Geographical assignment of hospitalists in an urban teaching hospital: feasibility and impact on efficiency and provider satisfaction

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Article, Peer-reviewed

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To evaluate whether implementation of a geographic model of assigning hospitalists is feasible and sustainable in a large hospitalist program and assess its impact on provider satisfaction, perceived efficiency and patient outcomes.


Pre (3 months) - post (12 months) intervention study conducted from June 2014 through September 2015 at a tertiary care medical center with a large hospitalist program caring for patients scattered in 4 buildings and 16 floors. Hospitalists were assigned to a particular nursing unit (geographic assignment) with a goal of having over 80% of their assigned patients located on their assigned unit. Satisfaction and perceived efficiency were assessed through a survey administered before and after the intervention.


Geographic assignment percentage increased from an average of 60% in the pre-intervention period to 93% post-intervention. The number of hospitalists covering a 32 bed unit decreased from 8-10 pre to 2-3 post-intervention. A majority of physicians (87%) thought that geography had a positive impact on the overall quality of care. Respondents reported that they felt that geography increased time spent with patient/caregivers to discuss plan of care (p < 0.001); improved communication with nurses (p = 0.0009); and increased sense of teamwork with nurses/case managers (p < 0.001). Mean length of stay (4.54 vs 4.62 days), 30-day readmission rates (16.0% vs 16.6%) and patient satisfaction (79.9 vs 77.3) did not change significantly between the pre- and post-implementation period. The discharge before noon rate improved slightly (47.5% - 54.1%).


Implementation of a unit-based model in a large hospitalist program is feasible and sustainable with appropriate planning and support. The geographical model of care increased provider satisfaction and perceived efficiency; it also facilitated the implementation of other key interventions such as interdisciplinary rounds.