It’s best to think of observation as solely a payor classification and not a good indicator of risk, complexity, or work required. Unfortunately “observation” is often thought of as shorthand for simple, not sick, easy to manage, etc. While true for a small subset of observation patients, such as younger people with a single problem such as atypical chest pain, it isn’t true for older (Medicare) patients with multiple chronic illnesses, on multiple medications, and with complex social situations.
Shouldn’t We Measure Length of Stay for All Patients in Hours Rather Than Days?
Then we could better understand throughput issues such as whether afternoon discharges for inpatients are late discharges or really very early discharges that weren’t held until the next morning.
Even High-Performing Hospitalist Groups Are Likely to Have Patient Satisfaction Scores on the Lower End of Doctors at Your Hospital
Don’t decide that just because they have much lower scores than the orthopedists, cardiologists, obstetricians, and other specialties, it is the hospitalists who are falling furthest below their potential. It may be the cardiologists who have a long way to go to achieve great scores for their specialty.
This isn’t an excuse. Just about every hospitalist group can do better and should work to make it happen. And because in nearly every hospital more HCAHPS surveys are attributed to hospitalists than any other specialty by a wide margin, our scores have a huge impact on the overall hospital averages. But you should keep in mind that, for a variety of reasons, hospitalists everywhere have physician communication scores that are lower than many or most other specialties.
To my knowledge, there isn’t a data set that provides patient satisfaction scores by specialty. And scores seem to vary a lot by geographic region, e.g., they’re nearly always higher in the South than other parts of the country. So there isn’t a good way to control for all the variables and know you’re setting appropriate improvement goals for each specialty. But your hospitalists will appreciate it if you acknowledge it may be unreasonable to set the same goals across specialties.
We’d Love Your Help Getting Rid of Pagers
Secure text messaging between all caregivers seems to be the way to go, and we will look to the hospital to make an investment in technology to make it possible and train users to ensure that by making messaging easier the volume of messages (interruptions) doesn’t just skyrocket. We, the hospitalists at your hospital, are happy to help with all of this, from vendor selection to plans for implementation. Please ask! TH
Dr. Nelson has been a practicing hospitalist since 1988. He is co-founder and past president of SHM, and principal in Nelson Flores Hospital Medicine Consultants. He is co-director for SHM’s “Best Practices in Managing a Hospital Medicine Program” course. Write to him at [email protected].