obgyn hospitalists

The ABCs of OBGYN Hospitalists

OBGYN hospitalists are generally board-certified obstetrician-gynecologists who focus their practice on hospitalized women and generally do not have an outpatient office. Hospitals hire them for several reasons but the most important is for safety. Especially in obstetrics, the clinical situation can change so rapidly that unless a physician is actually in labor and delivery to respond on an emergency basis there can be a bad outcome for mother or baby or both.

Just like the rapid penetration of internal medicine hospitalists, OBGYN hospitalist programs are spreading. Although a few programs have been around for many years, in 2007 there were only approximately 15 in the United States, and currently there are over 244 with two to six new programs starting up monthly. It certainly is not standard of care yet but I’m predicting it will become standard of care within three to five years. Some people use the word Laborist, but a better term is OBGYN hospitalist for those programs in which there is responsibility not only of labor and delivery, but also of gynecologic emergencies in the main ED (Emergency Department). OB hospitalists only stay in labor and delivery and the private OBGYNs staff the main ED.

Financially speaking, almost all programs lose money. Depending on the volume, that loss can be between $1-$200,000 or up to 1 million dollars. Roughly, a program costs $1.5 million and the income it generates can bring in $500-$750,000 a year. Hospitals with 2000 deliveries or more have a lower amount of loss. It is important to look at a wider budget rather than simply profit or loss because:

  1. Bad outcomes lead to malpractice costs
  2. Hospitalists can increase the volume of high-risk pregnancies that can help to fill up the neonatal ICU, which can be a profit center for hospital
  3. Retention and recruitment of not only physicians but of the expensive-to-train labor and delivery nurses

Many hospitals help pay for the program by transforming their outpatient OB triage areas into OB emergency department (OB ED). This increases the facility fee for evaluation substantially.

Many hospitals are facing the same problems:

  1. OBGYNs do not want to take call
  2. There are unassigned patients
  3. There may be midwives and family practitioners doing deliveries without backup
  4. No one wants to accept the transfer of high-risk patients
  5. Patients wait a long time for evaluation
  6. Maternal Fetal Medicine specialists want to do an outpatient practice only and not come to the hospital
  7. No one wants to do vaginal births after cesarean section (VBACs)
  8. The cesarean section rate is too high

An OBGYN hospitalist can help with all of these issues, making the private practitioners happy by taking the call, caring for the unassigned and high-risk patients, consulting for the family practitioners and midwives, evaluating patients promptly, working collaboratively with the MFM specialist, encouraging VBAC by taking responsibility while the private practitioners stay in their office, and studies prove that having professional full-time OBGYN hospitalists reduces the C-section rate.

There are no great downsides other than the direct costs to the hospital. Initially the private practitioners are skeptical, but within a few months they become the program’s biggest fans. Patients are satisfied and studies prove this. Nurses are supported and empowered. It can become a very important competitive advantage for a hospital that has a nearby competing hospital.

 

hospitalist jobs

12 Tips for OBGYN Hospitalist Job Contracts

1 The first tip is if you do not ask, then you will not get. Too many physicians accept the “standard” contract, sign it without a careful review, do not ask nor negotiate more favorable terms, and do not pay the $500-$1000 to have an attorney review it.

2 It is harder to get major changes in subsequent contracts then it is in the first one. But even in subsequent contracts, it is easy to ask for things like pay raises, more paid time off, more paid CME, and if on salary-to ask for fewer shifts per year. You will be surprised to find that the human resource people, or whoever reviews your contract, frequently will grant you these increases, BUT ONLY IF YOU ASK!

3 If your hospitalist group all have their contracts renew at once, it is worthwhile getting together to try and negotiate a better deal for all of you. You can share the cost of the attorney to review for you (and possibly negotiate for the group).

4 Compensation: Read the salary survey results in www.societyofobgynhospitalists.org . Have a good idea what other OB/GYN hospitalists are being paid in the geographical area. Just call them up and ask. Most colleagues will give you a general idea. After all, you would do the same for a newcomer, correct?

