After a long, hectic day at the office, the last thing a lot of physicians want to do is be on call duty--an obligation Robert Blum, a pediatrician in Bingham Farms, Mich., recently told Medscape Today was "the worst part of practice."
According to the article, there are three major ways medical groups can reduce the burden of call coverage on individual doctors, as well as foster group harmony.
- Compensate extra time. Although taking hospital call was long considered "part of the job" of a physician, it's becoming increasingly common for groups to pay doctors extra to hold this responsibility. However, pay rates for compensating call coverage vary greatly among regions, and several methods for calculating call pay exist. For example, some practices offer a set stipend for taking call while others use a relative-value-unit-based system, Medscape reported.
- Delegate to hospitalists. Many physicians have relinquished call duty entirely to in-hospital doctors known as hospitalists. Potential drawbacks of the model, however, include not being present with a patient when he or she is sickest and potential conflicts or miscommunication between primary care doctors and hospitalists. One common bone of contention, for example, is a hospitalist's willingness (or lack thereof) to admit patients directly from the physician's office, according to a recent article from the Hospitalist.
- Use automated technology. Finally, some physicians have reported that using automated phone-messaging systems to communicate urgent patient needs have helped boost physician satisfaction and lower costs. From a liability standpoint, automated messaging is as safe as or safer than any other system because the alerts to the physician don't stop until the message is successfully delivered, attorney Eric Shore told Medscape.