Coordinating Care Through Physician Outsourcing
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“We’ve seen an immediate reduction in length of stay, and we’ve seen good coverage by physicians, which had been an issue in the past,” Suver says. The hospital and TeamHealth have a contract that renews annually, which provides protection from long-term commitments. In core measures, Ridgecrest has seen improvement in all categories and “marked improvement” in patient satisfaction and “almost a 0.8-day reduction in length of stay,” he says.
Ellen Wilhoit, chief administrative officer for LeConte Medical Center in Sevierville, TN, says the collaborative relationship between doctors inside and outside the hospital has improved since the hospital hired a national outsourced hospitalist group five years ago. With a new replacement hospital set to open this month, Wilhoit is confident she has the right structures in place for the collaboration in patient care that’s called for under health reform legislation.
It’s part of what convinced parent Covenant Health to invest $115 million in the new LeConte, which also includes a cancer center for the sole community provider.
Like Suver, Wilhoit tried an in-house solution for hospitalists, but ultimately, the physicians involved—mostly local independents—suggested the burden was becoming too much for them, and that it would be wise to consider outsourcing.
“The community started growing so rapidly that they had to devote more time to their personal practices,” she says. “Another reason we needed to outsource is that so many of the local physicians are involved in the community. They needed this to help maintain their quality of life.”
The decision has allowed Wilhoit, a nurse by training, to focus on creating multidisciplinary teams to discuss and recommend ways to improve patient flow and quality of care.
“Every member of the care team gets to provide input into the needs of that specific patient,” she says.
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