For all the talk about the value of patient-centered care, many hospitalists still round on patients in a conference room or hallway. Mel L. Anderson, MD, FACP, takes a different approach at VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System, where hospitalists and nurses conduct daily rounds at the patient's bedside.
“Rounding at the bedside is an opportunity to combine patient care and teaching seamlessly,” said Dr. Anderson, who spent 4 years on active duty in the U.S. Air Force after completing his residency. “We can directly connect what's being reported about the patient with reality, take advantage of the teaching opportunities that come from the physical exam and educate our patients at the same time.”
Considered a national expert on bedside rounding, Dr. Anderson conducts faculty workshops at his own and other institutions. He tries to dispel the widespread perception that rounding at the bedside is impractical in a health care environment that stresses productivity and efficiency.
“In the 1960s, most rounds were conducted at the bedside but now it's under 20%,” he said. “We try to give hospitalists an approach and let them know it can be effective and even more efficient.”
Despite the conventional wisdom that rounding may take longer at the bedside than in a conference room, the bedside method can be as or more efficient overall, said Dr. Anderson. Typically, the physician obtains all needed information in one visit at the bedside and can start talking to the team about implementing a care plan immediately.