As a Hospitalist, the pandemic never stopped us from seeing our patients face to face, in fact, it only amplified it; but as the Chief Medical Officer for medaptus, the pandemic meant we didn’t get a chance to attend conferences, events, or meet with our customers face-to-face until now.
We had our first opportunity to speak face to face with Hospitalists, Physicians, and Industry Leaders at the Society of Hospital Medicine (SHM)’s Leadership Academy last week.
So, I’m home from the SHM Leadership Academy. And after a brief health issue (that has given me some very interesting perspectives on healthcare from the other side that we can discuss another time), I’ve been spending some time processing all that I learned while I was there. Now, unfortunately, I didn’t get to attend the sessions (since I was busy working the booth), but I did get to have some very meaningful interactions with my hospitalist colleagues.
The biggest thing that struck me was that the more things change, the more things stay the same. The hospitalists I spoke with are struggling with many of the same issues that have plagued me throughout my twenty-year career in hospital medicine. I heard all of the same stories about “making the list” – it takes too long to do, no one wants to do it, no one is happy with how it comes out, providers complain about which/how many patients they got, providers are pressuring their admins to change the list, the floors don’t know who owns which patients, the EHR doesn’t have the correct attending, the on-call hospitalist has a pager that’s blowing up with critical values since the lab doesn’t know whom to call, patients get missed altogether – and someone ends up having to pick them up later in the day, and on and on. If you’re a hospitalist, and especially if you’re a hospitalist leader, you’ve heard all of this and more. And this is why I go to these shows.
Most of my hospitalist colleagues don’t even know that there’s a solution to their problem. They just do the best they can with the tools they know about and don’t even realize that there’s a better way. Seeing someone’s eyes light up when they realize that there’s a solution to their problem is the best part of my day at these conferences, and I’m looking forward to it happening more. By the way, I wanted to relay one other story that I heard at the conference that perfectly encapsulates what it can be like to work as a hospitalist. This hospitalist (that I’ve known for years) was telling me about a program where the nurses couldn’t sort out which hospitalist had which patient. So, the solution they came up with was for there to be only one hospitalist pager. All the hospitalists carried the same pager number, and any time one of the nurses wanted a hospitalist, they would just page that one-pager. Then all of the hospitalists would see the page, and the correct one would answer it. So, you have a dozen providers being interrupted continuously with pages, 11 out of 12 of which are not even theirs! Imagine if you were a pilot trying to land an aircraft and you had to listen to the radio chatter from 11 other cockpits while you’re trying to concentrate and land your plane!
We are highly trained, highly skilled, and very expensive sources of much of what happens in the hospital, and yet we are often pulled into many different directions, making our workdays very hectic. You can broaden this metaphor as much as you like – we’ve all seen the mission creep that occurs – any time there’s a problem, hospitalists seem to be the answer. The only real solution is to make sure we communicate to hospital administrators, so they give us the time, space, and tools to do our jobs and provide the high level of care our patients deserve. (BTW, my colleague immediately embarked on fixing that pager process and things are much better now – it’s still not perfect, and they still don’t have all the tools they might need, but it’s moving in the right direction and the lives of the hospitalist team are much better).
This conference was very refreshing for myself and the medaptus team. We finally had the chance to speak in person on the issues us hospitalists see every day and discuss the opportunities for improvement. Our whole team at medaptus is looking forward to the opportunity to continue these conversations with our industry peers and provide the knowledge and expertise for creating automated and optimized workflows within their work environments.
Thank you to everyone that took the time to share their struggles and insights with us. We hope to speak with all of you again soon!
About the Author
Dr. Ryan Secan, MD, CMO & Practicing Hospitalist