Practice Economics

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Emergency Medicine Companies Venture into Hospital Medicine


 

Hollywood, Fla.-based Hospital Physician Partners (HPP) was an ED business when opportunity came knocking: Hospital administrators started asking, “Can you provide us with some hospitalists to go with our emergency-room doctors?”

Today, HPP is firmly in the HM business—and all signs point toward more hospitals hiring companies to handle both emergency care and inpatient care.

“In many ways, we expanded our efforts into hospitalist medicine as a result of requests from our hospital partners,” says Ed Weinberg, HPP’s chief operating officer. “Their needs were such that they asked us to provide hospital medicine services. So from that, it became clear that it was an area that was really growing. And that is something we are pursuing as vigorously as we are emergency medicine.”

HPP handling both emergency care and hospital medicine can help with the transition of patients from the ED to a hospital bed upstairs, he says.

“That’s where our efficiencies are, because we have physicians working who are carrying out the same philosophy,” he says.

Out of HPP’s 120 contracts, 15 are in hospital medicine. But the HM contract numbers are growing quickly, Weinberg notes.

EmCare has about 400 emergency-medicine programs and more than 50 HM programs, according to Mark Hamm, CEO of EmCare Inpatient Services. He says that it can be much more cost effective to contract with one company for both hospitalist and ED services, something hospitals find attractive.

If we have a hospitalist provider that’s not really on the same page, that can create bottlenecks. But it’s a blip. Our goal is to sit down, even if it’s not an EmCare hospitalist, to sit down with that director and say, ‘Hey look, let’s be the leader here, let’s work together and appropriately expedite these patients.’ We do the same thing on the hospitalist side.—Mark Hamm, CEO, EmCare Inpatient Services

EmCare service agreements range from completely separate emergency and HM staffs to small, rural hospitals where ED physicians also do rounds. Some hospitals “just don’t have the money for a full-time hospitalist and don’t really need one,” Hamm says.

The patient transitions tend to go more smoothly when both types of care are provided by EmCare, he adds. If they’re not, there can be slowdowns.

“Our goal is to quickly and appropriately move patients through the system,” he says. “If we have a hospitalist provider that’s not really on the same page, that can create bottlenecks. But it’s a blip. Our goal is to sit down, even if it’s not an EmCare hospitalist, to sit down with that director and say, ‘Hey look, let’s be the leader here, let’s work together and appropriately expedite these patients.’ We do the same thing on the hospitalist side.”

Inpatient care promises to be a big part of their future business, the executives agreed.

“Hospital medicine,” Weinberg says, “is growing by leaps and bounds.”

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