Medical Center-based physicians help streamline care and efficiency
CROWN POINT - What is billed as medicine’s fastest-growing specialty is taking root at Saint Anthony Medical Center.
Dr. Shoaib Rasheed, who is board-certified in internal medicine, has been hired to lead a staff of “hospitalists,’’ hospital-based doctors who are available to provide care for patients -- in lieu of primary physicians -- during their stay. The program, which is optional for those physicians, aims to streamline cost and service efficiency for hospitals and doctors and to provide patients increased care and attention.
Rasheed became a hospitalist (a termed coined in a New England Journal of Medicine article in 1996) in 2003. He received his doctor of medicine degree in Pakistan in 1990 and comes to Saint Anthony from a hospitalist program in Kansas City.
“We work as a team with the primary physician, if they choose to participate, and patients and their families, to provide the best care. Since we are always at the hospital and don’t have to make office calls, we can take more time with patients. Physicians can spend more time with patients at their offices and not have to worry about going back and forth to the hospital,” he said.
There were about 1,000 hospitalists nationwide in 1996, with projections of 30,000 next year.
Dr. John King, Saint Anthony Medical Center vice president of medical affairs, and Rasheed, say the program will be up to speed as soon as a sufficient number of hospitalists is hired. The goal is to have four and to further expand the program, depending on what King called, “supply and demand.” King said that in 1998, he explored the possibility of implementing the program, but found little interest from doctors.
“It went to the back burner for a while. Physicians then began to learn more about it and the idea became more active about a year ago. We surveyed the medical staff and 75 percent of those who responded said they favored the program,” King said.
As with any new plan, there are challenges, Rasheed and King agreed. Hospitalist patients sometimes express concern about why their regular doctor isn’t on hand.
”Some people have trouble at first with not having their doctor there, but once they get the good care, they don’t have a problem. We explain to them who we are and what we do,” Rasheed said, adding, “When they are released, they return to the care of their primary physician.”
King said hospitalists are “the captain of the ship” when patients are under their care, but cooperation at all levels is key.
“The hospitalist acts as the leader for a patient’s treatment. He checks and coordinates with physicians and specialists and takes care of patients as appropriate. Our goal is to include everybody and work as a team.”