A Hospitalist is a physician who devotes all or most of his or her clinical time to the care of hospitalized patients. Hospitalists focus around the site of care, which is the hospital, unlike cardiology, that focuses on a single organ and oncology that focuses on disease, for example. Hospitalists help manage patient care in the hospital. They see patients on admission to the inpatient wards, discharge and coordinate care for them even after being hospitalized.
Hospitalist programs benefit the patient, physicians, and the hospital:
Hospitalists are often much more familiar with the hospital and its systems and functions. Because the hospital is the primary site of their practice, many Hospitalists do not have any outside practices and focuses to take them away from the hospital. Because of this, hospitalists are able to take care and have more time for hospital patients. Hospitalists consult with and communicate with the primary care physicians regularly to better care for the patient’s overall needs. The Hospitalists are, in essence, the physician’s partners here in the hospital.
Having a Hospitalist on staff 24-hours-a-day speeds the admissions and discharge process for patients, so patients benefit from being able to move to the recovery process faster without sacrificing the quality of care they receive. National studies have found that after being taken care of by Hospitalists, patients most often prefer the Hospitalist concept rather than wanting their own doctor to take care of them during their stay in the hospital. The Hospitalist is always in the hospital and is readily available for the patient’s needs. Hospitalists are able to answer questions from both the families and the patients when they occur.
For physicians, the Hospitalist program enables regular healthcare physicians to concentrate in their medical practice. This also allows them to improve their skills and it enables them to use their time more efficiently. The Hospitalist system eliminates or at least decreases the on-call responsibility of primary healthcare physicians on patients who are not yet assigned to a physician, allowing physicians to spend more time in their practice seeing their patients.
Hospitals also benefit from Hospitalist programs. This is because it actually reduces the patient’s average length of stay and the associated hospital costs. The Hospitalist program can decrease the number of admissions that are inappropriate and the number of days denied for insurance coverage. A Hospitalist program also provides satisfaction ratings for the patient and the family and it also improves relationships between the physician and the patient.
Who follows up?
Usually the only time you would be seen by the Hospitalist is during your hospital stay. Most do not provide follow-up care or have their own practice. The Hospitalist communicates regularly with your primary care physician during your stay in the hospital and coordinates your after-care as required. You will follow up with your regular primary care physician who will be fully informed of your hospital stay.