Most OB/GYN hospitalists get either hourly pay or salary for so many shifts per year with only the exceptional position also having productivity factored in. Beware “bonus” additions to salary—be sure they are easily obtainable (ask currently employed hospitalists if they have received their “bonuses”).

5 Watch out for restrictive covenants—how long and how large a geographical area (footprint)? Are they restricted to OB/GYN hospitalists versus general OB/GYN in private practice? Will you have to leave the area if this hospitalist job does not work out for you?

6 Malpractice insurance: Do not sign unless employer provides occurrence malpractice insurance or claims made with employer paying “tail coverage.” If you are working part-time and pay for your own malpractice insurance, ask for an increased hourly wage because the hospital (or employer) does not have that expense in your particular case.

7 Especially with your first contract, engage an attorney who concentrates his or her practice on physician employment agreements. Let them negotiate the deal for you without you alienating your future employers. You can let the attorney be the “bad guy.” You can just say, “I don’t understand this legal stuff,” or “My attorney is making me ask for…”

8 Ask for a sign-on bonus and/or ask for moving expenses (why not? They can just say no).

9 Negotiable costs: Employer paid CME, medical staff dues, DEA fees, transportation costs, and medical Society dues are all negotiable, while disability, health insurance, and retirement packages are generally less negotiable.

10 Other negotiable expenses: Payment of previous malpractice tail insurance, debt, and/or loans can sometimes be negotiated over years of service (generally at least three years).

11 Not-for-cause termination: 90 days is common; try for 120 days—the duration should be the same for both you and the hospital (employer).

12 If you are working for a staffing company, will there be “ownership” opportunities in the future-stock options, etc.?

Further resources:

As an independent contractor, I have been negotiating my own contracts for over eight years (using my accountant as an advisor) I have taken some of these ideas from a recent book I reviewed: The Final Hurdle: a Physician’s Guide to Negotiating the Fair Employment Agreement by Dennis Hursh, published 2012.

Also…

Information for Hospitalists on Legal Issues, Contracts, and Negotiation:

Click here to open webpage in new window

A sample hospitalist contract:

Click here to open PDF

I, of course, am not an attorney and I am not offering legal advice here or anywhere, but I have spoken to a lot of different OB/GYN hospitalists about their contracts and would be glad to share my experience if you would like to contact me.

Good luck in negotiating your own contracts!

Rob Olson, MD, FACOG

The Society of OB/GYN Hospitalists Takes Off

Did you know that the Society of OB/GYN Hospitalists is holding its second annual clinical meeting on Sept. 27-29, 2012, in Denver? Did you know that the Society of OB/GYN Hospitalists (SOGH) even existed? With more than 100 paid founding members, SOGH is not yet widely known within the ob.gyn. community; however, it did not emerge overnight.

Formally established in 2011, it came about due to a group of like-minded and dedicated ob.gyn. hospitalist volunteers who, like me, wanted to create a formal community that would address our specific needs, answer our particular questions, and reinforce, bolster and support our emerging position of influence in ob.gyn. hospital care.

With the concept of the “ob.gyn. hospitalist” widely embraced only since 2003, I wasn’t sure how many other physicians were practicing this model of ob.gyn. care. I was certain I wasn’t alone, so in 2008 I launched my website ObGynHospitalist.com [now obgynhospitalistconsulting.com] to make sure. It was a fairly “homemade” effort at first, but approximately 175 ob.gyn. hospitalists of varying descriptions joined my site in its first 2 years. I had gathered together a community of disconnected, somewhat frustrated, and often isolated hospitalists who were motivated to connect and exchange answers with one another.

As the number of members grew, and the website became the only professional resource for ob.gyn. hospitalists, there was increasing interest in getting together in person. In 2010, I requested that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) allow us to hold a Special Interest Group meeting at its annual clinical meeting (ACM) in San Francisco. I was thrilled that more than 75 people showed up and a lively discussion of hospitalist-specific issues clearly showed that there was a need for a more formal organization to be formed.

