Kendall Rogers, MD, CPE, SFHM, chief of the division of hospital medicine at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center in Albuquerque and chair of SHM’s Information Technology Committee, believes that hospitalists have to take ownership of health information technology (HIT) in their own buildings.
He and other SHM officials have pushed hospitalists for the past few years to formalize their HIT duties by seeing if they would qualify to take the exam for board certification in medical informatics, which was created in 2013 by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). Between certification of that skill set and working more with technology vendors and others to improve HIT, Dr. Rogers sees HM being able to help reform much of the current technology woes in just a few years.
“To me, this is the new frontier,” Dr. Wachter says. “If our defining mantra as a field is, ‘How do we make care better for patients, and how do we create a better system?’ … well, I don’t see how you say that without really owning the issue of informatics.”
Teamwork: An HM Tradition
Hospitalists are often referred to as the quarterbacks of the hospital. But even the best QB needs a good team to succeed. For HMGs, that roster increasingly includes nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs).
Recent State of Hospital Medicine surveys showed that 83% of hospitalist groups are utilizing NPs and PAs, and SHM earlier this year added Tracy Cardin, ACNP-BC, SFHM, as its first non-physician voting board member.
Dr. Donaldson believes that integrating hospitalists and non-physician providers (NPPs) allows both sets of practitioners to “work at the top of their license.”
“Any time when nurse practitioners and other providers get together, there is always this challenge of professions,” he says. “You’re doing this or you’re doing that, and once you get people who understand what the capabilities are past the title name and what you can do, it’s just amazing.”
Dr. Donaldson sees SHM’s acceptance of NPs and PAs as a good sign for HM.
“The day is upon us where we need to strongly consider nurse practitioners and physician assistants as equal in the field,” he says. “We’re going to find a much better continuity of care for all our patients at various institutions with hospital medicine and … a nurse practitioner who is at the top of their license.”
The Post-Acute Space
Aside from NPs and PAs, another extension of HM has been the gravitation in recent years of hospitalists into post-acute-care settings, including skilled-nursing facilities (SNFs), long-term care facilities, post-discharge clinics, and patient-centered homes.
Dr. Bessler says that as HMGs continued to focus on improving quality and lowering costs, they had little choice but to get involved in activities outside the hospital.
“We got into post-acute medicines because there was an abyss in quality,” he says. “We were accountable to send patients out, and there was nobody to send them to. Or the quality of the facilities was terrible, or the docs or clinicians weren’t going to see those patients regularly. That’s how we got into solving post-acute.”
Dr. Gorman, formerly the chief executive of St. Louis–based Advanced ICU Care, which provides intensivists to community hospitals using telemedicine, agrees that for hospitalists to exert even more control over quality of care, they have to team with people outside the hospital.
“If we can’t build what I think of as a pyramid of care with one doctor and many, many other people supporting a broad group of patients, I don’t think we’re going to be able to find the scale to take care of the aging population that’s coming at us,” she says.