The Metrics That Matter
For a hospital to survive and thrive, the institution must efficiently and effectively treat patients. Even a small lapse could cause severe financial strain. Lately, economic pressure has caused an alarming rate of hospital closures. Hospitals use measures like throughput and readmissions to assess performance. For more than 2 decades, hospitals have found that hospitalists can help significantly in improving these metrics.
Understanding throughput and readmissions
At the core, a hospital is measured on throughput. Throughput is the entire patient journey, from admission, treatment, and discharge. Performance is usually measured in time and influenced by the patient flow. While throughput measures efficiency, the patient must get the right treatment at the right time. Failure means an increase in readmissions, where the patient comes back for the same issue. Readmissions increase costs while decreasing the quality of care.
A dedicated internal doctor
So how can a hospitalist help? A hospitalist is a doctor whose primary role is to attend to hospitalized patients. Hospitalists have the same training and certification as the other doctors in the hospital. However, these doctors are skilled in treatment, leadership, communication, and coordination. Hospitalists manage patients at a specific location, while other specialists manage specific illnesses.
The right treatment at the right time
When someone gets admitted to the hospital, the patient expects to see the primary doctor. Due to timing, the doctor may not be available. A hospitalist ensures that a doctor is there to care for the patient. Patients and primary care doctors benefit from this convenience. The hospitalist will make sure the patient won’t have to wait for care. This improves the rates of patients who leave without being seen, or LWBS, and readmissions.
Hospitalists help maximize throughput.
A hospitalist often works with case managers and are sometimes the primary case manager. Case managers coordinate the patient’s journey starting from the emergency department. A hospitalist will know the exact steps to take and can even provide preliminary treatment. This triage helps patient flow as more severe cases get faster attention.
A subject matter expert at a patient’s fingertips
Hospitalists often check with patients and loved ones multiple times a day, providing vital information. Quality of care can be the difference between patient satisfaction and future readmission. The doctor can also request tests and assess results without the need for the primary operating physician. This speeds up the treatment process, improving throughput.
Convenience and communication for everyone
Patients aren’t the only ones that benefit from a hospitalist. Because hospitalists remain in constant contact with the primary doctor, that doctor can work on more urgent cases. Hospitalists also reduce the strain on other specialists by being a clear point of contact. Small and rural hospitals can benefit greatly, freeing up wait times, and speeding up care.
Have you considered a hospitalist?
Patients need the right help as quickly as possible. Any delays in care cause a bottleneck, which affects throughput. The wrong care means a dissatisfied, unhealthy patient that is sure to return. Hospitalists address both areas, using expertise to order tests, communicate with stakeholders, and manage patient expectations. The hospitalist is an expert in empathy and care. Top hospital executives should consider hiring one or more of these professionals in the organization.