How are Ob.Gyn. Hospitalists Different from General Ob.Gyns.?

The only difference between ob.gyn. hospitalists and general ob.gyns. is work location, right? We all undergo the same residency training, pass the same boards to become board certified, and you have to be a general ob.gyn. to become a hospitalist after all. So, in one sense, there are no differences.

In addition to clinical skills, however, hospitalists do differ. As I outlined in my column “Ob.Gyn. Hospitalist Character Traits,” a hospitalist must be a seasoned professional and a team player, be willing to serve, inspire trust, be a good communicator, and be trained and incentivized to implement system-wide improvements.

Along with character traits, it is generally acknowledged that ob.gyn. hospitalists possess a specific set of core competencies. I began trying to formally define these during my first American College [now American Congress] of Obstetricians and Gynecologists annual clinical meeting (ACM) clinical seminar in 2010.

Dr. Bob Fagnant expanded on the initial ideas in a presentation at the second Ob.Gyn. Hospitalists’ special interest group meeting at the 2011 ACOG ACM in Washington, D.C. His presentation was well received, drew much interest from a large audience, and has initiated discussion that continues. The Society of Ob.Gyn. Hospitalists (SOGH) also has dedicated itself to defining the core competencies, but as this is such a new model of ob.gyn. practice, there is much yet to be debated, and discussion should be expected and encouraged.

As stated above, the ideal hospitalist should be a seasoned professional. ObGynHospitalist.com employment surveys from the past 2 years showed that only 7% of ob.gyn. hospitalists started hospitalist work within 5 years of completing their residency. I think all of us agree that it is very difficult for a new residency graduate to acquire the skills and experience to step in and perform as a hospitalist. Not to say that it’s impossible, just very difficult in light of most residency volumes combined with residency hour restrictions.

One idea that I have heard several academic centers beginning to discuss is that of a fellowship for ob.gyn. hospitalists. Advanced training in a fellowship could provide more experience for new graduates, but it would be especially helpful for experienced, board-certified ob.gyn. hospitalists to hone not only their clinical skills, but also learn the administrative, simulation teaching, team leadership, and information management skills to take existing hospitalist programs from good to great and to start new programs at the highest skill level.

This idea is in its infancy and faces obstacles. Most experienced ob.gyns. may be unwilling to leave their current private practice positions and return to the lifestyle, hours, and, especially, the payoff of a fellow. However, there may be creative solutions similar to executive MBA programs, such as online learning, reviewing curricula designed by the academic center, and periodically traveling to the center for weekends or more prolonged times for the hands-on clinical training and experience portion over a year or two. Introduction of a new additional program needs to be handled carefully because such a program for hospitalists cannot reduce or take away from the clinical training experience of current residents and maternal-fetal medicine fellows.

Like the development of the core competencies necessary for ob.gyn. hospitalists, it will be fascinating to watch the development of academic programs for ob.gyn. hospitalist fellows. It will be exciting to see the first graduates and even more exciting to see the first board-certified ob.gyn. hospitalist in a new subspecialty. Will an old hospitalist like me get grandfathered in if I can pass the new (yet to be determined) American Board of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ board certification for ob.gyn. hospitalists?

We are lucky to have the SOGH in a position to hear discussion and debate and to advocate for commonly agreed-upon positions. There are so many questions to answer to define the difference between general ob.gyns. and hospitalist ob.gyns., but we are on the cusp of not an evolution in care for women in the hospital, but a revolution. The future is unknown, but the direction from the known is extremely positive. Not only is patient care becoming safer, but the system is becoming safer and more cost efficient while at the same time improving the lifestyle of the general ob.gyn. practitioner. This last sentence will be backed up by data and experience in the near future, I predict.

Originally posted JANUARY 18, 2013 on ehospitalistnews.com

OB Hospitalists + MFMs = Better Outcomes

It is a sad fact that not only are there are more and more high-risk pregnancies, but there are not enough maternal-fetal medicine [MFM] physicians to help care for them.

Some fellowship programs are emphasizing outpatient consultation and ultrasound rather than the critical care of the high-risk inpatient. There are not enough perinatologists to treat the growing number of elderly mothers and diabetics or to handle the increase in obese, hypertensive, and multiple gestation pregnancies.

Additionally, just like everyone else, maternal-fetal medicine physicians (MFMs) have the pressure of being in two places at once: the office and the hospital. Small group or solo practices feel this strain even more, and many times limit their practice to outpatient consultation only.

As most of us in the hospital trenches know, this MFM shortage can create the perfect storm for a very bad outcome. However, ob.gyn. hospitalists can step into this void.

In January 2012, ObGynHospitalist.com conducted the first survey to find out how ob.gyn. hospitalists and MFMs are working together. It revealed that more than 70% of ob.gyn. hospitalists work with high-risk patients, and the vast majority work with private-practice or hospital-employed MFM specialists, most often on a daily basis.

Another significant finding from the survey was that the majority of ob.gyn. hospitalist programs do not or rarely share patients with the local MFM(s). In the one-third of programs that always or mostly share patients, the ob.gyn. hospitalist is the assigned admitting physician half the time, a MFM is the assigned admitting physician 14% of the time, and 38% stated that it could be either.

