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Could IT Sway MD Recruits?

August 29, 2008
by Mark Hagland
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A recent survey of hospital-based physician recruiters is confirming a deepening and broadening shortage of physicians nationwide, as well as newer approaches to finding physicians. Asked whether the broadening doctor shortage is changing their approach to physician recruitment, two-thirds of respondents to a recent survey said that it is indeed doing so. What’s more, 79 percent of survey respondents said their organizations are offering part-time hours in an effort to recruit physicians; 25 percent are hiring additional physicians to cover staff on-call or weekends, and 12 percent are offering flex-time.

Among the physicians that recruiters say are the hardest to recruit right now are orthopedic surgeons, psychiatrists, family practitioners, hospitals, and internists, with cardiologists right behind them.

It would have been interesting to learn from these recruiters whether their organizations are using information technology as an additional carrot to lure specialist physicians, especially hospital-based doctors such as orthopedic surgeons, cardiovascular surgeons, anesthesiologists, and hospitalists, into their organizations. I believe that in some markets, the availability of surgery PACS and surgical information systems, comprehensive EMRs, integrated pharmacy systems, and other clinical information systems, is gradually becoming a factor in quality of work-life for many doctors. Five years from now, there will be no question about that.

This only goes to show how deeply embedded CIOs need to be in strategizing with others in the c-suite and their boards of directors to move their organizations forward in broadly diverse areas. Let’s put it this way: if Dr. Smith, the most desirable orthopedic surgeon catch moving to your community, chooses Hospital B down the street to practice at because they’ve got their IT act together, won’t that be a disappointment to the whole organization?



HCIT has been a factor for med students in selecting residency program. Residency directors have used it as a carrot.

At later stages of a physician's career, the presence or absence of "having their IT act together" will often be more of an association than a driver.

Larger organizations and those who employ physicians are more likely to use IT to manager their operations. Physician's looking for that kind of organization will find more HCIT investments, but aren't necessarily looking for that.  Common stronger motivators are lifestyle (not referring to digital lifestyle, but rather work hour flexibility, less call, etc), and career growth (again, not an HCIT for all but CMIO types).

So, for example, just look at today's WSJ.  It's the third story in three days about Carilion;  physicians joined (were acquired by) the Carilion Clinic, not because they had great HCIT, but because the larger economic forces of an entity that would also tend to have HCIT, made it a good business decision.  (Don't focus on that word, 'good,' too much.  It ignores even larger concerns about the preferable structure of our local healthcare delivery systems, and, perferable for who.)

I completely agree.

Joe Bormel,
I agree that there is definitely a difference between what medical students checking out residency programs might be thinking about, and what long-established physicians might consider a factor... If the newest, youngest doctors, are seriously looking at IT, though, I think that only adds weight to the argument that CIOs should be thinking along those lines as well.