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Read http://ukhealthcare.uky.edu/open.aspx?id=3040 Part 1: As you see, there is a major new trend in American medicine—an entire new professional physician group known as “hospitalists.” Currently the American public has a very poor understanding of what a hospitalist is and what role he or she performs in patient care. Describe the role of the hospitalist today, and discuss some trends in this new profession.
A hospitalist is a physician who specializes in caring for patients within a hospital. Many times today when a patient enters a hospital, he or she is placed under the care of a hospitalist physician rather than continuing to be cared for by their regular physician. Instead, care is co-managed between these two (or more) physicians to provide for patient needs. Since hospitalists don’t have regular practice clinics or patient appointments outside of the hospital, they are able to provide care more frequently and to take a more active role in training and leadership at the hospital. Hospitalists are also the doctors that nearly always provide care to a patient overnight in a hospital, or for patients who are admitted directly to the hospital without a primary care doctor. When a patient is discharged from the hospital, a hospitalist also coordinates future care for the patient and then hands over care to the primary care doctor for follow-up. “Hospitalist” is a specialization that is rapidly growing, with the number of these physicians swelling from only 800 hospitalists in 1996 to about 15,000 today. Hospitalists are having an increasing role and impact in American medicine and the way in which care is provided in hospital settings, with a positive impact on patient care, satisfaction, and outcomes.
Part 2: Hospitalists are a rapidly growing new professional group in American medicine, and they are changing everything about how medicine is practiced in the inpatient setting. But is there any evidence to suggest that hospitalists are having a positive impact on hospital care? Report your findings.
Studies have shown that this collaboration, or the sharing of patient care between hospitalists and primary care physicians, actually results in shorter hospital stays and equal or better patient outcomes when compared to continuing care under only the primary physician. Hospital stays, in particular, averaged a day shorter in the patients cared for by the hospitalists in the study, 13.4% shorter on average. There were no negative effects like higher mortality or higher rates of readmissions between patients being cared for by hospitalists or under a traditional modality of care. In addition to the positive impact on patients, the use of hospitalists also reduced hospital costs by 13.4% on average, primarily because of the decrease in length of stay. These positive impacts by hospitalists can be attributed to the role that they play in the hospital, increasing patient visits and interactions because of their focus on care within the hospital, rather than having their time divided between office work and hospital rounds, and because of the larger role that they are able to play in education and leadership within the hospital administration. Specifically, studies have attributed the positive impact that hospitalists have on hospital care and patient outcomes to five components of the care given by these specialists. They are able to better collaborate with and perform team planning for patient care and treatment within a multidisciplinary group of doctors. Hospitalists also plan comprehensively, throughout the treatment of a patient, to facilitate and speed up discharge for their patients. They are also able to expedite patient discharge, and moreover follow this discharge in most cases by performing assessments of patient health even after they have been discharged. Finally, hospitalists perform home visits to ensure that patients are recovering from the illnesses or injuries that brought them into the hospital in the first place and to continue to facilitate care.
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