Patients still receive the same quality of healthcare when a substitute doctor fills in for a regular physician, according to a study by the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.
Locum tenens family practice doctors have become a staple in U.S. hospitals in previous years. A Grand View Research report even expects the trend to become more common soon.
Staffing and demand
More facilities have relied on them due to increasing demand from patients as well as short staffing in hospitals. If a substitute physician attended to your recent hospitalization, you likely received the same level of treatment from your regular doctor, according to lead study author Daniel Blumenthal.
The study based its finding on over 1.8 million Medicare beneficiaries who were hospitalized between 2009 and 2014. Most patients did not have the luxury of seeing the same doctor during their stay in a hospital. So it was unlikely for them to notice that a doctor was working as locum tenens, Blumenthal said.
The reasons behind the increasing number of locum tenens staff include shorter work assignments, travel opportunities, and flexible schedule. Grand View’s report estimated that the locum tenens segment would be the faster-growing sector in the global healthcare staffing market, which would be valued at $43.6 billion by 2025.
Locum tenens benefits not only healthcare professionals but also hospitals due to cost-efficiency. In the U.S, for instance, an aging population would put further strain on short-staffed hospitals that it leads them to consider hiring substitute doctors and nurses.
Most locum tenens doctors hold the same qualifications with regular physicians, as it is only their residency and work arrangement at a certain facility that set the two apart from one another.