A reader asked me for advice on starting a rural hospitalist medicine program
Do you have advice for a small rural hospital that wants to start a hospitalist program?
Because administration believes, and continues to believe that the only way to run a program is to look at physician billing as the only parameter to determine success or failure of a program. These are the programs which are based only on revenue generation targets and they will almost always fail because revenue comes at the expense of efficiency and value in every other aspect of the value tree.
The most successful hospitalist programs are those in which the administration understands the vast tentacles of value that hospitalists bring to their medical system, independent of physician billing. Tangible and intangible parameters that can make or break the fiscal health of the institution as a whole.
Many hospitalist programs are doomed to failure because administration fails to understand the dynamics of hospitalist medicine. They fail to staff appropriately. And when hospitalists leave for greener pastures, they are left with a high likelihood of burnout by those remaining.
Rural has it even harder because it is hard to staff. Nobody wants to do rural. Here's my advice
- Only administrations that appreciate physician billing as a small component of determining success of a program will survive. If your administration believes that physician billing is the most important sign of success and they make their decisions accordingly, the program is doomed to failure.
- Don't under staff. Many programs try to skimp by. When one doctor leaves (and they will), it puts the others on the road to burnout real quick. If you can't fully staff with enough physicians plus buffer for growing pains and the quitters, then start the program part time. Perhaps no weekends or no nights. Whatever, if you don't have enough physicians to run the program, it's doomed to failure from the start.
- Be flexible. The larger your pool of candidates, the more successful you will be in starting the program.
- Keep lines of communication open between doctors and administration. Hospitalist jobs are everywhere. Administration in rural America must understand that they don't run the show, the doctors do. Why? because the docs can leave and land a job just about anywhere they want. It's a buyers market for hospitalist medicine. It will be for quite some time. We are only getting started.
- You're going to have to pay more than you think. It's rural. And it's hospitalist. Think big. Also, according to the hosptialist salary surveys, the costs continue to accelerate.
See much more in my hospitalist resource center.