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Inpatient Costs Too High? Adjust Your Healthcare Relay Team

Published 11/30/2020


Kelsey-Seybold hospitalists coordinate care for hospitalized patients and ensure a smooth handoff back to the primary care physician (PCP) at discharge.

A relay race is mesmerizing to watch – and not because of the speed and power with which the athletes propel themselves toward the finish line. Rather, it’s due to the ease and precision with which they transfer the baton from runner to runner, which brings the team to victory. The care of that baton while it’s in the hands of the individual athlete and the transfer of that precious cargo is of greatest importance in a relay race.

Similarly, Kelsey-Seybold hospitalists work closely with Kelsey Plan patients, their family, and caregivers, while the patient is in the hospital to get them the care they need to go back home. But before those discharge papers are signed, a discharge care plan and an appointment with the patient’s primary care physician is scheduled to help ensure a smooth transition with the goal of the patient’s continuing recovery at home.

Because hospitals have their own hospitalist physicians, you may be wondering how a hospitalist from a provider group can make a difference in outcomes – and costs – for your members. The answer is found in the role provider group hospitalists play on the healthcare relay team.

At Kelsey-Seybold, the role our hospitalists play is vital. A provider group hospitalist is in a unique position to orchestrate the most effective care for hospitalized patients right from the start – often the most critical time of the patient’s stay.

When patients arrive at the hospital, they may not be able to breathe, may be in pain, or may have neurological issues. It is the hospitalist’s job to discern the most likely cause of that ailment and then consult a specialist, if needed, to contribute to the care of the patient in the hospital.

In this way, the hospitalist leads the hospital medical team in providing whatever care is needed for the patient – including imaging, diagnostics, and lab work – and can order treatments, consult with specialists, and prescribe medication. Hospitalists who work in a healthcare system like Kelsey-Seybold are also able to assess whether patients arriving in the emergency room truly need a hospital level of care.

To enable immediate coordination of care, Kelsey-Seybold hospitalists use Patient Ping, a system that alerts physician group hospitalists in real time when a Kelsey-Seybold patient arrives at the hospital emergency room. Because of this capability, patients are more likely to enjoy the benefits of continuous, coordinated care the duration of their inpatient experience.

And because Kelsey-Seybold hospitalists are part of an accountable care organization (ACO), this coordinated care approach gives the hospitalist direct access to the patient’s primary care physician. In fact, the Kelsey-Seybold hospitalist has access to the patient’s entire electronic medical record, which provides a wealth of information that can help the hospitalist in treating the patient.

In contrast, a hospitalist from the hospital system may not have access to a patient’s medical history. When this happens, the hospitalist is missing critical information, which could result in needless or duplicate testing for already diagnosed conditions, as well as poorer outcomes, even longer inpatient stays, and significantly higher costs.

As the patient nears discharge, Kelsey-Seybold hospitalists provide counseling to the patient, family members, and caregivers to help provide an effective transition into the home or post-acute environment. They organize follow-up care, seamlessly handing off the patient to the primary care physician or outpatient specialist on the healthcare relay team.

Hospitalists who are part of an accountable care organization like Kelsey-Seybold are uniquely positioned to provide such integral and coordinated care to patients when they need it most – all the while helping to mitigate avoidable costs.


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Author

Rupesh Nigam, MD, FACP,

Medical Director of Population Health and Associate Medical Director of Hospital Services