With the cost of Hospitalist programs rising, medical centers and hospitalist companies understandably emphasize the need for improvements in hospitalist productivity. While solid productivity is a desired outcome, the “law of diminishing returns” will eventually manifest itself. At a certain point (which varies among individual hospitalists, programs, and hospitalist companies) higher patient workload begins to work against other important initiatives. The chart below illustrates this phenomenon:
It needs to be emphasized that 18 patient encounters at one facility are not necessarily equivalent to 18 patient encounters at another facility. Not all hospitalists are the same, not all patients are the same, not all medical centers are the same, and not all programs are operated in a similar fashion. Each Hospitalist Program must determine optimal workload for itself, for its hospitalists, for its patient population, and for its host facility.
Finally, hospitalist medicine is in one sense of the word a “team sport”. Hospitalist Programs and Hospitalist Companies must meet daily workload challenges while keeping optimal workload targets squarely in focus. Achieving this balance may be the greatest challenge facing hospitalist programs and hospitalist companies, as well as their most important pursuit.