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Home > Trend: Physician Recruitment in the Era of “Digital Intimacy”

Trend: Physician Recruitment in the Era of “Digital Intimacy”

My reputation as a speaker has been built on my ability to take on a very diverse range of very customized topics.PracticeMatch

So it was with my keynote this week for the 2015 PracticeMatch Recruitment Conference — an event geared towards physician recruiters for majors healthcare organization.

I was asked if I could provide a talk that would outline the unique challenges that these folks might face in recruiting the newly graduating Millennial physician. Most certainly — it’s a topic I cover frequently in my keynote, “What’s Happening with Our Workforce: Making Generations Work” (more).

Certainly everyone knows that the Millennial generation is different when it comes to work, career and life; there’s a wealth of statistics such as these:

  • 75% of the workforce will be dominated by Millennials by 2025
  • only 1/3 say that their current job is their career
  • 60% feel they don’t make enough money
  • 69% want more freedom at work
  • 91% expect to stay at their job < 3 years

Yet my talk went beyond such basic observations, and worked into the theme that involved a fundamental presumption: “to recruit Millennial physicians requires understanding the context of the medical system that they will working within — say, the world of healthcare in 2020 that is rapidly evolving today!”

With that, I neatly tied my “Workforce” keynote theme into my healthcare keynote theme “Healthcare 2020: The Transformative Trends That Will Really Define our Future” (more info) (health care clients and blog posts). I took a look at the scientific, technological and other trends that are providing opportunities for innovation in health care, and then put into perspective how those trends would provide for new opportunities and challenges in the recruitment of the next generation physician for hospitals. This was broken down into 4 key themes:

  • transformation
  • bio-connectivity and virtualization
  • the consumerization of healthcare
  • managing the generational disconnect

1. Transformation of healthcare

Spend some time on the healthcare section of my blog, and you’ll understand that my fundamental presumption is this: “By 2020, we will had successfully transitioned the health care system from one which ‘fixed people after they were sick’ to one of preventative, diagnostic medicine. Treating them for the conditions we know they were likely to develop.” That’s a pretty big change, and it is coming about as a result of genomic medicine, an increasing focus on wellness, rapid advances in medical device technology and other trends. Watch this video for the acceleration of genomic medicine.

My key point for the audience was that the new generation of doctors are well attuned to these trends, and would be seeking opportunities at the cutting edge of healthcare solutions. Two key quotes put into perspective their attitudes:

“Young oncologists are often more up to date in molecular genetics and other scientific advances. In addition, they are often looked to for their experience with new drugs.” Generational Difference Among Oncologists: 
Journal of Oncology Practice

Young doctors feel far less loyalty to their employer than Boomer doctors do. A new position for them may not be the start of their lifetime career as much as it is a means for building a personal – and portable – portfolio of career aspects.” Solving Problems in Medical Practice, Journal of Medical Practice Management, August 2013

What’s the impact on Millennial physician recruitment?

  • they will be seeking cutting edge research, experience and opportunities for innovative healthcare solutions
  • they’ll have a greater focus on wellness, patient consultation, and new business models
  • and maybe it is evolving into a situation in which the “Uber” generation meets healthcare!

2. Bio-connectiivty and virtualization of healthcare

The hospital as we know it is going to disappear; it is going virtual through the extension of sophisticated medical device technology. Watch this video for my thoughts on this massive trend.

I’ve been talking about the concept of bio-connectivity for almost 20 years. Consider this blog post. This trend is rapidly unfolding now.

By applying biosensors to the body, we can measure any physiologic metric—blood pressure, glucose, oxygen concentration in the blood—and send the data wirelessly through smartphones to doctors. The Wireless Revolution Hits Medicine Wall Street Journal, February 2013

“Imagine a far more extreme transformation, in which advances in IT, biology and engineering allow us to move much of health care out of hospitals, clinics and doctors offices, and into our everyday lives.” Our high-tech health care future New York Times, 10 Nov 2011

The real impact is simple, as I outlined in this chart:

HealthVirtualization

Quite simply, we’re moving at an accelerating pace towards the virtualization of healthcare, and this has a big impact on recruitment of the next generation physician:

  • they’ll choose hospitals that are at the cutting edge of implementation of new technologies and methodologies
  • the result is that ‘innovation in healthcare’ will be a key recruitment attribute – health institutions that are real innovators will have the greatest potential for success
  • given that, this is not just a recruitment issue – it’s an institution culture/leadership issue!

3. The Consumerizaton of Healthcare

The centuries old relationship between doctor and patient is changing” – that’s also a key phrase that I’ve been using for close to 20 years. Quite obviously, people have been getting more involved with their health over the last two decades, particularly as a result of technology. The trend is now accelerating at a furious pace as a result of mobile devices linked to health care apps, and healthcare devices such as the Withings WiFi blood pressure monitor.

“The trend towards self-quantification, enabled by wearable devices and health apps, has also transformed the ability of patients to monitor and improve their own health” How Millennials are Reshaping Health & Wellness
Quirks Marketing Research, Sept 2015

In that context, the next generation doctor will have a new relationship with a patient:

“While man’s best fired has always been the dog, the millennials best friend is the mobile phone”
Using Technology to Recruit Medical Millennials, Medsource Consultants, Sept. 2015

The impact on recruitment? New, consultative business models, such as :

  • shared medical appointments or “group visits”
  • “open notes” – shared medical records / consultations
  • shared decision making – evaluating multiple treatment options and consulting on best course of action

 

  • they will adopt new methodologies and technologies as fast as their patients do
    R&D budgets, freedom to push the boundaries, new-frontier oriented projects are critical
    promise of a consultative patient relationship critical

4. Generational acceleration

And of course, the simple fact is that this next generation is just fundamentally different when it comes to careers. A few key bullets from my presentation:

  • they want to move quickly up the ranks — little patience for ‘putting in the hours’ or paying the dues (XBOX generation!)
  • they have little patience for administrative clogging and paperwork — an instant, Amazon type of recruitment experience necessary
  • connectivity is critical to their professional skills base — access to shared collaborative physician social networks is a good example of what this social network generation of medical professional will see
  • not only that, faster patient handoff is part of their culture – it’s the multitasking generation!

Other key career issues?

  • mentorship is crucial
  • work-life balance (60% top rated in one survey)\
  • teamwork and collaborative structure using new career partners (hospitalists, nurse practitioners, etc)
  • part time positions (impact of gender demographic shift – 25% of female physicians 30-40 work part time, compared to 2% for males)

And herein lies the challenge: there is a massive cultural gap in hospitals and health care institutions, wherein Baby Boomers in charge look down on the attitudes of this younger generation. I dug out this key example during my research:

Roger Lyons, MD, a managing partner of a 28-physician oncology group in San Antonio, Texas, graduated from medical school in 1967. He paints this picture of his generation of physicians: “In my era people went into medicine for the love of it. Most people had a passion for taking care of patients—that’s what they lived for. Whatever else was going on was always secondary.”

Yet His description of many young physicians is in stark contrast: “What we see now are people whose first interest is how many days off they get in a week, how many weekends they have to cover, how much vacation they get, and whether they have to take call in the evening.”

I asked the audience, how can you possibly hope to recruit the Millennial physician with such attitudes in place? I pointed out that:

  • there is a massive organizational cultural issue that needs to be solved (boomers extreme frustration with Millennials attitude!)
  • cross generational collaboration will drive successful recruitment efforts (“you can’t dismiss them and recruit them”)

Overall, it was a great, fun keynote with a lot of great feedback. I look forward to doing my similar customized events in the future.

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