A doctor devoting their practice to the care of hospitalized patients is known as a hospitalist. According to the Society of Hospital Medicine, the definition of a hospitalist is as follows:
“Hospitalists are physicians whose primary professional focus is the general medical care of hospitalized patients. Their activities include patient care, teaching, research, and leadership related to Hospital Medicine.”
First used in a 1996 article published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the term “hospitalist” refers to doctors who care for hospitalized patients, exclusively. While the profession was obscure at the time of the article publication, in the last decade there has been a significant growth in the number of hospitalists.
Benefits of Having a Hospitalist
When a doctor devotes time and effort to the care of a hospitalized patient, the patient reaps the benefit. A hospitalist gains experience in the specific needs of the patient. Care is unique to the individual patient and the hospitalist is able to work as a liaison between hospital personnel, the patient’s primary care physician, and the patient to provide the best possible care.
Most of the day is spent in the hospital, and as a result, the hospitalist is readily available to the patient. Unlike primary care physicians who spend their day in an offsite clinical setting, the hospitalist is present in the hospital to oversee the needs and demands of specific patient care.
Quality improvement is one of the key benefits of having a hospitalist oversee care. Hospitalists are actively involved in the care processes from admittance to discharge, making sure the patient is properly cared for and unique needs are met.
The Relationship Between Your Primary Care Physician and the Hospitalist
The hospitalist and your doctor work closely together. The hospitalist is the accessible liaison between your doctor and the hospital. Your primary care doctor provides the hospitalist with your health and medical history and the two doctors discuss significant events, findings, and treatment plans.
Your primary care physician may ask the hospitalist to oversee your care while in the hospital, but may also return to discuss ongoing care with your hospitalist. Your primary care may stop in to see you at any time, as the two work closely together to ensure the best possible outcome for your hospital stay. Once discharged, the hospitalist relinquishes control of your care plan and the primary care physician steps back into the primary role as care provider.
Quality Improvement Programs for the Patient
Hospitalist-led quality care programs and quality improvement programs found in most hospitals benefit the patient. Some of these programs include standardizing the admission and discharge process by improving communication throughout. Effective protocol to improve communication processes is important in keeping the patient informed of their treatment and discharge care.
Other improvement programs and benefits for the patient may include:
- Medication reconciliation across the care spectrum
- Glycemic control and the reduction of hypoglycemia
- Community-acquired pneumonia care improvement
- On-call access, 24 hours a day, seven days a week
- Earlier discharge due to improved care
- Improvement of medical records due to detailed reports and immediate discharge summaries created by the hospitalist
For Hospitalist services, call Great Lakes Medicine Hospital Care Specialists at 586-731-8400 or talk with your Primary Care Physician. Great Lakes Medicine Hospital Care Specialists is located in Suite 340.