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Hospitalist Program

Hospitalists: Partners in Excellent Care

In June 2021, DCH selected Capstone Health Services Foundation at the University of Alabama and IN Compass Health to jointly provide hospitalist medicine services at both DCH Regional Medical Center and Northport Medical Center. The two companies have created a combined entity, Capstone Hospitalist Group, to serve the needs of DCH and our patients. The new agreement began on Oct. 1, 2021, at Northport Medical Center and Nov. 1, 2021, at DCH Regional Medical Center.

This innovative partnership combines the strengths of the highly skilled health care providers at UA with those of IN Compass Health, a highly regarded physician staffing and management company based in Alpharetta, GA. IN Compass will provide operational oversight and expertise and will be responsible for day-to-day operations of the hospitalist program. They also will work with Capstone Health Services Foundation in the recruitment, selection and hiring of physicians. Capstone will employ the physicians who will work within the DCH hospitalist program.

Notably, both companies understand the importance of hiring the highest quality health care providers who are from or will live in the local communities where they work. Fortunately, Capstone already employs many exceptional local physicians who will be invited to continue to serve as hospitalists at DCH Regional Medical Center and Northport Medical Center through this partnership.

Following are some questions and answers related to the change.

Q: What is a hospitalist?

A: The term hospitalist was first coined in the mid-’90s, but the approach has been used by hospitals across the country for much longer than that. The American Board of Physician Specialists defines hospitalists as “… physicians who have dedicated their careers to hospitalized patients.” They are medical specialists who usually complete their residency in internal medicine or family medicine and then focus on providing care to hospital patients.

Q: Why are hospitalists needed?

A: It used to be that a primary care physician, such as a family medicine or internal medicine doctor, would manage a patient’s care in the clinic and in the hospital. Over time, several factors have pushed that model to change. Ever evolving medical record systems are allowing for greater connectivity between hospitals and clinics, which has increasingly provided more seamless transitions between inpatient and outpatient care.

The increased connectivity is good because there is a shortage of primary care providers in most areas of the country. This means primary care providers are much busier in their clinics and have less time to be able to visit patients in the hospital. Additionally, advances in treatments and technology have led to people living longer with chronic conditions, which means many patients tend to be sicker when they need hospital care.

Q: Can my primary care doctor see me in the hospital?

A: Hospitalist care is not designed to disrupt the relationship with your primary care doctor. While a primary care physician can visit and treat their patients in the hospital (if they have applied for and received hospital privileges), hospitalists usually become the primary provider for patients in the hospital and are responsible for coordinating care with specialists and hospital employees.

Q: Why is a hospitalist management company needed?

A: The highest performing hospitalist companies help create better integration and connectivity with community physicians. Additionally, a good hospitalist management company will bring insights and best practices gained from the best organizations around the country. The company will partner with the hospital to implement those learnings to increase the level of care provided. Partnering with one company that can staff both DCH Regional Medical Center and Northport Medical Center and manage the program at both campuses will help ensure quality, continuity and consistency of care, as the same providers, using the same care models, will be delivering care at both locations.

Q: Which hospitals are included?

A: Capstone Hospitalist Group will manage this service at both DCH Regional Medical Center and Northport Medical Center. DCH’s ultimate goal is to consistently achieve the highest levels of care at both campuses.

Q: How were the two companies chosen?

A: The selection was made after a rigorous evaluation process conducted by DCH with input from physicians from different specialties along with the help and expertise of PYA, a nationally recognized consulting group that specializes in coordinating the Request for Proposal (RFP) process and evaluating the responses.

The RFP selection process, is the best, fairest and most objective way to choose a hospitalist management company. The RFP was developed and interested groups were invited to submit proposals. PYA assisted with all components of the RFP and facilitated the decision-making process, for example, which included meetings with various physician and employee stakeholders to solicit their feedback and ensure their perspectives were reflected in the RFP and evaluation process.

Q: What is the timeline?

A: The new contract took effect Oct. 1 at Northport Medical Center and Nov. 1 at DCH Regional Medical Center. We have been working with Capstone Hospitalist Group to ensure a seamless transition.

At DCH, patients are the top priority. The choice of Capstone to provide hospitalist programs at both DCH Regional Medical Center and Northport Medical Center is the right thing for patients and the community we serve.