What are hospitalists? | BEST Magazine - August 2020

Thursday, September 10, 2020
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Infirmary Health hospitalists are an integrated team, providing patients with comprehensive care while inside the hospital. Infirmary Health’s electronic medical record allows the hospitalists to see all of the medical history of patients who see other Infirmary Health physicians in a clinic setting, whether it be a specialist or primary care doctor.
 
What are hospitalists?
Hospitalists are physicians who specialize in the general medical care of hospitalized patients. Infirmary Health’s hospitalists operate as a large group practice to provide inpatient services to children and/or adults. Most are trained in general internal medicine. Once patients are admitted, the hospitalist takes on responsibility for their care for the entirety of the patients’ stay.'Although you may not be familiar with the term hospitalist, the field has more than 50,000 physicians. That is substantially larger than any subspecialty of internal medicine and about the same size as pediatrics. Approximately 75 percent of U.S. hospitals now have hospitalists. The hospitalist role is based on the concept that the more experience a physician has with in-hospital care, the better the quality of care. Research has proven this to be true. Evidence shows that hospitalists may help reduce costs and enhance patient satisfaction. And they do not have to juggle a busy office schedule with hospital rounds. The hospital is, in effect, their office. This often results in shorter hospital stays because hospitalists are on hand full-time to perform medical procedures, design treatment plans and other duties. 

Working with your personal physician
In addition to the benefits they provide in the hospital setting, hospitalists can also improve the productivity in physicians’ offices. Office-based physicians who work with hospitalists do not have to make frequent trips to the hospital, so they can instead concentrate more fully on their office appointments and calls. Patients who may be a little uncomfortable at the prospect of seeing a different doctor while they are in the hospital can rest assured: Their personal physician will not be kept out of the loop. Hospitalists inform patients’ personal physicians of all major decisions made in the hospital and send them complete discharge summaries. While the idea of hospitalists may be new to you, keep an open mind. These trained physicians are a fantastic resource and will dedicate their time to reducing the confusion of your hospital stay and guiding you through treatment.
Wendell Erdman, M.D., is the medical director of the Infirmary Health Hospitalists program and has served as a leader throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you to Dr. Erdman and all the caregivers who continue to go above and beyond for our patients.