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Case Study - Hartford HealthCare: Standardizing Locums Management With VMS Technology

Hartford healthcare, one of the Northeast's largest healthcare networks its standardizing locum management with VMS technology.

The Situation 

Hartford HealthCare is Connecticut's most comprehensive health care network. Driven by a unified culture of access, affordability, equity, and excellence, Hartford HealthCare's vast network of 500 locations across 185 towns touches the lives of over 17,000 people daily. Through its unique Institute Model, it delivers specialized care with unparalleled expertise at the most affordable cost, setting a high standard across Connecticut. 

Growing pains. Every healthcare system will have them at some point, and after four years of rapid growth, Hartford HealthCare saw locum usage as a particular source of pain. The organization had successfully centralized physician recruitment, but locums providers were still contracted at the facility level—and that meant that the facilities were all managing the process differently. Whether it be a practice manager at a behavioral health clinic or the floor manager in a critical care unit, managers did whatever it took to ensure patients received the care they needed when full-time doctors went on leave.  

The health system would, at times, enlist a locum tenens agency to assist in their search for candidates, wait for CVs, conduct interviews, and eventually, sign the agency’s contract; agreeing to whatever fees and rates the agency deemed standard. It was a time-intensive process involving a significant amount of time and stress. Each practice, department, and clinic were sourcing locums without guidance—using different vendors, paying widely different rates, even submitting invoices with different AP codes. As a result, the Hartford main office had no direct insight into the health system’s locums usage, bill rates, which departments were using them, or even how much money they were spending. Patti Lowicki, CPRP Director of Provider Recruitment, and Integration at Hartford HealthCare explained, “We had no way of capturing information about locum spend or usage. We hoped to improve our numbers in these areas, but the first step would be implementing a consistent process.”  It was a problem impacting all areas of the organization, and Hartford HealthCare had grown to a point where the issue could no longer be ignored. 



The Solution 

HWL and Hartford Healthcare worked together to create a consistent process across the health system for contracting locums, to save management time and gain visibility into spend and usage. Jeff Niles, Executive Vice President at HWL, along with other HWL representatives met with key stakeholders at Hartford Healthcare to learn how to best implement the locums program across the health system.  

The process was not without challenges. There was a lack of consistency in sourcing locums providers across the health system. Additionally, there was an unknown number of locum tenens vendors with varying contracts and rates. Managers were consistently spending hours of time sourcing locums candidates. Visibility into usage and rates was vital to creating a successful locums program.  

Those feeling the biggest impact initially are the managers, who no longer waste hours of time dealing with locum vendors. Instead, they simply place a call to HWL. HWL and Hartford’s team to outline what data was most valuable to their organization allowing them to best configure the platform for customized reporting. Additionally, Hartford used the advanced data analytics to determine which current vendors were best to continue relationships. From there, Hartford and HWL developed, distributed, and executed standard agreements with all vendors qualified to provide services. Prescreening standards for all locums candidates were established and agencies would be using those standards during their screening process. Contracted vendors were trained on how to use the VMS to identify needs and submit qualified candidates. Consistency was key with the program. 

HWL recognizes the need to offer continued support to its clients and because of that provided a dedicated HWL Account Manger to coordinate all aspects of ongoing, day-to-day program oversight, and support for nurse manager and talent acquisition, alike.  

The solution launched in October 2019, and Hartford HealthCare has seen the benefits. “It was easy to get buy-in from the managers because we’re taking something off of their plate. Instead of finding a locum themselves, they just submit the request to our dedicated HWL account manager,” explains Mary Ann Tanguay, FASPR, Physician Recruiter. 



Hartford Healthcare now has one process, one set of rates, one contract—All locums are sourced through approved vendors contracted through Locums MSP. Managers have saved hours of time with the efficient processes put in place. HWL developed enterprise terms with Hartford to help their organization and the participating agency partners streamline the overall process. Most importantly, Hartford gained instant visibility into locum usage and spend—With all locums sourced through Locums MSP, it is easy to see the numbers on how many locums are working, which departments are using them, and how much each department and facility is spending.  

With a clear process for managers to follow and all locums coming from specific vendors with a universal contract, Hartford HealthCare Executives now have a clear picture of which departments are using locums and how much they are spending. Time will tell the full story of cost savings and increased efficiency at Hartford Healthcare, but with the help of HWL, the organization has certainly achieved its initial goal of implementing a consistent process for locum staffing. And if the initial benefits of the HWL solution are any indication, the long-term rewards are sure to follow.


Reach out today to learn how HWL and Hartford HealthCare collaborated to deliver a solution with tangible outcomes.


February 14, 2020/By Trevor Strauss, FACHE
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Author: Trevor Strauss, FACHE

Trevor Strauss serves as a Vice President for HWL and has been designing new solutions and driving go to market strategy within healthcare workforce and human capital delivery for organizations since 2008. His expertise comes from having lead deal teams from inception through implementation across the entire labor continuum from search to enterprise-wide workforce and technology solutions. His passion is helping organizations reposition themselves to create the future they desire to meet their operational and financial goals, while ensuring patient care delivery. He received his BS from Lock Haven University, MBA from East Carolina University, and is Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives. He is based out of Atlanta, GA and can be reached at tstrauss@hwlworks.com or 770-298-0122.
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