Hospitalists, the Fastest Growing Specialty, Meet Demands of Healthcare Reform

With 30,000 hospitalists in the United States, hospital medicine is the fastest growing medical specialty and it is expected to play an important role in healthcare reform, according to a report by the New York Times.

Under the new law, hospitals will be penalized for readmissions and medical errors, two problems that can be addressed by round-the-clock care by shifts of hospitalists.

While many hospitalist programs were started to contain costs, hospital executives are now more interested in using hospitalists to improve quality and patient coverage, according to a survey of C-Suite level executives at California hospitals, published in the Jan. 2010 issue of the Journal of Hospital Medicine.

The survey found that 57 percent expected their hospitalist program to grow during the next two years, and 44 percent of executives without hospitalist programs planned to start one within the next two years.

The percentage of internists practicing as hospitalists rose from 5.9 percent in 1995, when the term "hospitalist" as first used, to 19 percent in 2006, according to a March 2009 study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Now hospitalists are branching out into other specialties. A Feb. 2010 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that an increasing number of surgery patients are being co-managed by a surgeon and another clinician, such as a hospitalist. From 2001-2006, the last year surveyed, co-management rates rose more than 11 percent per year. Meanwhile, continued development of obstetric-gynecologic hospitalists was endorsed by a panel from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in June 2010.

A recent report in the Statesman Journal showed how hospitalists are improving care at Sacred Heart Medical Center in RiverBend, Ore. The patient's personal physician didn’t have time through most of the day to come to the hospital and check on patients. If the patient's medical condition changed, the physician had to stop seeing appointments and rush to the hospital. And when patients were ready for discharge, they often had to wait hours for their physician to sign the papers. None of this happens with hospitalists, the Statesman Journal said.

Read Becker's reports on hospitalists.

Markedly More Surgery Patients Now Co-Managed by hospitalists.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Endorses Specialized Obstetric Hospitalists



© Copyright ASC COMMUNICATIONS 2019. Interested in LINKING to or REPRINTING this content? View our policies by clicking here.

 

Top 40 Articles from the Past 6 Months