Future-proofing the physician pipeline post-pandemic: Navigating challenges in residency and reimbursement

Fatigued faculty and staff, staffing shortages, and tightened budgets are some of the more well-known challenges healthcare faces emerging from the pandemic. Residents and medical students – like other healthcare professionals, faculty and attending physicians – were a critical piece of the puzzle in providing care for severely ill patients during a critical time. However, to provide care to severely ill patients, they often had to be pulled from services they were on, which greatly impacted their training experience.

MedHub’s Graduate Medical Education (GME) and Hospital Finance Consultant, Mary Dishaw says this shift made it difficult for many residents to complete rotations and fulfill requirements necessary to sit for boards. Because some institutions lacked visiting residents, their FTE numbers were then impacted, ultimately decreasing CMS reimbursements.

The landscape of medical education in telehealth, what does it look like?

Resident training experiences started to look vastly different, but Rhea Fortune, MedHub’s GME Consultant credits the collaborative leadership in the graduate medical education community for developing actionable solutions to these changes.

Fortune says while there was a huge learning curve in implementing telemedicine and telehealth services, it is here to stay. Program requirements have now changed to incorporate telemedicine.

What are the trends in reimbursement and how does it impact future physicians?

Government funding has been helpful in motivating change to address some of these gaps, Fortune says. Dishaw says rural designations are increasing, helping hospitals to hopefully increase CMS Medicare reimbursement caps. Getting a site designation change is a very cumbersome process, however, we are seeing numerous new GME program and site openings, including many urban hospitals are opening rural satellite locations as well.

The rise of rural locations is creating more opportunities for residents looking for jobs. MedHub’s GME Finance Consultant, William Redding says these sites likely have more money and resources to offer and could add options for residents.

“There are a lot of rural locations that will be able to offer a much more robust package,” Redding says. Dishaw says the atypical experiences of residents during the COVID pandemic only further highlighted the growing necessity in graduate medical education for detailed tracking and clarification on what residents are doing. Especially when managing multiple locations, detailed tracking makes managing program letters of agreements easier and more efficient. Now with the evolution of so many online opportunities and encounters, Dishaw says institutions still need to understand where activities would have taken place had they not been online.

Navigating wellness and understanding its impact on residents

While the pandemic may have resulted in changes that evolved the medical field–like telemedicine to improve access to care and a call for more detailed reporting. Understanding these online opportunities needs expert support and guidance, which is where consultants like those at MedHub can provide value. An expert partner helps critically optimize the quick evolutions we are seeing as a result of the pandemic. Fortune says wellness is an important focus right now in graduate medical education. She says the goal is to help trainees remember the reason they got into medicine. To impact the wellness of residents, institutional leaders are having to look much bigger to solve the systemic causes of these problems. Implementing technology or streamlining processes to save time can support the strenuous day-to-day needs which positively impact feelings of value.

“Think about all the things they’re dealing with in a very short timeframe and having to navigate through,” Rhea says. “I think the focus of graduate medical education right now is really to bring back the joy of medicine.” Explore how leading Medical Education institutions have advanced when supported by MedHub. Chat with our experts.

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