Back in January, we wrote about some of the trends we expected to emerge this year. Now that 2017 has almost reached its conclusion, let’s take a look back and see how we did.
Tech Savvy Providers
One of the trends we predicted was an increase in the degree to which Providers would be willing and able to use technology in ways they had not before. This one definitely came true.
Over the course of the year, we added some new tools to make life easier for Providers and speed up the process for HCOs and Vendors alike. For example, Providers can use LocumsMart to track their hours in real time from their mobile devices, and information flows automatically to an electronic timesheet for approval from the proper contacts.
Around 70 unique providers signed up with LocumsMart in 2017 and shared their profiles with agencies, which means Vendor Members now can get Provider leads through LocumsMart in addition to client leads. It’s a trend we expect to continue as we look ahead to 2018, and we’ll be adding more tools targeted toward Providers to make the process more efficient for all parties.
Growth of the Gig Economy
Another area we talked a lot about for our 2017 predictions was the overall growth of the gig economy. That is a trend we continue to see across the entire economy. With regard to locums in particular, we are predicting that as the workforce continues to get younger, and older physicians retire (or put off retirement), more physicians will be thinking in terms of the gig economy.
This economy-wide trend works hand-in-glove with the locum tenens world. The attractiveness of providing your labor without having to build a practice, or worry about paperwork, is more and more attractive. In LocumsMart, we can see an increase of about 12% of unique providers that worked over the course of 2017.
Rewards for the Nimble
This is the one prediction we didn’t quite nail. We knew that changes to the Affordable Care Act would be consequential for our industry, and that continues to be the case. What was not predicted was that there has not really been any change. The ACA and the way the executive branch is implementing some things have had some minor changes, but the overall structure remains in place at this time.
It could change at any moment though, and the entire country is paying attention to it. If and when real changes to the ACA are enacted, we can probably copy and paste our whole prediction from January of 2017 to our 2018 predictions blog, but needless to say, I was surprised that there has been so little movement on this.
The last thing we predicted was a trend toward workflow automation. Vendors are using it to be more efficient in their processes and give themselves a little edge. This trend should continue. We said Vendors want back office automation, and we have improved this year in terms of what we can deliver, like offering the ability for ACH payments to be made through the system or mass uploading of invoices.
That said, I don’t think there has been a huge improvement in the marketplace as far as what is best in class. Automation continues to be what everybody wants. We also noted that Providers and Hospitals both think they get too many phone calls from Vendors. From their perspective, it was an all-time high.
We think LocumsMart is a solution to that problem. The phone calls keeps happening because, traditionally, the phone calls have worked. Our customers don’t want the calls though. The solution probably lies in some type of workflow automation to get rid of the busywork calls.
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Stay tuned for our 2018 predictions!