Five Healthcare Workforce Shortage Solutions for Physician Groups

May 17, 2023

The healthcare workforce shortage is hitting physician groups hard. Worse, the tight labor market doesn’t appear to be a brief bump in the road. Findings from dozens of studies reveal that the shortage of healthcare professionals in the US will not end anytime soon.

  • Up to 47% of clinicians in the US plan to leave their current roles in the next two to three years. 
  • The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) says that by 2034, there could be a physician shortage of up to 124,000 total primary care and specialty physicians. 
  • Healthcare labor costs are up 37%. 

It’s clear that we’ve entered a new era where physician practices need new healthcare staffing solutions. What worked well before the COVID-19 epidemic simply won’t work in today’s increasingly complex and ever-changing climate.  

The news isn’t all bad, though. Physician groups that take charge of their fate by reevaluating staffing patterns and adopting alternative operational models that maximize staffing efficiency can still thrive. 

Here are five solutions for handling your staffing challenges without sacrificing clinical care quality or patient satisfaction. 

1.  Intelligently automate your revenue cycle  

Not all processes can be or should be automated. As a rule, though, it’s best to let people do what they do best and let technology do what it does best.  

Automation, when done right, identifies claims that truly need a billing expert to review, so you know where to focus staff time.  

According to research by Frost & Sullivan, 99% of healthcare organizations are in some stage of digital transformation. One area where many organizations find significant staffing and financial advantages is by incorporating intelligent automation technologies into the revenue cycle. 

Modernizing your revenue cycle management (RCM) using intelligent automation (IA) can help you boost operational efficiency, better support systems interoperability while reducing friction and dramatically improve overall financial performance.  

Intelligent automation drives results while unlocking human potential. Manual work that can be automated is, and the results are less staff needed while costly human errors plummet. 

Unfortunately, many physician practices don’t have the technical capability or capital to invest in efficient IA technologies for RCM that perform essential tasks, such as claim status checks. That’s why it makes sense to work with an RCM leader like R1, which invests millions every year in IA and has the largest digital RCM workforce on the planet. Our tech platform is built to deliver strong results across your entire revenue cycle. 

2. Adjust services offered

Other healthcare staffing solutions that can save money and limited staff time include reducing the scope of services offered or limiting the hours when some services are available. You can also start proactively promoting lucrative services that consume less of your staff’s time but result in higher net income per visit. 

3.  Outsource 

The primary goal of most physician groups is to deliver exceptional clinical care to patients. Most clinicians prefer to limit time spent performing administrative tasks, which is why outsourcing some physician group responsibilities to outside experts makes so much sense. 

We already talked about the advantage of working with an RCM expert to optimize operational efficiency and maximize financial outcomes for revenue cycle-related matters. Another area that can be easily outsourced is practice management, such as accounting and human resources administrative tasks. R1 offers extensive practice management services that are customized to your group’s specific needs. 

4.  Review compensation  

In a recent Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) poll, respondents said that raising wages for medical practice employees is the best way to sustain workers in a tight labor market. While it’s a given that healthcare workers are likely to be attracted to higher pay, that comes at a cost to the financial health of your physician practice.  

You can’t run a successful practice without well-trained support staff and talented clinicians, but you’ll likely need to offset rising labor costs by cutting operational expenses in another area of your practice. Hence, as wages rise you must come up with a plan to handle those increased costs. 

We recommend a revenue cycle audit so you can discover where and how you can offset rising labor costs;  contact us for help with auditing your current processes.

5.  Expand and promote telehealth services

There are instances when you don’t have the bandwidth to support in-person care, but you could offer care through telehealth services. Telehealth gained popularity during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, but since then, some providers have stopped focusing on telemedicine options. That’s a mistake. 

In a telehealth study, 85% of physician participants said that telehealth increases the timeliness of care and 75% said telehealth allowed the physicians to deliver high-quality care. Seventy-five percent of patients say they would use telemedicine to see a doctor they knew; 74% of millennials prefer telehealth visits to in-person exams. 

The US telemedicine market is expected to reach nearly $76 billion by 2027, which represents a 15.8% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2020 to 2027. Offering telehealth services not only presents the opportunity for greater staffing flexibility, but your physician group could be at risk of losing patients if it does not embrace telemedicine.  

Remember, your practice relies on patients that come back. 

An Elsevier study found that 70% of clinicians said that there will be a need for a greater focus on the importance of the patient experience in the future, as younger generations are embracing the use of modern healthcare technologies that older generations are more reticent to embrace. 

When your practice is inadequately staffed and your revenue cycle isn’t managed using modern processes and technologies, you put your patient experience at risk.  

Will the worker shortage negatively affect patient satisfaction? 

It already has. More than half of Americans report having felt the effects of the healthcare worker shortage. Wait times for appointments are long due to staff shortages; many medical groups have had to cut hours because they simply can’t staff as aggressively as they could before the COVID-19 pandemic.  

You must be proactive. 

The bottom line is that you simply can’t afford to ignore the healthcare workforce shortage issues you face; you must take control of the situation and adopt innovative staffing solutions. The health of your practice depends on how you respond to this unprecedented challenge.  

For more healthcare workforce shortage solutions, contact us today.   

The shortage of healthcare professionals in the US will likely affect physician practices for years to come. That’s why it’s so important that your physician group embrace operational advancements that offer lasting healthcare staffing solutions.  

R1 will partner with you to improve revenue cycle efficiencies and perform essential practice management functions, relieving you of the responsibility for staffing for these critical functions. Contact us at to learn more about how we can help your physician practice. 

Chris Pierce is Market General Manager, Physician Solutions, at R1 RCM. Prior to R1, Chris worked as a Director at CHMB – California Healthcare Medical Billing and Zotec Partners. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Medical Laboratory Science from The University of Vermont.

Chris Pierce

Market General Manager, Physician Solutions

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