The hospitalist as coordinator: an observational case study.
J Health Organ Manag. 2010;24(1):22-44
Authors: Burkhardt U, Erbsen A, RÃ¼diger-StÃ¼rchler M
PURPOSE: The hospitalist concept aims for integration and continuity of care in inpatient treatment. The purpose of this paper is to understand how the hospitalist function emerges and unfolds on wards. Therefore, the paper aims to focus on interaction patterns and the role of the hospitalist. DESIGN/METHODOLOGY/APPROACH: Building on methodological approaches in health care team research, this process-oriented case study used participatory observations and semi-structured interviews. Over a year, 14 observational days were conducted, simultaneously accompanying hospitalists, nurses and surgeons. Observational data illustrate the findings. FINDINGS: The hospitalist function was perceived to have a positive impact. He/she serves as an informal leader by taking up five interrelated, mostly coordinative roles, which help to cope with different organisational gaps. The interaction patterns are bilateral, ad hoc, reactive, repetitive and dependent on chance and people. Roles, tasks and responsibilities are continuously negotiated. RESEARCH LIMITATIONS/IMPLICATIONS: Hospitalist research should make use of the debate in health care team research about overlapping roles, tasks and responsibilities. Additionally, one could look at the origins behind the evolvement of interaction patterns and the hospitalist's roles. PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS: The sole creation of the hospitalist function is not sufficient to tap its full potential. Organisational issues concerning the interaction processes need to be addressed. In so doing, the professions' orientations must be taken into account. ORIGINALITY/VALUE: This paper addresses theoretical and methodological gaps in hospitalist research. Using a process-oriented qualitative design, the findings question the prominent stimulus-response assumption. The focus on the interplay of functions and the hospitalists' roles lead to a more comprehensive picture of the patient-related interaction processes.
PMID: 20429407 [PubMed - in process]