Using localized inpatient teams of hospitalists and physician assistants in single nursing units can boost physicians' productivity, hospital efficiency, and patient outcomes, according to a study in the Journal of Hospital Medicine.
The study, "Impact of Localizing General Medical Teams to a Single Nursing Unit," compared the effectiveness of using localized medical teams with nonlocalized teams in caring for patients in the nursing unit of an academic medical center from April to mid-July 2010. The localized team members received 51% fewer paged messages, logged more encounters with patients, and generated more relative value units (RVUs) during the workday compared with the nonlocalized teams, researchers reported.
These findings point to an overall significant increase in team productivity. The risk of 30-day readmissions and the patient charges incurred remained the same.
Lead author Siddhartha Singh, MD, MS, associate chief medical officer at Froedtert Hospital and the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, says the study's most surprising finding was that patients averaged longer length of stay (LOS) under localized team care. However, Dr. Singh says, "if somebody wants to try out localization, the big message from our study is that it's a good thing as far as workflow is concerned."
Dr. Singh hopes the research will spark future studies about localized hospitalist teams and the optimal amount of localization needed to improve productivity and efficiency.
"When others try to localize patients, they need to be careful of 100% localization," he says. "My sense is, without having studied this any further, there's a sweet spot that optimizes the care provided to the patients [and maximizes] hospital efficiency and physician assistant productivity. I'm hoping that the next set of research on this topic tries to investigate that."