Just two decades ago, there was only a small handful of hospitalists working in the U.S. Now there are tens of thousands, providing value at busy big-city hospitals and their smaller, rural counterparts. There is little doubt that the hospitalist movement has had a profound impact on how healthcare services are delivered to patients. Most of that impact has been tremendously positive.
If you have received any kind of healthcare service in a hospital environment over the last few years, a hospitalist doctor was likely involved – either directly or indirectly. That is how important hospitalists are to the modern healthcare environment. To further illustrate their importance, here is a list of the top three ways hospitalist jobshave changed American healthcare:
1. More Attention Given to Patients
The traditional healthcare paradigm required primary care doctors to visit their patients when hospitalized. Anyone who spent time in a hospital in the 1960s and 70s can attest to the fact that primary care doctors would make their hospital rounds sometime between breakfast and the mid-morning coffee break. Patients came to expect a daily visit along with the doctor's encouragement to “get well soon.”
The reality of the 21st century is that primary care physicians no longer have that kind of time. As a result, patients can go days without seeing their doctors. But they are not left languishing when hospitalist doctors are available. Indeed, hospitalists provide the kind of attention that patients in hospitals used to receive from primary care physicians. Providing this attention improves a patient's outlook, promotes communication between patients and hospital staff, and generally provides better outcomes.
2. Providing More Specialized Care
The marching on of time has brought with it an endless array of new diseases and conditions that primary care physicians have to deal with on a daily basis. Most have trouble keeping up with both the demands of the local office and their hospitalized patients. And the less time they spend in the hospital, the less familiar they are with the types of care hospitals provide. Once again, hospitalist doctors have stepped up to fill in the gaps.
Patients subject to hospitalization are not dealing with minor health issues that can be handled in the local primary care office or neighborhood clinic. That means hospitalists do not have to spend a lot of time focused on those minor issues. This allows them to provide care by focusing on the types of diseases or injuries their specific department deals with. Such type care is more conducive to better outcomes.
3. Developing the Team Approach
The transition to team-focused medicine is inevitable - the transition must take place if we are to achieve the goal of providing value-based care while controlling prices. The hospitalist has been, and will continue to be, an integral part of the transition from individual treatment to the team approach.
By their nature, hospitalist jobs require doctors to work together with other team members to provide appropriate care. They must work with other specialists, nursing teams, locums, and patient advocates to ensure patients are well taken care of. The hospitalist who attempts to work as a Lone Ranger quickly finds him/herself unable to provide appropriate care.
There is little doubt that hospitalist jobs have changed the way healthcare services are delivered. They will continue to be a driving force in the evolution of American healthcare, as we work hard to guarantee access to affordable care while improving patient outcomes and satisfaction at the same time.