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Revolutionizing locum tenens staffing: Ardent Health Services' success story

Ardent Health Services wanted to simplify the increasingly complex management of its contract physicians. A strategic partnership with Locumsmart improved its operational efficiency and brought in an additional $2.5 million in revenue in just one year.

About Ardent Health Services

Ardent Health Services is a leading provider of healthcare services in mid-sized urban communities across the country. The Nashville, Tennessee-based healthcare network includes 30 hospitals and more than 200 care sites across six states, including primary care, cancer care, heart care, rehabilitation, women’s health, spine care, and others. Ardent’s 23,000 team members and 1,700 aligned providers deliver care to more than 15,000 individuals daily.

The challenge: A complex locums process

Ardent’s healthcare system relies on contract physicians, including locum tenens providers, to supplement its full-time staff and help meet patient needs, particularly in medically underserved communities.

“Locum tenens providers keep our doors open,” says Christy Bray Ricks, former vice president of provider talent at Ardent Health Services. “If we didn’t have temporary staff members come in, we wouldn’t be able to function, to provide these services, and save lives.”

Locum providers are essential to keeping Ardent's services running

To manage this process and help meet their high demand for temporary providers, Ardent works with nearly 60 staffing agencies nationwide. The process is complex, and for years, Ardent struggled to effectively manage, enroll, and bill for its contracted physicians.

The solution: Locumsmart’s VMS platform

In 2019, Ardent sought a software solution to help manage its locum tenens providers. Ultimately, it partnered with Locumsmart, a vendor management system (VMS) designed to simplify and streamline the locum tenens recruiting, hiring, and billing process.

By managing all locum tenens physicians in one centralized VMS, Locumsmart helped Ardent maintain consistent contracts and billing practices, enroll locum tenens providers in health insurance networks, and maximize reimbursement for their professional services.

The results: Increased revenue, oversight, and efficiency

Increased revenue of $2.5 million in one year

Using the Locumsmart VMS, Ardent teams at different hospitals could open new assignment requests and respond to provider bids submitted by vendors. They could now quickly select and hire top candidates and enroll them in the hospital system and payor networks. And every provider was now contracted through a standardized, digital process. Through this improved workflow efficiency, Ardent ultimately increased its revenue from locum providers by $2.5 million in just one year.

Locumsmart helped Ardent save $2.5 million in one year

“I think a lot of times in finance people think of locum tenens as just a line-item expense,” says Ricks. “Our partnership with Locumsmart, specifically the payor enrollment piece, really helps us see that locums can be a revenue generator, just like our employed providers. So, we’re able to utilize that temporary staffing to not only provide the care that’s required but also achieve what we need to on the operational side from a business standpoint.”

Ardent's partnership with Locumsmart has helped make locums a revenue generator

Improved quality assurance processes

Another benefit of the Locumsmart VMS is its quality assurance process, which evaluates invoices and catches potentially costly errors. For Ardent, this added scrutiny equated to more than $147,380 in just one year through Locumsmart’s invoice compliance process.

With consolidated invoicing, through which Locumsmart pays vendors directly, Ardent saved an estimated $20,360 in administrative costs in labor, postage, and printing.

Enhanced spending and usage reporting

Beyond the bottom line, the vendor management system provides insights that inform strategic business decisions.

“People ask me why do you need a VMS? I tell them even if you’re one hospital system, it’s really to manage all of the data and to be able to efficiently pull it together and show your leaders this is the investment we made. This is how it helped provide care. This is how much it cost,” says Ricks.

“We are all data-driven decision-makers. If you don’t have the data, you can’t get more staff, and you don’t get anywhere in most organizations. And having a VMS like Locumsmart is what helps us to improve and to tell that story.”

A strategic partnership

Locumsmart also serves as an engaged partner, delivering weekly and quarterly data reports and interpreting the data to help facilities better understand how and when they’re using providers, what they’re spending, and what changes might be needed to control costs or alter schedules.

“I have high expectations, and Locumsmart meets them every day,” says Ricks. “It’s great to have a business partner who doesn’t feel like they’re external to our organization. They know the culture, and they get to know the local teams. They help us think strategically when sometimes we can’t see the full picture.”

Care for patients when and where they need it most

Without contract physicians, some communities risk losing particular health services because of mounting physician shortages, explains Ricks. She says the situation is dire in specialty areas such as gastroenterology.

“If we did not have our temporary locum providers, we would have no service line,” she says. “That means there would be no colonoscopies, no surgeries, no cancer diagnoses — all those things that happen within the GI specialty.”

Patients don't have any indication a locum provider isn't an Ardent physician due to seamless integration

Contract physicians have allowed services to continue uninterrupted in Ardent’s facilities, and Locumsmart has simplified the management process.

“When a patient encounters a locum tenens physician at any of our facilities, the provider is so smoothly integrated into the overall system that the patient will never have any indication of their employment status. All they know is that they’re receiving quality care, when and where they need it the most. That benefit extends to the patient’s family and the community at large.”

Partnering with a locum tenens VMS can save your organization money, improve efficiencies, eliminate redundancy, and strengthen your relationship with your locum tenens partners. If you're ready to write your own locum tenens success story, email support@locumsmart.net.

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