nascent economy, you can now bring up your smartphone and hitch a ride across town in mere minutes. You can have food delivered from nearly any restaurant in your city. The on-demand economy even makes it possible for you to see a doctor without ever visiting a brick-and-mortar office.

Speaking of doctors, could the on-demand model work for locum tenens healthcare staffing? By its very definition, locum tenens already relies heavily on the temporary staffing concept. Locum tenens doctors and nurses take temporary assignments of varying lengths. They merely fill in when a healthcare facility has a staffing shortage.

The big difference between locum tenens and on-demand is the time scale. Your typical locum tenens provider knows in advance what his/her next assignment will be. A doctor who provides on-demand medicine via a smartphone app does not necessarily know how many patients he/she will see that day.

  • How It Could Work

It seems that the on-demand model could work for locum tenens – at least from a technical standpoint. The technology to make it happen is already there. The same basic principles that power a ride-sharing app could easily be applied to a healthcare staffing app. The tricky part is coordinating everything between hiring facility, staffing agency, and locum provider.

You would need some sort of technology hub capable of being the connection point between all three parties. That technology hub would also have to offer a number of tools that would allow both staffing agencies and hiring facilities to better manage scheduling.

The makers of Vista Select say that a cloud-based vendor management system would do the trick. Such a system would be provided by a managed service provider (MSP), a company that would also act as a recruiter. MSP and healthcare facility would work together to manage staffing volumes.

From the doctor’s perspective, it would be a simple matter of pulling up an app the night before and looking to see what shifts are available the following day. From the healthcare facility’s perspective, they can use the system to post their needs as these arise. With any luck, such real-time collaboration would result in clinicians and facilities connecting very quickly and getting shifts filled.

  • No Perfect System

The vendor management system of this type would not be without its hiccups. Indeed, there is no perfect system that could make this work perfectly. But the vendor management concept seems perfectly suited to be the foundation of an on-demand locum tenens solution.

Making the possibility even more intriguing is the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI). Modern AI technologies rely heavily on deep learning and predictive analytics. Imagine leveraging the power of these technologies to accurately predict staffing needs weeks ahead of time. That power could be leveraged for all three players in the on-demand locum tenens arena.

Despite there being no perfect system for such an endeavor, there are enough technologies that could be pieced together to make it all work. This suggests that the success or failure of any such system would probably boil down to a willingness among staffing agencies, healthcare facilities, and locum tenens providers to embrace it.

On-demand medicine already exists. It is already possible to bring up a smartphone app and see a doctor right away. If we can make it work for individual patients and primary care, we ought to be able to make it work for locum tenens. There is a way – if there is also the will to make it happen.