Each medical specialty delivers its own distinct value, and all deserve to be celebrated. It just so happens that today (March 5) is the day officially designated to recognize my specialty: hospital medicine.
Hospitalists direct a patient’s care during hospitalization. They are responsible for optimizing the quality of care for each patient, ensuring care efficiency, coordinating with hospital care teams across various specialties, and transitioning patients to the providers that assume care post-discharge. In short, hospitalists play a vital role in caring for hospitalized patients. I became one for just that reason.
Unfortunately, hospitalists also have frequently been the “guinea pigs” for inpatient electronic health records (EHR) system. That’s because, as hospital employees, they have no choice but to use the systems installed there; you might say they are a “captive audience.”
Across the U.S., some 60,000 hospitalists spend many of their working hours (not to mention “pajama time”) within the EHR inputting data to meet the significant administrative requirements of their jobs. Over the past decade, the administrative burden on hospitalists has increased dramatically, in part due to the promulgation of EHRs. The growing emphasis on detailed documentation, both for clinical and billing purposes, also increases the administrative burden on physicians; again, hospitalists bear the brunt of this, because they see upwards of 15 patients a day within the facility.
It stands to reason, then, that hospitalists have a compelling vested interest in optimizing EHRs to streamline physician workflow and the physician user experience. As the heaviest users of the EHR, they often are in the best position to assess how supportive or distracting the system is, how it impacts their ability to deliver optimal patient care, and how it contributes to (or mitigates) physician burnout. Some have become power users of these systems, which makes them a valuable resource for other providers at their facility, as well as vital partners with vendors, IT professionals and clinical informaticists seeking to make IT systems better clinical support tools for physicians.
We at PatientKeeper do what we do in service to hospitalists and other physicians, who only want to provide the best patient care possible, as efficiently and effectively as possible; and we are indebted to providers at our customer sites for their partnership.
So happy National Hospitalist Day to all my hospitalist peers. Thanks for your dedication to providing the best care to the sickest patients, with professionalism and compassion, at hospitals and post-acute facilities everywhere.