Hospitalists and ED physicians belong to two of the largest U.S. medical specialties and increasingly they are the only physicians seen by some hospitalized patients. Comanagement between the specialties is increasing in some hospitals, and in others, they might be the only physicians in the building after hours. They share similar workspaces, schedules, and responsibility for decisions about the most expensive care in medicine.
And yet there is not enough collaboration between the two specialties beyond brief phone encounters at handoff, says hospitalist Alpesh Amin, MD, MPA, MACP, SFHM, executive director of the hospitalist program at the University of California at Irvine. Dr. Amin coauthored a recent review highlighting opportunities for closer HM-ED collaboration with Charles Pollack Jr., MD, MA, FACEP, FAAEM, FAHA, who chairs the emergency department at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia.
A good place to start is for the two groups to simply sit down together regularly to discuss matters of common interest, perhaps monthly or quarterly, Dr. Amin says.
"Talk about clinical pathway development for common hospital diagnoses and how to improve admission processes," he adds. "There may be a role for the hospitalist in the emergency department when the patient gets handed off for hospital admission."
Collaboration also can improve patient flow and reduce ED diversion, shorten boarding times in the ED, and enhance quality and patient safety, Dr. Amin adds. "It's about how to optimize patient care for the benefit of the patient and the hospital," he says.