Hospitalists Use Teamwork to Provide Better Patient Care

December 1, 2008
Sean Johnson

Hospitalists can take a little pride in knowing that they are helping to deliver better patient outcomes and are practicing more efficiently than private practice physicians who are treating patients in hospitals.

Hospitalists can take a little pride in knowing that they are helping to deliver better patient outcomes and are practicing more efficiently than private practice physicians who are treating patients in hospitals. The Fall 2008 issue of Human Resource Management details a study that “measured performance outcomes in more than 6,000 cases at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Massachusetts between July 2001and July 2003.” During the study, approximately one-third of the patients in a given hospital were being treated by hospitalists, and the other two-thirds by private practice physicians. Among the findings, researchers reported that hospitalists, in comparison to their private practice counterparts:

- Decreased the length of the average patient stay by a day and a half.

- Reduced costs to the hospital by about $655 per patient.

- Reduced the risk of re-entry by patient treated by 41.8%

- Improved coordination of care by 13.2% by “increasing the strength of communication and relationships between physicians and other members of the care provider team.”

This study confirms the positive feedback that many hospitals who employ the hospitalist model of care have been receiving; it seems as though hospitalists are willing to work as leaders to provide the best possible care for patients by utilizing the strengths of their teams. “The role of the hospitalist was created to address the need for a physician dedicated to inpatient care, increasing both care quality and efficiency, as our study clearly illustrates," said Joe Miller, co-author of the study and executive advisor to the CEO for the Society of Hospital Medicine (SHM). “Physicians are expected to be at the center of patient care coordination. When the physician is maintaining a private practice and intermittently making hospital rounds, the care of the patient suffers.”

Perhaps this can explain why hospital medicine is the “fastest-growing medical specialty in the U.S., with over 20,000 hospitalists today and is projected to grow to about 30,000 by the end of the decade."