SAN DIEGO, March 8, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The focus on metrics is more intense in hospital medicine than ever before, and is changing the role of locum tenens physicians on hospital clinical teams, including a greater focus on strong organizational skills and teamwork, and higher expectations regarding working closely with multidisciplinary teams.
"In hospital medicine's early years, providing inpatient coverage and care was our sole focus," said Talbot "Mac" McCormick, M.D., President and CEO of LocumConnections, a rapidly growing locum tenens physician placement firm built on a unique, physician-led model. "Today's hospitalists are faced with many outcome expectations and metrics that require both clinical acumen, strong organizational skills and teamwork, which makes the role of the hospital clinician more challenging than ever. The workday is changing not only for full-time hospital physicians, but also for their locum counterparts."
LocumConnections to discuss trend at SHM Meeting
At Booth 305 at the Society of Hospital Medicine's annual meeting in San Diego March 6-9, 2016, members of the LocumConnections team will discuss this trend and offer tips on how locum tenens physicians can meet a new set of challenges.
"The industry is still feeling the shock waves from Medicare's reimbursement reductions for 2,610 hospitals in fiscal 2015 for excessive 30-day readmit rates," Dr. McCormick said. "The threat of being similarly penalized has brought a major shift in mindset to hospital leaders. The focus on metrics—not just readmit rates but also ALOS, HCAHPS scores, ED throughput and other benchmarks—is more intense than ever before, and affects all members of the clinical team, including locum doctors."
Physicians must be team players
As an example, Dr. McCormick said locum physicians might expect to do rounding with nurses, or to meet each morning with multidisciplinary teams that include nurse directors, case managers and pharmacists. "The team approach is vital as hospitals work to reduce length of stay and readmission rates," Dr. McCormick said. "Many of the hospitalist programs we work with are having real success with these efforts, avoiding Medicare penalties for high readmit rates and the high costs of above-average ALOS rates."
According to Dr. McCormick, improving HCAHPS scores involves many diverse approaches. "You probably won't move the needle by simply offering a class for physicians on improving practice techniques," he said. "By the same token, a few additional positive scores from patients can greatly impact a hospital's HCAHPS percentile. Through decades of experience, we've learned that timeliness in ED throughput and flow of care can set the stage for a good patient experience in the hospital. So can stabilization of staff, and consistency of care."
A smoother transition for new physicians
He cited an example of an Illinois hospital whose hospitalist program is managed by Eagle Hospital Physicians, an affiliate of LocumConnections. "Nurse-physician rounding has been successful there because patients see a team at work. It improves their confidence in the health care team, and that translates into a better patient experience, and greater satisfaction with the hospital."
The best news for locum physicians is that these new approaches make it easier for a new physician to make a smooth transition to a clinical team. "This focus on physicians working more closely with nurses and other members of the healthcare team helps locum physicians to adjust quickly to a new assignment, so there are benefits all around," said Dr. McCormick. "We look forward to discussing this and other issues with locum physicians attending the SHM meeting."
LocumConnections provides locum tenens physician (MD/DO) and physician extender (PA/NP) staffing to healthcare and hospital systems, practice management groups, and clinics. Because LocumConnections is built and led by physicians with a locum tenens background, the company is uniquely qualified to understand and solve the challenges faced by modern healthcare organizations. With a rapidly growing footprint in the Southeast, Midwest and Mid-Atlantic, LocumConnections continues to expand its services to meet the needs of doctors and hospitals across the United States. For more information visit www.locumconnections.com.