“Hospitalists” Allow Physicians in Offices to Spend More Quality Time with Patients, Avoid Rushing to Hospitals

The American Medical Association reports that a growing number of physicians are choosing to be “hospitalists.” These doctors work in the hospital full time, while their colleagues provide care in local offices.

The advantage for the patient is that care is not disrupted when the doctor has to rush off to the hospital to attend to another patient there. Meanwhile, doctors don’t have to drive to hospitals, search through parking lots for a place to put their cars, then rush into a hospital to find a patient to provide care.

The hospitalist program seems to be an advantage to everyone involved. But hospitalists say physicians in each community need to be involved closely in determining how hospitalist programs are structured. They say physicians should decide how information will be communicated between settings, who will do what, how reimbursement will be handled and the protocols for certain procedures.

Hospitalist programs are expanding to include neurologists, orthopedic surgeons, pediatricians, general surgeons, obstetricians and other specialties. They provide emergency coverage, assist in the operating room and round on patients, but they do not have office-based practices. They are employed by hospitals or large groups, although some work independently.

According to the Society of Hospital Medicine, 34,799 physicians identified themselves as hospitalists in 2012. The organization does not break numbers down by specialty, but there are indications that specialist-hospitalists are growing more common.

Nearly 35,000 physicians identified themselves as hospitalists in 2012. Working with the hospitalist program, hospitals get the benefit of call coverage and closer alignment with physicians. Many physicians report that it may be easier to recruit an office-based physician to an area if there is a dependable hospitalist program. Specialist-hospitalists are being viewed in some quarters as a way to reduce readmissions as well as costs.

On the physician side, changes in medicine have made it less practical for doctors in some specialties to have both an office- and hospital-based practice.

Meanwhile, according to the AMA, all specialties have been affected by generational differences. This means younger physicians are putting a higher priority on work-life balance and are less willing to take calls in the local hospital. Resident work-hour restrictions also have created a need for other physicians to fill the gap.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling medical cases for more than 36 years for individuals and families in and around Chicago, Cook County, and surrounding areas, including Wheaton, West Chicago, Inverness, Des Plaines, Skokie, and Bolingbrook.

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