Our Challenges Increase: The New Hospitalist Focus on Metrics
The practice of Hospitalist Medicine is a unique and challenging specialty.
On one hand, the care of a patient by a Hospitalist is characterized by immense individual hospitalist responsibility for the medical care delivered to very critical patients. Appreciating that challenge and having the desire to live up to it every day is one of the requirements of a fine Hospitalist.
On the other hand, Hospital Medicine may very well be the most team-oriented medical specialty. That team approach is both integral to the 24/7 scheduling and coverage requirements of our practice, as well as to the outcome metrics we are accountable for. Those require teamwork, communication, and collaboration.
A change from the early years
In the early years of Hospital Medicine, providing inpatient care and coverage was the primary focus—our Job #1. Now we are faced with many more expectations; most notably, improving the outcomes and metrics by which hospital success is measured today. Length-of-Stay. Readmissions. Patient Safety. Quality Measures. HCAHPS Scores. ED Throughput. Documentation/Coding/Queries. The list goes on.
These new expectations require sharp clinical acumen, as well as strong organizational skills and teamwork. And they add to the pressure of an already high-pressure profession. It’s why we at Eagle provide help to Hospitalist programs to improve their metrics through a comprehensive set of Clinical Performance Management services.
It’s no longer just clinical medicine
When the Society of Hospital Medicine has just as many sessions devoted to these outcomes/metrics at its national meeting as it has sessions devoted to pure clinical medicine, it’s a telling sign of how our profession is changing. I think the message for Hospitalists is to recognize that the outcomes, metrics and deliverables are a permanent part of our profession now, and will only increase in significance.
There is solid research showing that hospitals with high HCAHPS scores are more likely to have low readmission rates. It’s a reminder of an important lesson for all of us in Hospital Medicine: If we keep our focus on a good experience for the patients in our care, we already have a head start on sustaining our successful metrics.