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How to Maximize Efficiency as a Hospitalist?



The role of a hospitalist is a challenging one. Implementing structure, processes, attention to detail, and time management is critical for success. Poor organization can prompt mistakes that lead to dire consequences.

Efficiency and care quality go hand-in-hand in the medical profession. Here are practical guidelines for maximizing efficiency as a hospitalist.

Use the Right Tools

Investing in tools designed for your field and specialty can revolutionize your efficiency. Fortunately, cloud-based technology makes streamlined systems and data centralization more accessible than ever. These features are especially important to hospitalists who travel between facilities.

Research specialty-specific hospitalist billing software to simplify coding and claims submissions to ensure you get paid promptly for the work you do. These applications also offer features for accounts receivable (AR) management to support your team of one. Data metrics provide insights and opportunities for improvement so you can hone your approach.

Using a progress note generator can also help improve your point-of-care documentation and charting accuracy. While these apps were traditionally developed for psychiatrists and mental health professionals, hospitalists in all fields are now adopting this innovative technology.

Learn the Tools

It’s not uncommon for professionals in any industry to use the same tools for years and still not know everything they offer. You won’t find time to learn the nuances of your software; you have to make time.

Investing extra time in learning the full spectrum of your tools will save you time and money later. This dedication to improvement will also increase your ROI by unlocking additional opportunities for productivity and time management.

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Implement Time Management Systems

Systems and software are often used interchangeably. In this context, however, the term “systems” refers to routines, practices, and behaviors that promote productivity. Implementing these will help you create consistency and efficiency in your practice.

Start by auditing your existing workflow. Track how much time you spend preparing in the morning, speaking to patients, conversing with colleagues, and charting. Look for overarching trends of fluctuation and inconsistency.

Starting with an audit will help you determine your biggest challenges to overcome and your greatest opportunities for improvement. You may decide to engage in a time audit before investing in software to better define your needs.

Create a Pre-rounding Routine

Inefficiencies in medical practices have a trickle-down effect. Starting the day unprepared could make you five minutes late for your first few appointments, but that time adds up as the day goes on.

Implementing a pre-rounding routine can help you start your day on the right foot. Start early and look at any new patients that have been added to your caseload since you last checked in. Learning about these patients will take more time than updating your existing cases.

Next, review your existing patients and see if there are any notable changes. Consider adding a few bullet points to your notes as key reminders before your visit to minimize time spent flipping or scrolling through documents.

Next, set your priorities for the day. For example, you may choose to schedule discharge visits in the morning to clear up space for administrators to get more patients in. Conversely, you may determine that visiting time-heavy new admissions is a priority. This routine ultimately depends on your schedule and the needs of the medical facility.

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Use Batching

Whenever possible, batch-like tasks together. For example, visiting all discharged patients or new admissions sequentially. If you travel between floors or facilities, you may stick to one area before moving on to another.

Batching reduces time spent in transition. In addition to maximizing your time, unitasking also helps implement a strong flow state that keeps you focused and productive. Consider batching for hardness test for tablets.

Know Your Consultants and Colleagues

Getting to know the other care providers on your team is a must for maximizing efficiency. As a hospitalist, you may only spend moments with a patient. Conversely, nurses and residents may engage with your patients multiple times between your visits.

Getting to know your team will help you build trust and empower them to share insights and make decisions. It also presents an opportunity to delegate.

For example, suppose you have a patient who has several questions come up over the course of the day. Rather than popping in several times to answer the individual questions, you could pass the information along via the resident or nurse on their case. Conversely, you can empower your colleagues to ask what the question is and answer to the best of their ability.

Facilitating communication and asking the team for insights will also streamline the decision-making process. Ask everyone to share their thoughts on a patient, potential barriers they foresee, and solutions they’d consider. If their expert opinion is aligned with your understanding, you’ve saved time.

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Incorporate Point-of-Care Documentation

Point-of-care documentation isn’t just about the tools; it’s about the practice. This approach to charting includes taking notes during the visit rather than waiting until after. It requires a balanced approach to be successful.

The biggest challenge with point-of-care documentation is maintaining a connection with the patient. Your notes shouldn’t be the sole focus of your visit. Take the time to make eye contact and ask a few questions. Jot notes throughout and elaborate on them at the end of the session while including the patient in the summary.

Patients are more comfortable with computers and tablets being present in appointments than in the past. However, it’s essential to manage expectations and gauge the individual’s openness as you take notes. If your tablet seems distracting or intrusive, set it aside.

Schedule an End-of-Day Insight

The steps you take today will set you up for success tomorrow. Set aside time at the end of every day for a full review of your notes, progress, and schedule for tomorrow. Elaborate on any charts or patient updates that require more clarity or context. Reflect on what went well and what you can do better.

This process is also beneficial for stress management and work-life balance for internists— a difficult balance to strike.

Final Thoughts

By implementing these tools, processes, and systems, you can maximize your efficiency as a hospitalist. These steps will help you provide better care, increase your caseload, and improve your billings.

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