Use a Checklist to Track Documentation of Community Need

For years, recruiters were told, “Go get a general surgeon--we need one!” However, that directive is no longer sufficient. Hospitals have to support the community need for adding physicians to their staff through a compilation of quantitative and qualitative data. It is essential to set up a systematic documentation plan that incorporates the use of a checklist as a tool to track the information.The guidelines for documenting why there is a need to recruit a physician should be summarized and dated prior to opening a search and spending community dollars in the recruitment process. The key word here is prior. I have reviewed various samples of tools that recruiters use to ensure that there is a documented need to start recruiting a specific physician. Most of these tools address all the required reasons to recruit, including both quantitative need (the calculated need in numbers) and qualitative need (a narrative addressing future succession needs, current barriers to timely access for new patients, barriers for Medicare and Medicaid appointments, and other market factors).

Hospitals must document the following information, which must be incorporated into the checklist, to support the need for additional physicians:

  • A shortage of physicians in the community overall by population demand ratios (affiliated/non-affiliated).
  • A current and forecasted need for a defined service area.
  • Inadequate access (specific payer access) to healthcare.
  • The loss of an essential community program, not hospital-specific (i.e., trauma).
  • The risk of loss of physicians over the next several years due to departures or retirement.

Coker Group provides hospitals with community need assessments (CNA) and a sample checklist, i.e., “The Checklist.” Any tracking document is best used before opening a search, and it is dated and signed by leadership. Place a checkmark in each category that applies; then date and sign.Additionally, checklist categories may include such issues as:

  • Whether the facility is designated as an FQHC.
  • Whether the recruit will serve a substantial number of patients who live in a MUP, MUA, HPSA, or isolated rural area.
  • A demonstrated reluctance on the part of physicians to relocate to the area.
  • A significant percentage of area physicians are closed to new Medicare or Medicaid patients.

Use this sample Evidence of Community Need Checklist as the basis for your own community needs checklist.

Please contact us if we can be of assistance in preparing an objective CNA and medical staff plan for you.

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