Most shared patients are seen by either an ob.gyn. hospitalist or MFM(s). Ob.gyn. hospitalists perform floor rounds on shared patients 23% of the time, round together with a MFM(s) 12% of the time, and MFMs exclusively make floor rounds on only 10% of shared patients. Separate rounds are performed 24% of the time.
This partnership that is created between the MFM and the ob.gyn. hospitalist means that hospitalists can be MFM extenders, and high-risk patients can be given more immediate attention.

I was recruited by Dr. Reinaldo Acosta, a solo MFM who could only do outpatient consults and couldn’t take call until he started an ob.gyn. hospitalist program in Spokane, Wash., in 2007. The results were tremendous. The hospitalist took care of his inpatients, he could take call because he rarely had to come in at night, and he was usually not disturbed in the office. He was covered for vacations and several weekends a month by a locum, Dr. Jorge Talosa. Over 4 years, neonatal intensive care unit bed occupation numbers increased from 8,302 to 15,625, and Dr. Acosta created new sources of revenue for the hospital by increasing transports of very sick mothers and preterm deliveries. It also allowed the hospital to have both better safety and quality of service, because a board-certified ob.gyn. was present 24/7 to handle emergencies and support the private ob.gyns. and family practitioners.

This new model, where general ob.gyns. act as perinatology extenders, benefits everyone. It also addresses the shortage of MFMs as well as the increasing number of high-risk patients. As ob.gyn. hospitalists develop their clinical obstetric skills and experience, they may complement MFMs as the primary caregiver to high-risk women in the hospital. It will be interesting to see how this develops. Will the 4-year general ob.gyn. residency change? Will there be a special fellowship in ob.gyn. hospital medicine? Will there be a separate board certification?

Ob.gyn. hospitalists want to – and should – have a closer working relationship with their local MFMs. This isn’t just to increase and find new revenue for hospitals; it can benefit all obstetric patients, ob.gyn. hospitalists, and MFMs, as well as community obstetricians and the hospital’s obstetric service, too. The ObGynHospitalist.com [now ObGynHospitalistConsulting.com] survey results lend legitimacy to the relationship, but it’s up to the stakeholders to forge closer ties and adopt this new partnership model to improve high-risk patient care.

Originally posted JULY 25, 2012 on ehospitalistnews.com

Recipe for a Successful Ob.Gyn. Hospitalist Program

Soon after I became an ob.gyn. hospitalist, I became one of its biggest and most vocal proponents. I started a website, ObGynHospitalist.com [now ObGynHospitalistConsulting.com], set about learning and educating myself, and eventually became a consultant on establishing different ob.gyn. hospitalist programs around the country.

Through this experience, it quickly became clear which things worked well and which things did not. It also became immediately obvious that every hospital has different needs and problems, and every hospital needs a tailor-made ob.gyn. hospitalist. Fortunately, the hospitalist model is flexible and can adapt to each unique hospital setting.

In a fledgling subspecialty, with hospital corporations investing significant amounts of funding to start ob.gyn. hospitalist programs, there isn’t time (or money) to waste on pursuing the things that didn’t work. It is expected that, even though it’s a new program, it should work well almost immediately. Increased safety, better outcomes, and the elimination of unattended deliveries are immediate results when a program is implemented. What take longer to demonstrate are the benefits to the private obstetricians. But 3-6 months after a program starts, they become ob.gyn. hospitalists’ biggest supporters.

There are some basic ingredients I believe must be present in order to lessen the pain of implementing a new ob.gyn. hospitalist program and increase its chances of success.

Qualifications

Hiring the right people is always a challenge – in any industry. It can be even more so for ob.gyn. hospitalist recruitment. The standard is high: The ideal candidate must not only be board certified, but also a seasoned physician who can handle every true emergency, perform difficult operative deliveries, and counsel, advise, and teach older ob.gyns., family physicians, and midwives who may not be practicing up-to-date evidence-based medicine. This is not a job for a rookie.

Team Players

The team has to be compatible, flexible, and responsible – and egos must be left at the front door. Communication is vital: Smooth handoff rounds conveying all the necessary information are essential. The hospitalist also must have a personality that enables him or her to quickly bond with all patients and their families after handover. Additionally, scheduling needs to be fair and allow call dates to be traded to fit everyone’s schedule.

Service Orientation

Not only do the physicians need to keep their teammates and patients happy, they need to keep everyone happy. They need to look at systemwide improvements, listen to concerns, implement standardized protocols, and always encourage best practices. This is where customer service is imperative, and ob.gyn. hospitalists must go out of their way to ask nurses, staff, and physicians the question: “Is there anything I can do to help?”

Hospital Administration Support

Like all other internal medicine and pediatric hospitalist programs, ob.gyn. hospitalist programs need to be subsidized. It takes approximately $1.3-$1.7 million to start a program, and after a year, it is probably only bringing in about $1 million. The financial investment is worth it to the hospital because it results in better outcomes that lead to lower malpractice costs, as well as happier private physicians. Higher satisfaction in labor and delivery helps with recruitment and retention of nurses and physicians alike. It is also a marketable, competitive advantage that the hospital can use to attract more patients.

Whatever form a local ob.gyn. hospitalist program takes, these four common factors are essential to its foundation. The program must be flexible enough to meet unique local needs while still adhering to proven elements that ensure success.

Originally posted on JUNE 13, 2012 at ehospitalistnews.com