For instance, says Dr. Quinn, when hospitalists want a certain medication to be added to the hospital’s medication formulary, they know that their request should be routed to the director of pharmacy services. Direct patient care, including monitoring for blood levels of medications, drug information, and the like are the bailiwick of the clinical pharmacists.
“In my experience here at UCSF,” says Dr. Bookwalter, “[hospitalists] are very concerned about making the hospital work, which is one of their major missions. They’re also very collaborative. We really do work together—not just pharmacy and hospitalists—but with everybody.”
As an example of that collaborative approach, Dr. Bookwalter points to a palliative care program developed under the leadership of Hospitalist and SHM President Steve Pantilat, MD. The program has garnered Palliative Care Leadership Center status for the UCSF Medical Center.
Another physician not familiar with our system may call and ask for a pharmacist, but our hospitalists will know when they need to speak with the director of pharmacy services or when they should talk with a clinical pharmacist. They really do know the inner workings of the hospital on a much more intimate level.
—Robert Quinn, PharmD
Collaboration Is Primary
Dr. Bookwalter does have comparisons to his current situation on the General Medicine Service because he previously worked in the Intensive Care Nursery and with the General Surgery Service at UCSF. The latter, he says, “was very hierarchical. The team I was on included some very famous surgeons. They were all very personable and certainly knew what they were doing—they were really great. But, if you made a suggestion to them, chances were it would be rejected, since they insisted on ‘caring for their patients themselves.’”
At BWH Dr. Wahlstrom has also observed that hospitalists are very inclusive.
“When we do rounds, they ask the nurse to join us, so that we can have all points of care in our meetings,” she says. “If I recommend a change in a patient’s medication regimen, such as adding basal insulin for a patient, the hospitalist generally includes that in the patient’s plan immediately, and an order is written when we are on rounds. Then I approve it, and the patient can be started on medication promptly. We discuss what is going to happen and the care plan is made right there on the spot.”
Hospitalists with whom Dr. Wahlstrom works are comfortable with collaboration and open to ideas. “You’re not worried about suggesting ideas, or that your ideas might be rejected,” she explains. For instance, suggesting a change from IV to PO antibiotics would be welcomely discussed. “The hospitalists make the environment for presenting ideas regarding patient care open and encouraging.”
Communication a Plus
Availability of hospitalists is enhanced by their communication skills, says Dr. Quinn. “Once hospitalists get to know us, and we get to know them, the communication is just absolutely great,” he says. “Although I don’t get out as much as my clinicians do, if I have an issue I can go to the unit anytime and discuss it.”
The hospitalists with whom Dr. Quinn deals are interested in process issues as well as patient issues. For instance, if medication-administration records are not being placed in patients’ charts in a timely manner, hospital staff have the ability to quickly set up meetings with department managers and hospitalists to devise ways to improve procedures.
Meeting with other attending physicians is not as easy, says Dr. Quinn because they usually have very little time after making rounds and may have to be contacted at their practice office. “That’s one of the main advantages of having hospitalists,” he says. “They’re available. If anything happens, they’re there.”