Locum tenens was at one time considered a nontraditional way to practice medicine. Things have changed over the last few decades to the extent that locum tenens is now considered mainstream. How ironic to know that there are emerging trends in medicine that now allow locum tenens clinicians to practice in nontraditional ways.
Some of these emerging trends are the direct result of healthcare reform initiated by the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Others are the result of technological innovation. Still others are a combination of multiple factors all working together to create new opportunities. At any rate, below are three nontraditional ways to practice medicine as a locum tenens provider.
1. Retail Healthcare
‘Retail’ and ‘healthcare’ are two words you do not normally see in the same sentence. But thanks to a shift in the way people are accessing healthcare, the retail healthcare paradigm is catching on. Just look around. Everywhere you look there are clinics popping up in grocery stores, pharmacies, and even big-box department stores.
Each of these retail settings represents a golden opportunity to offer primary care on a walk-in basis. Patients who have no primary care physician are more than willing to seek their care in a retail environment. As such, providers are now scrambling to fill their clinics with doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.
Working as a locum makes you a good candidate to staff retail outlets. Locums are a great stopgap that enable operators to start offering services immediately even as they embark on the long and arduous process of hiring permanent staff.
Next is the burgeoning trend of on-demand telemedicine. If you have never heard of this before, consider it a cross between what you normally think of as telemedicine and a smartphone app from a company like Uber. And yes, this is a real thing.
Within the last several years there have been a number of companies that have begun offering on-demand telemedicine via smartphones and tablets. These companies contract with full-time clinicians and locum tenens contractors to be on call during certain hours of the day. Patients gain access to telemedicine services by downloading a mobile app.
This kind of practice is focused mainly on primary care. Clinicians are not dealing with critical cases for the most part. And even when critical cases do pop up, clinicians are quick to refer patients to the local ED or urgent care center.
3. Concierge Medicine
Last but not least is concierge medicine. The concierge business is growing thanks to demand among patients who want access to affordable primary care but either cannot afford health insurance or refuse to buy it on principle. The interesting thing about concierge medicine is that the doctors who practice it rely on locums just as much as traditional practice owners.
Concierge clinicians need to take time off for vacation. They take time away to care for a newborn baby, take care of elderly parents, and so forth. And when they need to step away, a call to a locum tenens agency brings in a clinician who can pick up the workload temporarily.
You have just read about three nontraditional ways locum tenens clinicians can practice. Needless to say this post just scratches the surface. The great thing about locum medicine is that it is, by nature, different. It is different by design. And because of that, the kinds of opportunities available to locums really cannot be quantified in an article. The only way to truly understand the vast scope of opportunities available to locums is to start working as a locum yourself.