Amit Vashist, MD, SFHM, is the senior vice president and chief clinical officer at Ballad Health, an integrated 21-hospital health system serving 29 counties of northeast Tennessee, southwest Virginia, northwest North Carolina, and southeast Kentucky.
Dr. Vashist, who is a member of the Hospitalist’s editorial advisory board, focuses on clinical quality and safety, value-based initiatives to improve quality while reducing cost of care, performance improvement, and oversight of the enterprise-wide clinical delivery of care. He also provides administrative oversight of the Ballad Health Clinical Council – a model of physician partnership for clinical transformation and outcomes improvement.
Dr. Vashist is a dual board-certified internist and psychiatrist and an avid proponent of initiatives aimed at promoting quality, improving safety, reducing cost, and minimizing variation in the delivery of patient care across diverse settings. His work has been instrumental in improving outcomes and reducing mortality in patients with sepsis, earning him several local, regional, and national awards, and his work in promoting a zero-harm culture at Ballad Health has been instrumental in significantly reducing hospital-acquired infections system wide.
Prior to transitioning into the role of the chief clinical officer, Dr. Vashist served as the chair of the Ballad Health Clinical Council and the system chair for Ballad Health’s hospitalist division running a group of over 130 hospitalists.
Why did you choose a career in medicine?
The ability to have a positive impact and help others. In addition, I love learning new information and skills, and medicine affords one the opportunity to be a lifelong learner.
What do you like most about working as a hospitalist?
The relatively fast-paced nature of the work and the ability to tie seemingly fragmented episodes of patient care together. I believe that no other specialty offers that 30,000-foot vantage view of things in clinical medicine.
What do you like the least?
The shift worker mindset emanating from the traditional and rigid 7-on, 7-off model. A sense of team can be lost in this model and, contrary to conventional thinking, this model can accelerate hospitalist burnout.
What’s the best advice you ever received?
“You’ve gotta learn to listen!”
What’s the worst advice you ever received?
“Don’t rock the boat.” I strongly believe that frequent disruption is required to change the established status quo.
What aspect of patient care is most challenging?
A perceived disruption in the continuity of care by virtue of a new hospitalist seeing those patients, and the challenge to build the same level of trust and comfort as the outgoing hospitalist. Superior models of care have developed over the years promoting a better continuity of care but this domain continues to pose a challenge to proponents of hospital medicine.
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in hospital medicine in your career?
Hospitalists being increasingly perceived as the “quarterbacks” and gatekeepers of quality, costs of care, and clinical outcomes in our hospitals and health care systems.