The Hospitalist Movement
According to the Society of Hospital Medicine, there are nearly 30,000 hospitalists practicing in the United States, a 14-fold increase since 1998. More physicians are partnering with hospitalists to manage the hour-to-hour care of their patients during hospital stays so they can focus exclusively on outpatient care. This fairly new relationship provides benefits for hospitals, physicians, and patients.
According to studies in The Journal of the American Medical Association, findings show that care by hospitalists result in shorter hospital stays and lower costs. Hospitals benefit from increased efficiency and higher patient turnover, patients spend less time in the hospital, and physicians have more time to dedicate to the ever-increasing demands of their outpatient practices.
Because of these astounding statistics, hospitalists are uniquely positioned to become key leaders within hospitals and health care systems. By providing direct care to large numbers of complex hospitalized patients, and through interaction with the personnel and processes involved in the delivery of patient care, hospitalists are situated to identify vulnerabilities, improve systems, engage in medical education, and develop research agendas that can transform hospitals and health care. In light of these contributions, hospitalists represent the fasting growing field in medicine and are increasingly relied upon to provide care to an expanding scope of patients, educate medical students and house staff, and contribute to hospital performance improvement initiatives.