Spring and summer are the seasons of hope and promise. A time when seedlings turn into harvests, when every baseball team has hope, when things seem fresh and new. Hospital medicine is a specialty of hope and promise, of better things in the future. Hospitalists have the potential to change the course of medical care in the acute setting. Right now there are glimmers of this promise turning into realities.
We are seeing centers of experimentation as healthcare institutions and their visionary leaders use their ideas and energies to pilot test what may eventually be common changes throughout the country.
First Hospital Medicine Unit Being Built
In Rockford, Ill., the first Hospital Medicine Unit in Illinois—and possibly the country—is under construction. With a heritage as one of the first hospital medicine groups in Illinois, Rockford Health System is no stranger to innovation. They are currently framing the physical plant for a 17-bed hospital medicine unit and putting this right next to an ICU.
This unit will incorporate many of the accoutrements central to the design elements from the Hospital of the Future project that SHM is involved in with JCAHO and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This plays into the SHM vision of the hospital of the future as patient centered, built on measurable quality, and delivered by teams.
All the rooms will be private with a healing environment incorporating the values of aesthetics, including restful light and sound. The design is set to promote communication and contact between the healthcare team and the patients and their families.
This unit will enhance efficiencies and quality care by concentrating hospitalists’ patients on one dedicated unit. The intent is to use this physical environment to create and reinforce a stronger team approach among hospitalists, nurses, pharmacists, therapists, and the rest of the healthcare team. There will be an opportunity to pilot new technology and treatment protocols to find out what works and what doesn’t. There will also be an opportunity to increase patient and family satisfaction.
As Lars Armainsson, chairman of the Rockford Hospital Medicine Department, says, “We’re pioneers in the way that we are transforming the way care is delivered, using the most advanced and sophisticated practice model to accommodate the 21st century.”
SHM, the rest of hospital medicine, and the C-suite of other hospitals will be waiting to hear how the Rockford Hospital Medicine Unit plays out. We hope the lessons learned there will soon provide a beacon of clarity for others to follow.
Three-Year Hospital Medicine Residency Track
The crisis in internal medicine residency training and the poor results in the recent intern match have at least one internal medicine residency program taking extreme measures to redesign and remarket its program to today’s medical students.
A residency program director in the West has contacted SHM about the feasibility of creating the first internal medicine residency to train only future hospitalists. This program has experienced more than 75% of its recent graduates going into hospital medicine careers. The program leaders also believe that with a continually shrinking pool of applicants for all of internal medicine their resident recruitment would be enhanced if they marketed their residency as a dedicated training program for the future hospitalists; cardiologists and outpatient internists need not apply.