Published in the May 2013 issue of Today’s Hospitalist
SYNERGY SURGICALISTS is a brand new startup, a staffing company launched to help spread the hospitalist model to general and orthopedic surgery. The company was founded this year by three physicians who met in business school and decided to go out together on an entrepreneurial limb.
Both the CEO and the chief surgical officer are orthopedic surgeons. But filling the positions of COO and senior strategist is Julianna Lindsey, MD, MBA, who trained in internal medicine and has worked since 2002 as a hospitalist.
Does it make sense to have a medicine hospitalist deciding strategy for a surgicalist company? According to Dr. Lindsey, the position is a perfect fit.
“Scope creep for hospitalists has become a big problem.”
~ Julianna Lindsey, MD, MBA
“As a hospitalist, I have a very good handle on what goes on inside hospitals from the time patients hit the emergency department to the time they go home, something most surgeons have no appreciation of,” Dr. Lindsey says. “And most surgeons have not been involved in quality improvement from a systems standpoint at any point in their career, especially as a team member, so they definitely need someone to help bring that value piece to the table.”
And as a medicine hospitalist, Dr. Lindsey says she has a big stake clinically in seeing the surgicalist movement take hold.
“Scope creep for hospitalists has become a big problem, in my opinion,” she says. “More and more, we’re asked to admit surgical patients, which makes many of my colleagues uncomfortable because it leads to delays in care.” She has personally seen that result in “some very bad outcomes.”
Dr. Lindsey began her training with a surgical internship. She switched to internal medicine because none of the female surgical attendings she met had the balance of professional and family life that she wanted.
“If the surgicalist model had existed then, I would have definitely stuck with it,” she says. “The surgicalist model allows people to have both a meaningful personal and professional life.”
After residency, she worked within the VA for two years as an ED attending, then started working with TeamHealth when she and her family moved to Knoxville, Tenn., where she’s still based. She first set up an emergency physician group at a new hospital for the company, then began turning hospitalist programs around. She became a regional medical director in 2009 and finished her MBA “meeting the two other Synergy principals “in 2011.
“Building a business from the ground up, especially in a new market segment, is incredibly complex,” she says. “But I am ready for another challenge.”