Home From The Editor Hospitalists as bean counters?

Hospitalists as bean counters?

February 2011

Published in the February 2011 issue of Today’s Hospitalist

How big of a role should hospitalists play in saving money for hospitals?

The hospitalist movement has always been based at least in part on the specialty’s ability to improve efficiency, from reducing length of stay to lowering the costs of care. But there are signs that hospital administrators may soon start pressing hospitalists to do more on the cost-savings front.

Two stories in this month’s issue provide what may be a preview of hospitalists’ expanding role in boosting their hospitals’ bottom line. Our coverage of gainsharing offers a look at how a groundbreaking experiment at New York’s Beth Israel Medical Center was able to simultaneously improve patient care and lower costs “and then share those savings with physicians.

These data are eye-opening because Medicare currently prohibits gainsharing, except in pilot projects like the one we profile. The CMS is likely to change its tune on gainsharing in the not-too-distant future, however, and hospitalists can expect to be at the fore of hospital efforts to save by streamlining care.

And while we’ve talked a lot about comanagement services over the years, one article in this month’s issue looks at a recent study, which found that hospitalists saved about $1,400 per patient admitted to their service. It’s the first study to prove that hospitalist comanagement saves money, and it’s likely to get the attention of hospital administrators.

Hospitalists have proven to be a resilient bunch, mastering everything from resource utilization to patient satisfaction surveys (or at least trying to). The question now is how well hospitalists will adapt to being asked to play an even bigger role in shoring up their hospitals’ financial health.

edoyleEdward Doyle
Editor & Publisher