Pediatric hospitalists and primary care providers: a communication needs assessment

J Hosp Med. 2009 Mar;4(3):187-93. doi: 10.1002/jhm.456.


Background/objective: Existing research on hospitalist-primary care provider (PCP) communication focuses mainly on adult hospitalist models with little known about the quality of current pediatric hospitalist-PCP communication. Our objective was to perform a needs assessment by exploring important issues around communication between pediatric hospitalists and PCPs.

Methods: Six previously identified issues around hospitalist-PCP communication from the adult hospitalist literature were abstracted and incorporated into an open-ended and closed-ended questionnaire. The questionnaire was pretested, revised, and administered by phone to 10 pediatric hospitalists and 12 pediatric PCPs residing in our 5-state catchment area. Interviews were transcribed and openly coded, and themes compared using qualitative methods.

Results: The 6 identified issues were: quality of communication, barriers to communication, methods of information sharing, key data element requirements, critical timing, and perceived benefits. Hospitalists and PCPs rated overall quality of communication from "poor" to "very good." Both groups acknowledge that significant barriers to optimal communication currently exist, yet the barriers differ for each group. Hospitalists and PCPs agree on what information is important to transmit (diagnoses, medications, follow-up needs, and pending laboratory test results) and critical times for communication during the hospitalization (at discharge, admission, and during major clinical changes). Both groups also agree that optimal communication could improve many aspects of patient care.

Conclusions: Identifying and addressing barriers to these 6 issues may help both hospitalists and PCPs implement targeted interventions aimed at improving communication. Future studies will need to demonstrate the link between improved hospitalist-PCP communication and improved patient care and outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Communication*
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Hospitalists*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Needs Assessment*
  • Pediatrics*
  • Physicians, Family*
  • Utah