An organizational meeting was held in Denver in October 2010 with 17 people in attendance. A pivotal moment at that meeting was when Dr. Larry Wellikson, the Society of Hospital Medicine’s CEO, gave us invaluable advice on how to form a nonprofit medical society.

A second Special Interest Group meeting was held at the 2011 ACOG ACM in Washington, D.C. This provided the impetus and the volunteers to start organizing the society’s first ACM. In September 2011, it all came together. With 43 enthusiastic ob.gyn. hospitalists, generalists, and administrators in attendance, SOGH was officially born.

Cochaired by Dr. Karenmarie Meyer and myself, the conference covered a range of important clinical and business issues that affect ob.gyn. hospitalists. Presentations included best practices in obstetric triage and evidence-based cesarean section techniques. Data collection techniques, safety and malpractice issues, and ob.gyn. hospitalists’ core competencies also were discussed. The SOGH board of directors was elected. Volunteers signed up for four separate committees, and committee chairs were elected.

Following the ACM, The Doctors Company conducted a first-of-its-kind Obstetrical Emergency Simulation Workshop. One of the highlights was the attendance of Prof. Christopher B. Lynch, who flew in from the United Kingdom to personally demonstrate his B-Lynch suture. He will again be in attendance for the simulation workshop on Sept. 27, 2012.

Last month SOGH achieved another milestone with the launch of its website SocietyofOBGYNHospitalists.com, which is where you can find this year’s ACM schedule and registration form, as well as SOGH membership applications.

As SOGH’s outgoing founding president, I’m proud to have overseen its inception, birth, recognition as a nonprofit 503(c)3* organization, and the preparation for the second ACM. Dr. Meyer takes over as president after the ACM, and I look forward to watching it mature in the years to come.

Originally posted AUGUST 17, 2012 on ehospitalistnews.com

More Than Just a Job – My Job as an OBGYN Hospitalist

It’s bittersweet that this will be my last column, but I appreciate the opportunity that this news organization [ehospitalistnews.com] has given to me, and it’s been an honor to share my thoughts about the new ob.gyn. hospitalist model, how it is changing our profession, and the future that lies ahead.

This is an exciting time to be in this rapidly evolving field because this is a new way of delivering health care to women by utilizing board-certified ob.gyns. who are physically present in the hospital. Their presence has led to proven increases in patient safety, a demonstrable reduction in bad outcomes, as well as decreased malpractice costs.

Additionally, programs not only lead to increased lifestyle satisfaction for hospitalists, but contribute to reducing private ob.gyns.’ stress and conflict of needing to be in the office and the labor and delivery department.Although hospital administrators have to pay the considerable gap between the costs of these programs and the amount of billing provided to the hospital by the work the physician hospitalists perform, administrators also are very satisfied. This can be seen by the veritable explosion of new hospitalist programs across the United States. When I began my career as a hospitalist in 2007, I could only find 15 programs, and now there are 200 nationally.

If I speculate and try to imagine 3-5 years in the future, I think there will be ob.gyn. hospitalists in at least 75% of all hospitals delivering 2,000 or more babies per year. That means there will be at least 102 programs employing approximately 612 (6 × 102) hospitalists.

For those of you considering this opportunity, it is a chance to reduce your work hours by moving to hourly shifts instead of days in the office and nights on call. You can have a good salary while having a life outside of medicine as well. You can hone your clinical skills by concentrating on obstetrics and perhaps emergency gynecology cases as you learn to work in teams; implement systemwide improvement; and have a greater emphasis and potential impact on patient outcomes, satisfaction, and quality.

It is a profession and not just a job. It is one of which I’m proud and love to do. I am convinced that having ob.gyn. hospitalists makes it safer for women. It is an opportunity to get in at the ground floor and help influence our profession’s newest model of care that is changing women’s inpatient care in this country right now and for many years to come.

Originally posted JUNE 20, 2013 on ehospitalistnews.com

How are ObGyn Hospitalists Different from General ObGyns?

