Hospitalists aren’t urban planners, but it doesn’t take a zoning expert to realize that when a community sees hundreds of new homes built, some of the residents of those homes will end up in the hospital. The same logic applies when a company moves thousands of jobs to an office building a few blocks away from a hospital.
HM group leaders might not normally think about such things when analyzing whether they need to add staff, but at least one practice consultant says they should.
“If you fail to look outside the building, you will fail,” says Kenneth Hertz, FACMPE, principal of MGMA’s Health Care Consulting Group. “I think the outside metrics are almost more important. You’ve got to stay on top of what’s happening outside in your community, because the people you serve are your market, and if all you do is look within the four walls of the hospital, you will not see what’s coming.”
Hospitals often have community data available, Hertz says, but group leaders don’t always think to access it. He suggests they view the information as a routine part of their strategic planning.
Of course, Hertz adds, it’s not the only information that goes into the expansion equation, but administrators often respect group leaders who come armed with data from inside and outside the hospital about why it is necessary to make a new hire.
“It’s about open, honest discussion,” he says. “It’s about looking at information both inside the four walls and outside in the community. It’s not easy, but it can be done. But you’ve got to plan.”
Hertz says HM group leaders should plan at least 12 to 18 months out for a hire, “which I know is hard these days,” he says. But, he adds, short-term forecasting makes it “very difficult” to know when and how best to grow your group. TH
Richard Quinn is a freelance writer in New Jersey.