Hospitalists a growing trend in American medicine
Friday, Jul 6, 2012
If you are admitted to the hospital, chances are you will see a hospitalist as more and more primary care physicians across the country are choosing the services of a hospitalist for their hospitalized patients.
And the reason is simple: as our population ages, more and more patients are being hospitalized and putting an enormous load on primary care physicians who are continually challenged with the increasing demands on their time. They are then faced with the challenge of balancing time in their office seeing patients, caring for their hospitalized patients, and last but certainly not least, spending time with their families.
Have you ever had an appointment with your doctor and had your appointment delayed because he or she had to run over to the hospital to take care of patient who needed hospitalization? Or have you been in the hospital waiting to see your doctor while he or she finished seeing office patients?
With the advent of hospitalists, primary care physicians now have an option that helps with that balancing act while still providing high quality patient care. Because primary care physicians are able to utilize hospitalists to see their patients in the hospital, they are able to provide patients in their office with timely and efficient care, and they are able to provide their hospitalized patients with dedicated, in-hospital physicians who are highly specialized in hospital care and who are in the hospital 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
What exactly is a hospitalist? A hospitalist is a physician who specializes in the care of patients in the hospital. They are a very important part of the hospital team in addition to other specialist physicians who are on staff at the hospital. Hospitalists complete medical school and usually specialize in internal medicine, family practice or pediatrics. They have simply chosen to work in the hospital rather than in an office seeing patients on an outpatient basis. Hospital medicine, like emergency medicine, is a specialty organized around a site of care (the hospital) rather than an organ of the body (like cardiology) or a disease (like oncology).
In the Upper Cumberland region, several hospitals, including Cookeville Regional Medical Center, have developed hospitalist programs to serve patients. Patients will find that it is reassuring to have access to a physician in the hospital 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They are available to answer questions, talk with your family, coordinate care with specialists and nurses and deal with issues as they arise. They also provide follow-up with your primary care physician so that he or she is familiar with your hospitalization and the details involved in your care. While hospitalists are generally new to the region in other hospitals, CRMC has had a hospitalist service in place for more than 10 years.
Totaling just more than 8,000 nationwide in 2003, hospitalists have now grown to more than 12,000 with projections showing that number growing to 30,000 within the next decade according to the Society of Hospital Medicine.
Melahn Finley is the director of marketing and public relations at Cookeville Regional Medical Center. She can be reached at (931) 783-2629 or MFinley@crmchealth.org.