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 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. ObGynHospitalistConsulting.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 published JANUARY 18, 2013 for clinicalpsychiatrynews.com

Character Traits of an ObGyn Hospitalist

Through my experience as an ob.gyn. hospitalist, it quickly became clear which things work well and which things do not in an ob.gyn. hospitalist program.

Although internal medicine and pediatrics have been using the hospitalist model for quite some time, it is still a model in its infancy for ob.gyn. medicine. With hospitals investing significant amounts of funding to start ob.gyn. hospitalist programs, there is neither time nor money to waste on pursuing the things that don’t work. The expectation is that even though it’s a new program, it should work almost immediately.

Those who have been through the torturous process of establishing, integrating, and/or converting to any new program in any aspect of life know that this is a fairly unrealistic expectation. There are, however, some basic ingredients or attributes that I believe must be present to lessen the pain and increase an ob.gyn. hospitalist program’s chances of success.

The following are some qualities that should be considered when ob.gyn. hospitalist candidates are interviewed:

• A physician who is a seasoned professional. Finding and then hiring the right people are always challenges in any industry, but even more so for ob.gyn. hospitalist recruitment. The best candidates for ob.gyn. hospitalist jobs need to be seasoned board-certified physicians. Not only will they be involved in every true ob.gyn. emergency, but they must also be able to educate and hold their ground against other, sometimes older ob.gyns., family physicians, and midwives who may not be practicing the most up-to-date, evidence-based medicine. This is not a job for a beginner. Physicians with expert clinical skills are essential for a program’s success, as they are the first responders and must be able to deal with or assist in every situation that presents itself.

• A physician who is a team player. The team needs to be flexible and responsible. Smooth handoff rounds, conveying all necessary information, are essential. An outgoing physician needs to introduce the incoming physician to any active patients. Scheduling needs to be fair and allow call dates to be traded to fit everyone’s schedule. Obviously, team members won’t know if they will be compatible until they start working together, but hospitalists must be willing to leave their egos at the door to be “team players.”

• A doctor who is willing to serve. The private practitioner obstetrician needs to keep her own patient happy and safe, whereas ob.gyn. hospitalists need to keep all the patients and all the labor and delivery professionals (and sometimes the gynecology emergency department professionals) safe and happy. Ob.gyn. hospitalists need to go out of their way to ask nurses and physicians the question: Is there anything I can do to help?

One of the great things about being a hospitalist is that the work is so varied, but programs need hospitalists who are willing to help anyone who asks and are comfortable doing so – from the private practitioner who needs a quick ultrasound to determine position, to the OR tech who requires help moving a patient. Some physicians may think these tasks are just scut work, but they are essential to developing a safe, efficient high-reliability organization (HRO) that can avoid catastrophe in a real crisis or emergency.

• A physician who inspires trust. Hospitalists are consistently meeting patients for the first time. They won’t have developed a relationship with patients over the previous months of pregnancy, so ob.gyn. hospitalists need to be able to bond with them and their families quickly. For example, one of the tools I find to be effective when I deal with a mom who has experienced a failed home birth by a lay midwife is this simple phrase: “I know this is not what you planned, but I am so glad that you are here with us so we can take care of you.”

• A doctor who is a good communicator. Hospitalists need to be able to solve problems quickly by using tact, diplomacy, and professionalism at all times. Being involved with emergencies and bad outcomes, they need to be comfortable with debriefing the team and communicating sensitively with patients and families. Highly developed communication skills also extend to documenting the chart and liaising with an absent private practitioner, the nursing team, and the hospital’s administration.

I was one of the original ob.gyn. hospitalists at my community hospital in Bellingham, Wash. Having Dr. Chris Swain’s company, the OB Hospitalist Group, consult helped us to quickly establish a successful new program. Our team of four hospitalists is employed by St. Joseph’s Medical Center. It is a successful program that I’m proud to say encompasses these aforementioned ingredients: We smoothly integrate our scheduling and handoffs; the local obstetricians, family practitioners, and midwives trust us and appreciate our work; and we regularly foster open communication by attending the nurses’ handoff meetings as well as huddling with the anesthesiologist and nurse team leader.

