The 2014 State of Hospital Medicine survey is under way.
Participate now at www.hospitalmedicine.org/survey.
Each year, we look forward to receiving the Society of Hospital Medicine’s State of Hospital Medicine survey results. Over the years we have refined the way we use the information for our practices, which include HM services at the five hospitals of WellStar Health System in Northwest Atlanta. Historically, the report had been used merely to look at the industry trends, and, at times, to cover the scope of service, compensation, and other data points. The information was not widely shared with either the hospitalist team or health system administration.
Our approach to the survey changed when we set our sights on becoming a destination of choice for hospitalists in the Southeast Region. This stated goal made it clear we needed to take a more active approach to benchmarking ourselves against our peers in the field. The State of Hospital Medicine report, with its abundance of data, was the perfect tool. We set up an annual review of our HM practices (54 physicians and 21 advanced practice professionals spread among five hospitals) that enumerated individual provider performance in key measures: total compensation, total wRVUs, compensation per wRVU, and professional collections per wRVU. We then benchmarked the data against the survey data, highlighting the percentile achievement in each category. This allowed us to identify pockets of opportunities and make adjustments to compensation model and productivity targets, thus positioning ourselves competitively in the local and regional market.
Not only did this process aid in demonstrating our performance as compared to industry peers, but it also highlighted the differences in practice patterns within our health system. In turn, we reduced variation and promoted best practices among the five WellStar hospitals—standard workflow, scope of services, transfer policies, and collaboration with advanced practice professionals, to name a few.
In addition, transparent discussion of external and internal benchmarking findings dramatically improved provider engagement; individuals were eager to learn how other practices were able to achieve success. As a result, the clinical footprint of HM services expanded tremendously, ultimately benefiting patients, referring and consulting physicians, and hospitals.
The report also helped us to reiterate the value of WellStar Hospital Medicine to our administrative partners. Complementary to our balanced scorecard, which tracks quality, efficiency, and patient satisfaction measures, the external benchmarking validated a very strong return on the investment that WellStar Health System is making in its hospitalist programs.
The State of Hospital Medicine survey can be a tremendous resource to your practice, as it has been to ours. We recommend setting a mission and vision statement for your practice and then formulating a plan around the best way to share and utilize the data from the report to pursue your mission. As we experienced, a meaningful review, along with follow through on identified opportunities, can be positively transformative.
Dr. Akopov is vice president and chief of hospital medicine operations at WellStar Health System in Atlanta, Ga. Ms. Papetti is assistant vice president of WellStar Medical Group in Atlanta, and a member of SHM’s Practice Analysis Committee.