Alphonse Bilicic is the Director of Physician Recruitment at UHC Solutions. His work with Primary Care Physicians and Advanced Practitioners for Community Health Centers and FQHC’s across the nation has served our healthcare clients well in some very challenging markets. On Monday, March 16th, the community healthcare recruitment business changed dramatically in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This article shares a candid Q&A with Alphonse on how recruiting for FQHCs is changing along with our behaviors designed to keep people safe from the coronavirus.
How have community healthcare services changed because of COVID-
Community Health Centers provide direct primary care services to underserved patient populations, many of which are at high risk due to COVID-19. To counter the COVID crisis while still maintaining safe practice/social distancing, they’ve implemented telehealth services and have halted “non-essential” service lines. In some circumstances, FQHCs have seen a decrease in patient visits, as well as gross revenues decline from 40-60%.
Are FQHCs still hiring physicians?
Despite the decrease in patient visits and revenue, Community Health Centers are still optimistic, and many are looking to hire physicians credentialed in primary care and behavioral health and dentistry. Underserved communities across the country still need our services and depend on us, and not just for their primary care needs. As the COVID-19 pandemic slows and stay at home orders end, FQHCs will see a spike in total patient visits and will need to be operating at full capacity to be able to address the needs of their community.
Do you see any permanent market changes caused by the COVID-19 crisis?
Many things could change. We feel that with the universal implementation of telehealth services, there will be an increase of patients opting to use those services rather than go into the clinic. Patients enjoy virtual visits and many times prefer it over face-to-face! We’ve heard from several of our FQHCs that their no-show rates for primary care and behavioral health have decreased, and that they’ve received positive responses from patients. Whether it’s a primary care visit with your Physician or a counseling session with an LCSW, people are embracing telemedicine across the world.
However, as stay home orders end, people will feel more comfortable going to the doctor’s office. On top of that, everyone will want to schedule appointments simultaneously. This could potentially create a bottleneck, should the FQHC not be fully staffed/prepared. This is why many are still actively hiring and recruiting! When the sun rises, community health centers will be as busy as ever.
Looking into your crystal ball, what type of demand for CHC services do you see after social distancing sanctions are lifted?
We see extremely high demand. People still need FQHCs for primary care, behavioral health, dentistry, or other social services. As social distancing sanctions are lifted, patients will run to the clinic for a check-up. That said, we also expect telehealth to become a major platform across the country. This should increase total patient visits (via in-person and telehealth), as it provides easy access to medical services.
What advice would you give to clients and candidates as we weather the storm over the next 60 days or so?
To our FQHC clients, we suggest:
- Embrace telemedicine. It’s a proven methodology and, if implemented correctly, can be a huge value to your patient population.
- Continue providing integrated services to your patients and make sure they are aware of the availability of telehealth! Most have never experienced a virtual visit and may need encouragement.
- Recruit, recruit, and recruit some more! Despite the COVID epidemic, your services will be needed now more than ever. When this passes, you want to be prepared to serve your community to the best of your ability.
To our job candidates, we suggest:
- Don’t lose hope; people still need providers. Continue to search for the right opportunity.
- However, realize that most won’t be looking for you to start until AFTER sanctions are lifted. This also means that some clinics will respond a bit slower, so be patient.
- Partner with a trusted recruiter. I’m not sure what your situation is, but having someone that can provide you with some upfront information never hurts.
Have more questions for Alphonse regarding physician recruitment? Here’s how you can get in touch:
Director of Physician Recruitment
Curious about compensation packages, benefits summaries, or who might be hiring in a certain location? As always, we are here to help.