Originally published SEPTEMBER 25, 2012 for ehospitalistnews.com

 

Leadership Role in Quality and Cost Control – Hospitalist Programs

When an ob.gyn. hospitalist program starts at a hospital, there is often a varying degree of distrust, resistance, and uncertainty about how hospitalists fit into the rhythm of the labor and delivery department.

In the initial stages, the ob.gyn. hospitalist may be relegated to the sidelines and just used in a limited capacity – for an emergency or for patients without a physician, for example.

In established programs, it can be the other end of the spectrum, as ob.gyn. hospitalists are looked to for oversight, leadership, and standardization, and provide these skills, often facilitating how the L&D department operates overall. They can evolve into the manager of labor and delivery rather than only providing coverage.

I was recently intrigued by an article in the New Yorker entitled, Big Med by Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon, writer, and public health researcher, in which he compares the operation of his local Cheesecake Factory restaurant to hospital medicine. He observes how, unlike in medicine, the Cheesecake Factory has figured out how to “deliver a range of services to millions of people at a reasonable cost and with a consistent level of quality.” Lamenting the current state of hospital care, Dr. Gawande rightly states: “Our costs are soaring, the service is typically mediocre, and the quality is unreliable.”

Dr. Gawande also points out that doctors are paid for services, not results. Unlike a restaurant, historically medicine is not service oriented. Medicine is becoming like a chain restaurant as large corporations transform it into a Southwest Airlines approach to health care – a high-quality, low-cost product.

We need to keep working toward what the Institute for Healthcare Improvement calls the Triple Aim which seeks to improve the patient experience of care (including quality and satisfaction); improve the health of populations; and reduce the per capita cost of health care.

We need to demonstrate our value by continuing to emphasize our commitment to safety and quality outcomes.

It is necessary to demonstrate that our commitment to safety and quality outcomes translates into real improvement as well as real patient satisfaction. This is going to require data collection as well as new skills and competencies on our part. Not only will we have to hone our clinical skills, but we will also have to step up as leaders to work with the other members of the health care team.

How do quality and cost control occur? Is it even possible to deliver high-quality yet low-cost hospital medicine? And who is actually in charge to help make this happen?

Change in the medical world does not happen quickly; however, the adoption of ob.gyn. hospitalists is one way hospitals can immediately start addressing these issues.

Ob.gyn. hospitalists can be used in a leadership role with responsibility for a patient’s overall care, medical costs, and results. The can coordinate who cares for the patient and how, help reduce costs in malpractice by being physically present in L&D to handle emergencies or other challenging situations, oversee collaboration on standardization to deliver consistency and best practice medicine, and ensure good patient outcomes through their presence, clinical skills, and experience.

The military uses the term C4 – command, control, coordination, and communication. Adapting this for the medical environment could look something like this:

 Oversight instead of command. This can be done by facilitating how the department runs, prioritizing and assigning assets, and being the diplomat and intermediary between hospital administration and L&D.

 Leadership instead of control. This is accomplished by instituting standardization, ensuring best practices, and facilitating policy integration to enable collaboration and consensus to achieve the best possible outcomes at the lowest cost.

 Coordination. The ob.gyn. hospitalist can coordinate between patients and their family physician, midwife, or obstetrician; coordinate between the private practitioner and the ob.gyn. hospitalist; and coordinate between nurses and physicians in L&D, and the patient during follow-up.

 Communication. The ob.gyn. hospitalist can work to ensure that everyone from the L&D floor to the hospital administrators knows what is going on all of the time.

It is fascinating to watch this process occur in real time and to be part of this transformation. There are so many different variations of how ob.gyn. hospitalists are used in different programs. However, I think this gradual shift from coverage only toward oversight, leadership, coordination, and communication is inevitable. Because this transformation makes common sense and because it leads to greater patient safety with better outcomes at the same time, it reduces stress and improves working lifestyles for the private ob.gyn. as well as family physicians, midwives, and the labor and delivery nurses.

Originally published OCTOBER 24, 2012 on ehospitalistnews.com and edermatologynews.com