Demonstrating Community Need for Physicians






How can hospitals, medical groups and other organizations demonstrate that they have a need for additional physicians? There are a variety of reasons why healthcare organizations seek to answer this key question. Prominent among them is that a physician/community needs assessment plan can be central to any effort to comply with IRS, HHS and Stark related physician recruiting regulations. Broadly speaking, these regulations allow health facilities more latitude in the incentives they can offer to recruit physicians based on how urgently additional physicians are needed in the community. The greater the need for a physician the more that can be offered. A needs assessment plan can confirm the facility’s need for physicians in given specialties and justify the use of a wide range of physician recruiting incentives.

While regulatory compliance is one important reason for developing a physician needs assessment plan, there are others. A thorough assessment plan with a sound methodology:

  • Provides a pro-active, strategic physician recruiting blue-print to follow.
  • Creates buy-in for recruitment among the current medical staff.
  • Assesses the demographics and practice patterns of current staff.
  • Shows potential recruiting candidates that there is a documented need for their services.

In addition, recruitment can be a significant cause of contention between hospitals and the medical staff. Existing physicians can torpedo a search if they feel there is no need for a new doctor or if they believe their opinion was not solicited. By soliciting physician input through a medical staff plan, recruitment can become, in effect, the staff’s idea.
A staff plan provides a guide to who your medical staff is, their style of practice, retirement plans, etc. It also can be used to demonstrate to incoming physicians that there is a need for their services in the community. A plan which indicates that 90% of local physicians support the recruitment of a new doctor and that the service area has grown by 30% makes a strong statement about the need for a doctor in the community. A hospital or group that can point to such a plan will have more credibility with candidates than a hospital or group lacking such data.

With a data driven staff plan in place, a hospital or medical group is in position to initiate those search requirements identified as being the most immediately pressing, while also completing a physician recruiting compliance document, building consensus among existing staff for recruiting additional physician, and establishing a strategic blue print for future recruiting efforts.

About Merritt Hawkins
Established in 1987, Merritt Hawkins is the leading physician search and consulting firm in the United States and is a company of AMN Healthcare (NYSE: AMN), the largest healthcare workforce solutions organization in the nation. Merritt Hawkins’ provides physician and advanced practitioner recruiting services to hospitals, medical groups, community health centers, telehealth providers and many other types of entities nationwide.
The thought leader in our industry, Merritt Hawkins produces a series of surveys, white papers, books, and speaking presentations internally and also produces research and thought leadership for third parties. Organizations for which Merritt Hawkins has completed research and analysis projects include The Physicians Foundation, the Indian Health Service, Trinity University, the American Academy of Physician Assistants, the Association of Academic Surgical Administrators, and the North Texas Regional Extension Center.


Kurt Mosley
VP of Strategic Alliances
Merritt Hawkins and Staff Care companies of AMN Healthcare
Direct Phone: (469) 524-1446
Cell Phone: (214) 392-3936
8840 Cypress Waters Blvd. #300, Dallas, TX 75019