Innovations in Healthcare

Study: Neurohospitalists Benefit Academic Medical Centers


Bringing a neurohospitalist service into an academic medical center can reduce neurological patients' length of stay (LOS) at the facility, according to a study in Neurology.

The retrospective cohort study, "Effect of a Neurohospitalist Service on Outcomes at an Academic Medical Center," found that the mean LOS dropped to 4.6 days while the neurohospitalist service was in place, compared with 6.3 days during the pre-neurohospitalist period. However, adding the service didn't significantly reduce the median cost of care delivery ($6,758 vs. $7,241; P=0.25) or in-hospital mortality rate (1.6% vs. 1.2%; P=0.61), the study noted.

Lead author Vanja Douglas, MD, health sciences assistant clinical professor in the department of neurology at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine, says the study's impact is limited by its single-center universe of data. The study was conducted at a UCSF Medical Center in October 2006, but Dr. Douglas hopes similar studies at other academic or community centers will replicate the findings.

"If the current model people have in place is not necessarily focused on outcomes like LOS and cost, then making a change to a neurohospitalist model is likely to positively affect those outcomes," says Dr. Douglas, editor in chief of The Neurohospitalist.

Investigators tracked administrative data starting 21 months before UCSF added a neurohospitalist service and 27 months after. The service was comprised of one neurohospitalist focused solely on inpatients, which allowed other staff neurologists to focus on consultative cases throughout the hospital. Dr. Douglas says as HM groups look to improve their scope of practice and bottom line, studies such as his can lay the groundwork to make the investment.

"A lot of the groups that contract with hospitals are interested in partnering with subspecialty hospitalists," Dr. Douglas adds. "A neurohospitalist model has the potential to work, and the potential to improve outcomes."

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