HOSPITAL MEDICINE TODAY
Here’s a common scenario.
Someone in hospital medicine (perhaps an administrative team or physician) manually creates the patient assignment list each morning before rounds. The workload is distributed equally by giving each physician the same number of patients. Once completed, the list is distributed.
It all sounds very efficient and fair.
But it’s not.
NOT ALL PATIENTS ARE CREATED EQUAL
Some are just more complicated than others and take more time. As a result, it’s not unusual for rounding physicians to get busy and backed up. It’s also not unusual for a patient to be missed during the day because of a busy workload or for costs to be added because of additional tests or length-of-stays.
Some physicians try to fix the problem by personally manipulating the assignment process in their favor, which of course puts added stress on the person or group making the lists. Others just accept the inevitable and let their workload frustrations build up, which in turn contributes to their feelings of burnout.
NO CONTINUITY OF CARE
To compound the problem – the manual assignment process doesn’t lend itself well to matching up physicians with previous patients, despite the research strongly suggesting continuity of care improves both physician and patient satisfaction. It’s just too complicated to keep track of those connections.
The truth is — hospital medicine is ill-served by the current patient assignment process. Care is often compromised and nobody’s satisfied with the status quo.
Surely there must be a better way.