Coping with disjointed administrative goals, demonstrating value to hospital leadership, and strengthening support networks for one another were hot-button topics during the Special Interest Group for Community Hospitalists at this year’s HM17.
A mix of hospitalists from rural, urban, and suburban facilities with an average 200-500 beds joined in the discussion, moderated by Stephen Behnke, MD, an internist and president of MedOne in Columbus, Ohio, and Jason Robertson, MD, an internist with HealthPartners in Bloomington, Minn.
Burnout was seen by several in the crowd of about two dozen physicians as being related in part to poor staffing and scheduling decisions at the administrative level, and not allocating clerical work to other staff, often forcing hospitalists to perform tasks not at the top of their license. One solution offered was to amortize the cost of physicians doing paperwork according to their salaries, and to bring those numbers to the attention of hospital leadership.
The group called on the Society of Hospital Medicine to create and disseminate evidence-based resources to help demonstrate their value to hospital administration. Many in the group expressed interest in learning how to communicate their value effectively to their respective C-suites to underscore the essential nature HM has to the core business. In an interview directly after the session, Dr. Behnke explained that hospital leaders often underfund HM programs, only to find that the decision ends up costing them more in the long run.
Lots of upset was vented by session attendees over patient discharge protocols that often resulted in higher lengths of stay or increased readmissions, which then reflected poorly on the hospitalist. The group agreed that since there was no one-size-fits-all approach to this, it would be helpful to start a listserv of community hospitalists in the SHM that was organized by hospital size, location, and types of staffing, so it would be easier to find solutions by connecting with others with similar concerns.
Many in the group also shared how their respective facilities promoted wellness through togetherness activities: staff retreats, movie nights, book clubs, group family outings, and forming alliances with hospitalists at other local hospitals. The general consensus was that this helped improve staff morale.