LAS VEGAS—Susan Eschenburg, practice program manager at Independent Hospitalist Practice in Jackson, Mich., sat in the practice management pre-course at HM14 and listened to a panel of experts discuss hospitalists’ growing role in post-acute care centers such as skilled nursing facilities.
You could almost hear the bell go off in her head.
“We work in an underserved area, and we’ve just [been asked] if we would be interested in supplying a hospitalist in some of these nursing homes,” Eschenburg said. “We’re going to listen to a spiel next month about that. That was real-time and interesting to listen to.”
That was the point of the practice management sessions at SHM’s annual meeting here at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino: to give the most current updates available to administrators, group leaders, and rank-and-file hospitalists about best practices in the day-to-day operation of a group.
For Eschenburg, the lessons learned here are particularly helpful; her group just launched its hospitalist program in September and is dealing with a variety of implementation questions, including whether to use scribes to enhance patient-physician interaction, improve documentation, save physician time, and reduce technology-related errors. Other issues that resonate with her include scheduling and the amount of time that administrative leaders should spend in the clinical setting.
The meeting helped “[us] to see if there’s anything out there that we haven’t thought about or talked about,” Eschenburg said. “We’re not this big corporate giant that can’t make quick movements.”
Whether a hospitalist is working at a new practice in an underserved area or as a department head at a massive academic institution, a new white paper from SHM can provide information on how to move toward those best practices. “The Key Principles and Characteristics of an Effective Hospital Medicine Group: An Assessment Guide for Hospitals and Hospitalists” (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jhm.2119/full), published in February in the Journal of Hospital Medicine, lists 10 guiding principles and 47 individual characteristics as a launching point for best practices.
Although the white paper is a first-of-its-kind initiative, SHM isn’t stopping there. Society staff and committee members are working to roll out a pilot program later this year that will ask group leaders to validate the key characteristics. SHM will provide back-up documentation, such as sample business plans or other toolkits, to implement some of the recommendations. Group leaders will be asked to use the documentation to determine whether or not it helps them achieve the goals.
“What we’re saying to you and your colleagues is that some of you aren’t performing necessarily at the best level you can. We want to give you a pathway to get better, because at the end of the day, we’re all in this to deliver the best care we can to our patients. So we recognize where we aren’t perfect, and we try to improve.”
“One valuable thing that could come out of the pilot is not just feedback from you that will help us refine the key characteristics, but also ideas about resources that SHM can provide to help you better accomplish the things the key characteristics set forth,” said Leslie Flores, MHA, a partner in Nelson Flores Hospital Medicine Consultants, a member of SHM’s Practice Analysis Committee, and a co-director for the popular practice management pre-course, “Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Managing in the Era of Healthcare Reform.”
Put more simply by Flores’ consulting colleague, John Nelson, MD, MHM, FACP: “We’ll learn from each other the best ways to do this.”