Home From The Editor The surging demand for hospitalists: when it’s better to just say “no”

The surging demand for hospitalists: when it’s better to just say “no”

November 2006

Published in the November 2006 issue of Today’s Hospitalist

One of the things I’ve always admired about hospitalists is their attitude toward work. As a group, hospitalists aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves, get their hands dirty and get the job done.

While that attitude has helped hospitalists cement their role as the go-to physicians in the hospital, it can lead to problems. This month’s cover story points to a possible trend in the making in which hospitalist groups are taking on more work than they can handle, with sometimes disastrous results.

It’s no secret that hospitalists often have a hard time saying “no” to requests from other physicians and hospital administrators. But with the list of those who want something from hospitalists growing every day, some worry that groups are overextending themselves and reaching a breaking point.

If these fears seem familiar, that’s because hospitalists have been down a similar road before. In the early days of the hospitalist movement, ambitious programs staffed by young physicians often bit off more than they could chew. When the problem of physician burnout reared its ugly head, programs learned that they had to scale back or risk losing their workforce.

Groups that have taken on more services than they can handle still risk burning out their physicians, but now they also risk alienating an expanding physician referral base that feels burned when a practice collapses. That’s what happened with the group profiled in our story, and it had lasting effects.

While growth is good, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. It’s something to think about the next time your group is asked to add a new service.

Edward Doyle
Editor and Publisher
Today’s Hospitalist