Manage the Review
There is no single right approach to conducting your own peer review. Just make sure that the process is fair and meaningful for all involved. The process probably will be more valuable if most of the data on each hospitalist can be reviewed by the whole group, or at least by a designated peer review committee. The main exceptions to such transparency are issues in the first human resources category. If a nurse or another hospitalist has specific criticisms of one hospitalist, it is best not to share that information with the whole group. But it should be fine for everyone in the group to know who is best and worst at things like documenting and coding visits or ordering VTE prophylaxis when needed. Beyond these general principles, the specific process your group uses for peer review can take many forms.
It may make sense to form a peer review committee that performs all the reviews on everyone in the group, including the members of the committee itself. Each member of the committee should have a specified term, such as one or two years. It might not make sense for some groups, especially ones with less than 10 hospitalists, to have a formal committee. In that case, every member of the group could serve as a reviewer for all other doctors except themselves.
The group should hold formal peer review sessions quarterly or semi-annually. The group for which I serve as medical director reviews about one-fourth of the doctors at a roughly two-hour meeting each quarter. Prior to each meeting, we conduct a survey (see Figure 1) using a free Web-based tool to collect opinions about the doctors under review. We use SurveyMonkey.com, though there are many other options. The tool makes it easy to send reminders to get everyone to complete the survey and to collect and analyze the results. At the beginning of the meeting, the medical director of the practice reviews the results with the doctor being surveyed; they are not shared with others.
Most of the meeting time is spent assessing 10 charts for the doctor under review. Using the billing system, we select patients the doctor saw for many consecutive days. We want to avoid pulling charts at random only to find that the doctor only made one visit and there isn’t much to review. We assess a number of measures:
- Was VTE prophylaxis addressed appropriately?
- Was the referring doctor CC’d in the dictated reports?
- Did the doctor choose the appropriate CPT code for each visit?
- Was there a good plan for transition of care at discharge?
The doctor is provided a summary of all the findings of the peer review session, and a copy is kept on file. TH
Dr. Nelson has been a practicing hospitalist since 1988 and is co-founder and past president of SHM. He is a principal in Nelson/Flores Associates, a national hospitalist practice management consulting firm. He also is part of the faculty for SHM’s “Best Practices in Managing a Hospital Medicine Program” course. This column represents his views and is not intended to reflect an official position of SHM.