Physician Spotlight: Dr. Sangsoo Kim, Penn State Health 

Dr. Sangsoo Kim serves as a hospitalist at the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and as part of his duties, he is also regularly a provider with their Home Recovery Care program. The program offers hospital-level care to eligible patients in the comfort of their own homes, and Dr. Kim says he’s seen benefits to patients and providers alike. 

When he was initially introduced to the program, he explains that it was described as an opportunity to diversify his duties as a hospitalist. “I jumped on it, and I’ve never looked back,” he shares. “Multiple other hospitalists I work with have said that it has contributed to lessening their burnout.” 

There are many reasons for this, he notes. With Home Recovery Care, “I have a dedicated amount of time to give to a single patient, and I’m getting to know their social situation, so not just their medical background but also their socioeconomic factors. I think you really feel like you are practicing medicine to the ideals that you strove for when you went into medical school. It really brings me back to my roots. I’ve really enjoyed practicing this type of medicine.”   

In addition, he appreciates how the program is contributing to improving the big picture at a hospital level. “Nationally, we’re having a physician shortage. We don’t have enough doctors to supply the front lines.” With this program, “We’re taking on patients to help with the inpatient census. It’s also a different type of medicine we’re practicing. Patients speak to better satisfaction scores, less bounce backs to the hospital. We’re keeping them out of the hospital in the longer term.”   

Looking closer at social determinants of health 

Along with these notable positives for physicians, Dr. Kim is impressed with the positive impacts Home Recovery Care is bringing to its patients. One example of that is the impact on social determinants of health and ultimately on patient outcomes thanks to deeper insights. 

“We might have them on the perfect diet and treatment regimen in the hospital, but who knows what’s going on at home?” he explains. “It gives us insight into what’s going on at home and what we can do for the patient in their home setting, which I think is important and critical in keeping patients out of the hospital.” 

What’s more, “There are factors that prevent patients from keeping their follow-up appointments.” To help collaborate and solve those factors, “In the hospital, we try for the ideal of nurses and doctors talking to the patients at the bedside, so everyone knows the plan of care,” he explained, noting that meeting that goal in a hospital environment can be challenging — but the hospital at home model brings everyone together seamlessly. 

 “With the telehealth situation, they’re seeing the doctors, they have the plan of care right in front of them, and the nurse is right there, so there’s no question about what the plan of care is at all. And the best part is the family is usually there or involved in that care plan situation as well. So, everyone’s on the same page — no wonder our patient satisfaction rating is through the roof. “ 

That satisfaction, he says, is the best part of the program. “It’s so validating and reassuring to know that what you’re doing is actually making a difference.” 

Dr. Kim also feels that Home Recovery Care’s innovative nature helps support these positive impacts. “We’ve standardized best practices. If there’s room for improvement, we have a lot of flexibility to implement the change that leads to better results,” he says.  

Collaborative care that builds skillful clinicians 

Part of the success in accomplishing that, he adds, comes from the collaboration of the rest of the team working with the Home Recovery Care program. “I’ve really established a connection with them. It’s a very positive culture. I’m working closely with the nurses to really figure out and troubleshoot different things. You understand the nurse’s personality, the workflow they go through, and you work together — all for the patient’s benefit.”  

As he continues to cheer on the success and growth of Home Recovery Care, Dr. Kim says he’s found yet another plus to being involved with advanced care at home: the skills he’s developed as he interacts with its unconventional approach to care reach beyond Home Recovery Care itself. “The time I spend with the patients has also helped transform my direct care in the hospital. Home Recovery Care has given me the time to slow down a little bit and really connect with them about what’s going on. It translates to more time saved in the long run. The patients remember me because we connected.”   

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