Gardner says the partnership helped save an estimated two years of effort to develop an in-house program. SSM St. Mary's did not have an established structure for billing and administering hospitalists in an in-house program, and didn't have an experienced hospitalist who could serve as its head. He says the contract, as written, allows time for St. Mary's hospitalists who have an interest in the teaching component of the hospital to do that.
"The business component is taken care of by an experienced organization, and academic hospitalists are able to provide a careful intellectual approach to patient care that included the ability to educate residents," he says.
For smaller hospitals, contracts with hospitalist companies, which are typically three to seven years in length, free the hospital from the onerous tasks of hiring for and managing such a program. Could they cause problems on the back end, when contracts need to be renegotiated? Perhaps, but there is fierce competition in the space.
"The contracts with IPC include certain protections that allow us the opportunity to retain our key academic hospitalists should there be any disruption in the relationship with IPC," Gardner says, adding that IPC recognizes "the importance of that type of protection to the residency program."