Each doctor sees the job as more than just providing care to patients. In addition to providing quality care for your patients, each hospitalist in the group must work to improve the performance of the hospital. This means work on clinical protocols, medical staff functions (e.g. credentials committee), documentation and coding for both CPT and DRG billing, etc.
Strong social connections. Every high-performing practice I’ve worked with is notable for the social connections between the hospitalists themselves, as well as between hospitalists and other physicians, nursing staff, and administrators. This shouldn’t be taken lightly. Social connections matter—a lot. And while the hospitalists in most groups feel reasonably connected with one another, too often they feel isolated from the other doctors and administrators at the hospital. I wrote some more thoughts about this in a June 2010 column, “Square Peg, Square Hole.”
Hospitalists actively involved in recruiting for their practice. The hospitalists themselves—at a minimum, the group leader—should be very involved in recruiting new members for the group. Professional recruiters are very valuable but can be a lot more effective if the hospitalists themselves participate in the process. The group will land better candidates that way. For more, see “We’re Hiring,” from July 2008.
Hospitalists know data about their performance. Too many practices fail to provide routine data about each provider’s clinical and financial performance. Make sure your group isn’t in this category. Develop a routine report of key metrics for your practice. Usually it is fine, and best, to provide to the whole group unblinded performance data about each individual hospitalist. For more information, check out “Measuring Hospitalist Performance: Metrics, Reports, and Dashboards” on the SHM website.
Don’t rely solely on consensus-based decision-making. Relying on consensus is reasonable for most decisions, if a group has about eight to 10 members. Larger groups need to decide how they’ll make decisions if consensus can’t be reached easily. And they need to have the discipline to stick to their agreed upon process, usually a vote. For more on this subject, see “Play by the Rules” in the December 2007 issue. 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 Hospital Medicine Consultants, a national hospitalist practice management consulting firm (www.nelsonflores.com). He is also course co-director and 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.