When was the last time you were admitted to the hospital? Did you notice your primary care physician did not visit you in the hospital? You did, however, have another physician called a “Hospitalist” who monitored and cared for you while you were an inpatient. Hospitalists belong to a growing community of physicians whose clinical practice is limited to the medical care of hospital inpatients. After being admitted by your primary or emergency physician, care is “handed off” to these inpatient physicians.
Let’s consider the pros and cons of Hospitalists. Hospitals claim hospitalists have reduced hospital length of stay, cost of hospitalization and readmission rates. Primary Care physicians are also able to maximize the number of patients they see in a day, therefore, increasing clinic/office revenue. In addition, patients are able to make appointments more readily since physicians are able to spend more time in the office (as inpatient visits take much time and effort).
On the other hand, having a hospitalist program tends to decrease the patient-physician relationship which some believe to be the core of good medical care. Your hospitalist may change to another mid stay. Having several physicians caring for a patient creates a chance for miscommunication and poor coordination, just the opposite of what good care is trying to achieve. Although hospitalists make other physician lives easier, care may become more fragmented.
Edwina Lee RN, MSN