Primary care practices and family physicians can see dozens of patients each day. If you don’t choose the right primary care clinic staffing model, you won’t be able to address patient needs proactively, and those patients will likely flee to another family medicine practice for their care. Revenue loss is another risk of picking the wrong model.

Below, learn all you need to know about primary care staffing models, including finding the right staff mix when transitioning from risk-based to value-based models.

Understanding Primary Care Clinic Staffing Models

What, exactly, are primary care staffing models? A primary care staffing model outlines the mix of healthcare professionals physician practices hire, including doctors, nurse practitioners, and support staff. Decisionmakers must choose staff members with a varied skill mix to ensure financial success and a good patient experience.

There are two main types of primary care staffing solutions. Some practices only employ medical assistants, while others have a variety of employees with more specialized skill sets. According to data from one study, 89% of practices have medical assistants. The data also says that about half have physician assistants and/or nurse practitioners, and 47% employed licensed practical nurses or vocational nurses. Of the practices surveyed, 36% employ registered nurses, while 24% have care coordination teams.

Which staffing model for primary care is the most viable option for your practice and patient populations? That depends on whether you run a fee-for-service practice. Fee-for-service clinics that use risk-based models may find it more cost effective to stick with medical assistants exclusively.

As the industry moves from fee-for-service care to value-based models, you may want to adjust your staffing levels accordingly. Clinics providing value-based care (a.k.a. team-based care) benefit from varied staff with a higher skill mix.

Key Components of an Effective Staffing Model

Which staff members should you hire to provide comprehensive care and meet specific clinical outcome measures? As mentioned above, the trend today is to provide value-based care. As organizations shift from the fee-for-service model to providing value-based care, they’ll need support staff with specialized skill sets.

If your internal medicine practice is small, you may be able to meet patient needs with just a medical assistant or two. A medical assistant can perform tasks such as the following:

  • Taking vital signs for a patient
  • Interviewing patients about their health
  • Greeting patients and answering phones
  • Administering medications
  • Providing support during exams

If you work for a large health system, you’ll need more than one medical assistant staff member to assist with coordinating care. For example, family medicine practices that provide value-based care might benefit from the staff expertise of licensed practical nurses, physician assistants, and registered nurses. Behavioral health medical groups need a good mix of social workers, therapists, nurses, and support staff as well.

Technology’s Role in Staffing Efficiency

The health industry moves at a lightning-quick pace, but thankfully, so does technology. As physician enterprise services appropriately develop staffing models and proactively address patient needs, they must learn to take advantage of technology to ensure financial success and optimal staffing for primary care clinics.

Medical groups, primary care clinics, and behavioral health specialists can use technology to provide patient education and comprehensive value-based care. If your practice is behind the times, and you’re seeking a more viable option, consider Weave. Our software makes it a snap for primary care practices to provide a value-based care model and retain employees with a higher skill mix.

Implementing a New Staffing Model in Your Clinic

Does your healthcare practice really need a new primary care clinic staffing model? Here’s an example of how practice leaders can tell whether they need primary care workforce planning:

  • You’d like to transition to a value-based care model but lack the resources to make the transition.
  • Your current staff can’t fully address patient health concerns, and you think you need more employees with a higher skill mix and more specialized skill sets.
  • You’re losing patients to other practices with better clinic staffing strategies.
  • Your patient satisfaction scores are in the gutter.
  • Patients are waiting too long to get into a room or see a doctor.
  • You’ve been relying on a temporary staffing agency and are seeking a more viable option.

If you decide that you’d like to appropriately evolve staffing models for better patient-centered care, you don’t necessarily need to hire a bunch of new employees (although doing so can certainly help). You may be able to train your current employees to adapt to new roles and workflows.

Medical groups can accomplish clinic workforce optimization by:

  • Providing educational opportunities to help workers develop a higher skill mix
  • Training staff on the benefits of value-based care
  • Assessing staff capabilities and choosing the right employees for each role
  • Providing incentives to motivate employees as they take on new tasks

Measuring Success: Metrics for Staffing Model Performance

As physician enterprise services and organizations shift to a value-based model, it’s important to keep an eye on key performance indicators (KPIs). Practices should monitor the following:

  • Staff-to-patient ratio: If the staff-to-patient ratio is too high, it could indicate that you don’t have enough workers to serve all of your patients.
  • Number of rooms in use at once: This KPI measures how well your practice uses its space.
  • Room or bed turnover: This KPI indicates how quickly patients leave your practice or hospital.
  • Readmittance rate: If your readmittance rate is too high, it might mean that patients are leaving your facility before fully recovering.
  • Patient wait time: Patients get testy if they must wait more than 15 minutes for a nurse to show them to a room. If you find that patients are waiting too long, you might need to hire more nurses and/or front desk staff.
  • Patient and care staff communication: The higher this metric is, in general, the better care a patient receives. Patients do best when there’s stellar communication between doctors, nurses, and other staff members.

Weave: A Helping Hand for Primary Care Physicians

Thinking of transitioning to a value-based care model? You’ll need a good mix of employees to help you along the way. Nurses, doctors, social workers, and front desk staff all have a role to play in helping your practice succeed.

Primary care practices that could use some extra support should consider Weave. Our cutting-edge software delivers must-have tools, such as appointment scheduling and staff communication features, to help your practice achieve financial success.

Once you’ve chosen a primary care clinic staffing model, request your free demo of Weave to learn what our software can do for your practice.

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