The Hospitalist Snapshot: From Then to Now
The hospitalist profession has grown exponentially within the last 25 years – from just a few hundred physicians who practiced hospital medicine in the 1990s to upwards of 60,000 today. Hospitalists, once thought as shift workers, are now an essential part of hospital medicine, and are indispensable to the health care arena.
According to the American College of Rheumatology, internal medicine physicians from the 1930s to the 1990s did approximately 40 percent of their work at the hospital, seeing on average, about 12 patients a day. By 1996, physicians began seeing fewer patients in the hospital, and patients became frustrated when their provider was frequently late to appointments. It became more difficult for physicians to practice both in their primary office, and the hospital setting at the same time. To address this, the hospitalist profession was born. Now, two and a half decades later, this career choice is one of the fastest growing types of medical specialties.
Since its inception, hospitalist medicine has grown to include recognition in the following ways:
- American Board of Hospital Medicine
- Society of Hospital Medicine
- Board Certification
- Fellow on Hospital Medicine designation
- Annual National Hospitalist Day
For patients who question whether their hospitalist is as qualified as their PCP, it’s important to note that hospitalists are trained specifically to handle complex cases that arise in the hospital setting. Hospitalists lead large teams and are responsible for properly communicating with nurses, providers, technicians, physician and occupational therapists, pharmacists, and many other medical operations staff members. They are a part of an important community of health professionals and keep things running efficiently. A few years ago, an article in JAMA Internal Medicine expressed that patients cared for by their PCP had longer hospital stays and were more likely to be discharged home. However, they were less likely to die within 30 days, compared to patients cared for by hospitalists or other generalists.
The field of hospital medicine seems to be one that is always in demand, unsaturated, and is projected to grow for years to come in most every size hospital, especially larger metropolitan areas. Additionally, as our health care system adjusts to new realities amid and post-covid, it is expected that the need for hospitalists as well as other specialists in the areas of infectious disease, emergency medicine, and pulmonary and critical care will continue to rise.
According to The Hospitalist, of hospitals with more than 200 beds, hospitalists practice in more than 80% of them, and in nearly every area of specialty. Hospitalists are dedicated clinicians that must possess tenacity, flexibility, cordiality, and determination. According to the Society of Hospital Medicine, they must also be experts at managing day-to-day care and providing prompt and complete attention to all patient care needs including diagnosis, treatment, and the performance of medical procedures within their scope of practice. Hospitalists also regularly conduct research and take part in the improvement of hospital and health care organizational performance.
Just think of where we’d be today if we were still practicing the old way of hospital medicine. We would likely see extreme physician burnout, as well as decreased job satisfaction, and poorer patient outcomes. Luckily, we can be thankful to have dedicated specialists today that enhance comprehensive patient care.
From working in the emergency room to performing elective surgical procedures, hospitalists are connoisseurs when it comes to caring for and navigating illnesses, emergencies, and disorders.
Learn More About Advanced Care Hospitalists (ACH)
ACH is a Lakeland-based hospitalist group providing comprehensive patient care in community hospitals across Central Florida. Our providers are highly skilled, board-certified internal medicine specialists who are available around-the-clock to meet the care needs of patients from hospital admission through discharge. Post-discharge from the hospital, we continue overseeing patient care for 30 days.
We’ve found that continued care coordination ensures more accurate medication reconciliation, improved compliance with discharge plans, better scheduling of follow-up visits, and fewer hospital readmissions. Our providers do everything in their power to make sure our patients receive the compassionate and comprehensive care they need to promote healing and prevent a second hospital admission.
For more information about our services and our practice, please contact Advanced Care Hospitalists at 863-816-5884 or fill out a contact form online.