COVID-19 Indicates hiring surge of APPs

HSG Survey on Impact of COVID-19 Indicates Potential Hiring Surge of Advanced Practice Providers (APPs) by Healthcare Systems

National Healthcare Consulting Firm Redefines APPs as Non-Physician, Direct Care Providers in the Healthcare Office Setting

The results of a COVID-19 Strategic Implication Survey recently conducted by a national healthcare consulting firm, HSG, reveal potential changes to recruitment and hiring practices at healthcare organizations across the country in light of the pandemic. With input from more than 50 trusted healthcare executives and employed provider group leaders, respondents weighed in to share their perspectives on COVID-19’s current and expected impact on recruitment strategies over the next two years. Nearly half (46%) of those who completed the survey believe that COVID-19 will change their recruitment and hiring practices.

HSG’s survey broke the categories for recruitment into five separate job types and asked executives to identify the likelihood of recruiting more or fewer workers in each. The job segments evaluated included Primary Care Advanced Practice Providers, Primary Care Physicians, Specialty Advanced Practice Providers, Medical Specialists, and Surgical Specialists. An overwhelming 89% of survey respondents indicated that they are likely to recruit more Primary Care Advanced Practice Providers (APPs) for their healthcare system than they had initially planned during the next two years. This data sharply contrasts with only 45% of executives planning to recruit more Primary Care Physicians than they had initially planned.  

Additional data revealed by HSG’s survey shows that executives plan to change their recruitment practices broadly across the spectrum. When asked about the recruitment of Medical Specialists and Surgical Specialists, 90% and 91% of respondents indicated that they will now hire fewer providers in those respective categories than planned initially. Forty percent of those surveyed revealed they will now hire more Specialty Advanced Practice Providers than initially planned.

Without a national naming convention for workers who augment physician capabilities in the traditional employed healthcare network setting, HSG defines APPs as non-physician, direct care providers in the healthcare setting comprised of Physician Assistants (PAs) and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs), such as Nurse Practitioners (NPs), Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs), Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs), and Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs). HSG defines who comprises the APP grouping to clearly indicate the included providers and allow healthcare organizations to make informed decisions when considering the addition of APPs to their care delivery models.

“Given the additional healthcare system financial strain due to the global pandemic impact, it comes as little surprise that healthcare executives are considering increased recruitment and utilization of APPs,” said Dr. Terrence R. McWilliams, Director and Chief Clinical Consultant at HSG.

“Healthcare systems started to contemplate this strategy when experts first predicted a physician shortage, which was exacerbated by the aging physician and patient population demographics. COVID-19 put a magnifying glass on the issue – and increased the early departure of some physicians who were near the end of their careers. This combination of factors forces action to be taken,” Dr. McWillams added.

Financial data reports from organizations such as the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) support the shift to incorporate APPs as healthcare organizations move toward value-based care. There is a need to innovate care delivery models, regardless of the COVID-19 outbreak, to reflect the market’s changing demands. APPs can perform significant roles to enhance preventive and wellness care, care management services, patient education initiatives, patient satisfaction enhancement, and favorable clinical outcomes achievement. All of these functions contribute to success in a value-based care environment.

Additional details and survey data are available for download on HSG’s website. For more information on how healthcare systems and hospitals can address strategic concerns and incorporate APPs into current care delivery models, visit the APP Utilization section at


About HSG

HSG builds high performing physician networks so health systems can address complex changes with confidence. From boosting market power and financial strength to preparing for value-based care, HSG can help you define your strategy, implement that strategy, and manage your physician network short or long-term. HSG, a Louisville-based, national healthcare consultancy firm, can be reached via their website, LinkedIn, by emailing, or by calling (502) 814-1180.


D.J. Sullivan

Chief Strategy Officer and Managing Director of Claims Data Analytics