ProMed HR Solutions

Evaluating the cost-benefit analysis of locum staffing in hospitals and clinics

In today’s healthcare industry, utilizing locum staff to fill health care jobs in Canada has become increasingly popular.

As such, seeking assistance from staffing resources and healthcare staffing agencies, such as ProMed HR Solutions, has become a reliable method for hospitals and clinics to fill staffing gaps for medical jobs in Canada, while also managing costs. 

That said, like any other decision, healthcare facilities should perform a cost-benefit analysis before deciding whether locum staffing is the right choice to ensure that the pros outweigh the cons. 


Traditionally, healthcare providers relied solely on permanent staff to ensure continuity and consistency in patient care. However, due to the high cost of employment, staff turnover, and the need to maintain an appropriate ratio of patients to physicians and specialists, hiring permanent staff for health care careers in Canada can be challenging. Add in the compounding pressure, overcrowding, and excessive wait times currently facing the Canadian healthcare system, and alternative staffing methods have become less of a consideration and more of a necessity to keep up with increasing patient demand. 

Additionally – if a less costly exam such as ultrasound is not available due to staffing shortage, the patient may be referred to CT or MRI – which comes at 5x – 10x the cost of an ultrasound. 

These circumstances have prompted many hospitals and clinics to turn to locums as a cost-effective solution. 

Downstream Costs

There are many negative side-effects to a staffing shortage. The primary impact to the patients is delayed care. A delay in diagnostics or rehabilitation services can result in a worsening condition for the patient. This, in turn, leads to an increase in costs later on, as the patients’ symptoms or conditions worsen. 

For example – an early diagnosis of a gallbladder infection (cholecystitis) can frequently be treated with antibiotics. A missed diagnosis due to staffing shortages in diagnostics or medical imaging could result in worsening of the patient’s condition to the point of requiring surgery to remove the gallbladder. This puts the patient at adverse risk and increases the overall cost by a factor of approximately 40x the cost of basic diagnostics.  


There are several benefits that can make it a worthwhile investment for hospitals and clinics to hire locum workers for health care jobs in Canada. 

For instance, when a permanent employee is on leave, or a position is vacant, utilizing locum tenens staffing can help prevent understaffing, which can result in decreased quality of care, increased healthcare costs and increased patient dissatisfaction.

Locum staffing can also contribute to less overall practitioner burnout, which is a prevalent and increasingly concerning issue across Canada’s healthcare industry. This increase in burnout contributes to higher staff turnover rates, decreased productivity, and, most importantly, can increase possible dangers and create unsafe conditions that could potentially put patients at risk.

In this way, one of the most significant benefits of hiring locum professionals is maintaining staffing levels and ensuring continuity of care by having more staff on hand to see more patients and deliver specialized treatments, leading to decreased wait times and expedited patient care.

Another benefit of locum staffing is the flexibility it provides. Hospitals and clinics can hire temporary healthcare professionals for short-term or long-term assignments, depending on their unique needs. This flexibility allows healthcare organizations to adjust staffing levels as demand fluctuates without the need to hire permanent employees.

Hospitals and clinics can also utilize the funds and resources saved by hiring qualified, experienced and capable temporary locum staff by reinvesting them in other essential areas of the facility, such as equipment and technology, to further facilitate more efficient practices. 

Furthermore, locum staffing can provide an opportunity for healthcare organizations to evaluate potential permanent hires. By utilizing temporary healthcare professionals, hospitals and clinics can assess their skills and fit within the organization before committing to a permanent position.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

Cost-benefit analysis consists of analyzing the costs and benefits of implementing a particular solution, in this case, hiring locum staff, to determine whether the solution is plausible.

As indicated above, the cost of hiring locum staff is typically higher than those of permanent staff. That said, healthcare facilities need to consider the basic mathematics behind the significant savings that bringing on temporary staff would have over time.

A quick analysis of the downstream costs of missed diagnosis is clear and if facilities are already experiencing understaffing, the benefits of utilizing locum staffing outweighs the costs. 

Also, healthcare facilities experiencing higher patient traffic or an increased need for specialized services may see the value in bringing in locum professionals to help meet this demand. This sentiment is particularly significant for more remote locations where having locum staff may prevent the need for patients to spend additional time, money and resources seeking treatment elsewhere.

As with all staffing scenarios, the cost of implementing locum staff will vary based on several contributing factors, including specialty, experience level, and location. Particularly in remote communities, despite the potentially higher cost of hiring skilled specialists, many facilities may view the resulting benefits as a justifiable cost for having reliable, experienced, and qualified professionals at hand.

Making the call

Utilizing locum staffing can be a valuable solution for hospitals and clinics seeking to maintain adequate staffing levels and provide high-quality care to their patients. It is also a staffing strategy that allows healthcare institutions to adapt to the unique needs of their specific organization.

By taking the time to consider the benefits of implementing a locum workforce, hospitals and clinics can gain a deeper comprehension of how investing funding into these initiatives can produce reliable results. 

By analyzing factors such as staff burnout, turnover rates, patient demand, proximal costs and downstream costs, healthcare facilities can determine whether a cost-effective locum workforce can help fill the gaps in staffing while reducing the workload on existing staff and lowering overall costs.To find reliable locum professionals or to determine whether your facility could benefit from hiring locum specialists, visit

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