Strategic planning has a different tone for Tyler Jung, MD, director of inpatient services of the multi-specialty group HealthCare Partners, who took over that position three years ago when Dr. Hay left. About 100 hospitalists are employed under the HealthCare Partners umbrella; approximately 85 are on the payroll, and 15 work in a strategic alliance. The HMG covers 14 community hospitals in Southern California, about 14 hospitals in Las Vegas, Nevada, and about five hospitals in the Tampa/Orlando area of Florida.
The full-risk California medical model drives a lot of the metrics. “We look at [relative value unit] goals for our hospitalists, but mostly to ensure proper staffing,” Dr. Jung says. “We are satisfied when our docs have 12 to 14 encounters a day. In the service market you’d go broke with that, but I’d rather have our hospitalists see our patients twice a day because it drives quality and it turns out to be more cost effective.”
Some of the outcomes Dr. Jung regularly reviews include patient utilization per membership (admit rates, readmit data, and length of stay), and these metrics are largely unchanged as they have grown. “Additionally, maintaining high patient satisfaction can be overlooked, but is critical with the growth of any program,” he says (see Figure 3, p. 28).
Dr. Williams, who began the hospitalist group at Emory Healthcare, says the primary challenges he faced as that program grew were finding capable physicians willing to join a new or expanding program; managing the different cultures at different hospitals and working to ensure they all felt a part of the whole; having sufficient administrative support time to manage recruitment and credentialing; and keeping up constant communications with individuals and leadership at all sites. He found it helpful to occasionally rotate hospitalists, especially the more senior physicians, so they could appreciate the workload and issues at different sites.
Dr. Williams, who trained in internal medicine but later became board certified in emergency medicine, is not surprised Dr. Jung has some background in critical care, as does Dr. Heisler. He surmises they also all have well-honed administrative skills. “The experience I had in running a 65,000-visit-a-year emergency room and a 45,000-visit-a-year urgent-care center gave me the skills to run a large hospital medicine program,” Dr. Williams says. TH
Andrea M. Sattinger is a medical writer based in North Carolina.