Study Finds More Internists Are Opting to Become Hospitalists

According to a study in the March 12 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, general internists who went on to become hospitalists tripled between 1995 and 2006.

According to a study in the March 12 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, general internists who went on to become hospitalists tripled between 1995 and 2006. The study “also said the percentage of all claims for inpatient care by hospitalists had expanded from 9.1% in 1995 to 37.1% in 2006.” Hospitalists were defined as “general internists who derived 90% or more of their Medicare claims for evaluation-and-management services from the care of hospitalized patients,” and, based on this criteria, researchers “calculated the percentage of all inpatient Medicare services provided by hospitalists and identified patient and hospital characteristics associated with the receipt of hospitalist services.”

Study authors also reported that the odds of receiving care from a hospitalist increased by 29.2% per year between 1997 and 2006, with “marked geographic variation in the rates of care provided by hospitalists, with rates of more than 70% in some hospital-referral regions.”

Yong-Fang Kuo, PhD, the study's lead author and associate professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, said that “Traditional, office-based general internists' admissions have probably become less because they know there are more hospitalists available. For some doctors, it's more efficient to let hospitalists care for those patients.” Because of the trend, Kuo also noted that cooperation between primary care physicians and hospitalists is now more important than ever. “Continuity of care may be a problem," said Kuo. “Unless the PCP shares the information on the patient's chart with hospitalists, that relationship between the doctor and their patient would be broken.” For more information, read the online New England Journal of Medicine abstract

.