Home From The Editor Can groups find stability by changing their ways?

Can groups find stability by changing their ways?

February 2007

Published in the February 2007 issue of Today’s Hospitalist.

Hospital medicine has always been a specialty in flux, but there are signs a new wave of change may be sweeping through hospitalist groups. Not surprisingly, it’s being driven by the pressures of the job market.

As the lead story in this month’s Career Center (page 31) points out, hospitalist groups everywhere are reinventing themselves so they can be more competitive when it comes to recruiting. Faced with an almost insatiable demand for hospitalists, groups are changing the number of shifts their physicians work, the benefits they offer and their pay.

This may appear to be good news for physicians, but what does it mean for the groups that are changing their practices? As programs tailor the way they do business to suit their workforce, how will their overall operations-and performance-be affected?

You could argue that by boosting physician satisfaction, these groups have a better chance of retaining a more seasoned workforce, which would improve a group’s performance. While that’s a possibility, I wonder if hospitalist groups will find that modifying their models midstream may introduce instability at a time when they’re already vulnerable to the demands of physician recruiting.

Will groups that cut back on the number of shifts their physicians work, for instance, find themselves stretched so thin that they’re actually worse off? That could be a problem because so many hospitalists value stability-along with competitive pay and reasonable hours-as key factors in their decision to stay at a hospitalist practice. (For more on this topic, see this month’s cover story.)

The road to progress will always be marked by a certain amount of instability. The question is whether the changes that hospitalist groups are embracing will help-or hurt-their effort to attract and keep physicians.

Edward Doyle
Editor and Publisher