In our previous two posts, we looked at the overall decline in primary care physician productivity from 2002 to 2016, and the sharp uptick in capacity for medical sub-specialists during that same time period. For our final installment of this three-part series on the trends in physician productivity, our attention turns to surgical sub-specialties.
When are your physicians retiring?
Succession planning is a critical component of any hospital’s Medical Staff Development Plan. But what is the average physician retirement age today? With typical recruitment lead times of two years or more, hospitals can ill afford not to pay attention to physician retirement timelines. In a perfect world, physicians and hospital leadership would have a dialogue two to three years before the physicians plan on hanging up the stethoscope. In reality, hospitals often receive a letter on November 30th - or even later - communicating a physician’s plan to retire at the end of the year. Happy holidays, right? This is a difficult scenario no matter the specialty, but can be crippling in specialties with only one or two providers, or with “superstar” physicians.
As such, hospitals must proactively plan for recruitment to support succession planning efforts. At a basic level, this means keeping an inventory of your physicians that are within three to five years of retirement. You can develop this inventory in any number of ways. However, unless you regularly speak with every aligned physician at your hospital about their retirement plans, we recommend developing a simplifying framework you can apply on a routine basis. Usually this involves an age analysis of your medical staff or aligned physicians and identifying those physicians above some set threshold.