When To Use Interims

Posted by on May 4, 2016 in The LFT Blog | Comments Off on When To Use Interims

A few weeks ago I had a long conversation with a hospital CFO who wanted to discuss the right circumstances for when to use interims. Since it turned out to be a pretty engaging conversation, I thought I would repeat my thoughts here.

The core of the interim value is that our interims are highly knowledgeable, experienced people. Think thirty years of practice in leading important areas of hospitals. There are few situations they have never seen before. As such, they can virtually always jump in quickly and make a position impact.

The next question, then, is when do you use interims and when do you hold out for permanent candidates? I think the overarching answer is how hard is the search. Anyone, for example, who tells you that they can find you a good Periop Director in a month or two is selling you snake oil. With that in mind, here are the five situations where I think interims make a lot of sense.

1. Something is broken
When a department is not functioning as a well-oiled machine, there are usually many contributors – beginning with not having the right leader. We have all experienced this at some point in our careers. Quality suffers, turnover increases, poor financial results follow, and it can be really demoralizing. Bringing in an experienced outsider can be the antidote to make the difficult decisions that need to be made without long time personal feelings getting in the way of making sound organizational decisions.

2. It’s a hard position to fill
A GOOD permanent Periop Director search will take 12-18 months to find. Waiting to fill the position on a permanent basis means you are running the largest profit contributor in the hospital with a band-aid. The likely result is seeing your surgery numbers decline and your infection numbers grow, which throws the whole hospital out of whack both operationally and financially. Moreover, having a good interim allows you to not have to settle for an imperfect permanent candidate.

3. Mentoring
In today’s world where there is such a lack of candidates for many key department leadership positions, being able to have a highly experienced interim who can mentor an identified internal candidate pays off really well. It provides on the job training without the risk of costly rookie mistakes.

4. Road testing a candidate
So many of the interims are used for critical leadership positions – CNO, Periop Director, ED Director, Case Management, etc. The fastest growing part of our business is interims who convert to permanent. While this is still occurring at a relatively low level, it can truly be the perfect segway for a hospital that is concerned about being able to find the right candidate fit.

5. It’s a variable expense
Hiring an interim is no different than hiring a consultant to help with JCAHO or risk management or marketing. It costs a little extra, but there are no benefits/taxes that need to be paid and it is finite. Once their job is done, that is it. When the risk and cost of an existing operating process is getting a little scary, that’s when you know you need an interim.

LFT continues to grow. And while we do both interim and permanent placements, interim is what our company was built upon. As such, we have an incredible team of highly experienced people we place over and over again. They really make a great impact in a relatively short period of time.

Give us a call if you think we can help.


Bill Haylon