Smaller Hospitals Reap the Benefits of a Dedicated Hospitalist Program

The Hospital Care Group (HCG) has been working with several smaller community hospitals to provide complete hospitalist coverage for their inpatients.  Although viewed as expensive propositions, HCG has developed several innovative hospital medicine models to reduce program costs and provide services in a high-quality AND high-value way.  Additionally, these smaller hospitals have seen significant increases in their inpatient revenues by the addition of a hospitalist program.  HCG’s actual experience shows these revenue increases come from two main sources – an increase in the number admissions from referring physicians and a decrease in the number of transfers out of the emergency department.  Recent data from one HCG contracted Hospital in Indiana, clearly shows this dynamic playing out.  In September, 2012, without a dedicated hospitalist program in place, the hospital had 39 inpatient admissions and 13 observation patients along with 76 transfers out of their ED.  With HCG stepping in and providing hospital medicine services beginning October 1, 2012, the hospital’s October numbers DOUBLED to 81 inpatient admissions, 24 observation patients, and only 53 ED transfers (a 30% reduction in ED transfers).  When examined more closely, it was found that this significant improvement was due in large part to the implementation of a dedicated hospitalist program whereby:

  • Area physicians felt more comfortable sending more patients to that hospital rather than tertiary centers because of the continuity of inpatient care and the round-the-clock coverage by HCG,
  • ED physicians felt more comfortable keeping more complex patients in house because of the high quality HCG hospitalists now there,
  • Nursing staff felt more comfortable caring for more complex patients because of the dedicated on-site coverage and phone availability of HCG hospitalists.

The bottom-line result was significantly more revenue for this hospital, which makes a hospitalist program move from a heavily subsidized program to an added-value service.  And given the trends in primary care recruitment, smaller hospitals with dedicated hospitalist programs that are cost-effective will reap the benefits from being able to recruit outpatient-only physicians to their communities.   

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phone:   260-344-4035