Local newspaper challenges shift to hospitalists at Florida health system

The editorial board of Naples Daily News wants Naples, Fla.-based NCH Healthcare System to pump the brakes on a new admissions policy in which hospitalists embedded in inpatient units are responsible for admitting patients and caring for them throughout their hospital stay.

The policy, which staff physicians unanimously oppose, would limit the ability of personal physicians to care for their patients at NCH hospitals, according to the editorial. Though the editorial does not condemn the policy, it notes several questions that need to be answered for staff physicians and patients. Among those are, "How much choice will patients have in choosing their hospitalists and can they change if they aren’t satisfied?" and, "If personal physicians aren't able to have a direct role in patient care at the hospital, will they lose all privileges to access NCH because of a supposed lack of activity there?"

An NCH factsheet about the care model says primary care physicians will still provide input into patient care, while hospitalists on the floor will enter orders and coordinate care. In September, NCH President and CEO Allen Weiss, MD, reported that a pilot version of the program reduced 30-day readmission rates from 11.4 percent to 3.7 percent in just 10 weeks, while improving the patient experience.

Despite these positive results, the Naples Daily News believes the backlash from physicians and patients needs to be addressed.

"[The NCH community board] should call a pause in the shift until the questions at hand can be more thoroughly addressed and understood by the community at large," the editors of the Naples Daily News wrote. "Toward that end, the Naples Daily News stands ready to facilitate public forums to better communicate what it all means."

Read the full editorial here.

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