Managed care and the increasing use of outpatient surgery have resulted in shorter hospital stays for many patients. But what happens to patients who are sicker and require more intense care?
At the John Dempsey Hospital, a group of six specially trained physicians known as hospitalists provide that care to those admitted as inpatients. Hospitalists are physicians who manage the inpatient care of general adult medicine patients referred to the hospital by primary care physicians.
“Our goal is to ensure consistent, high quality care to our patients during their stay in the hospital, and to coordinate any services they may need when they’re ready to go home,” says Dr. Steven Angus, head of the hospitalist program and an assistant professor of medicine. “As hospitalists, we are in the hospital all day, and are readily available to patients and their families.”
The program improves the quality of care delivered to patients, and patients are more satisfied with that care.
Continuity of care is improved since the patient’s primary care physician has a hands-on physician in the hospital as liaison. The hospitalist will work together with the referring primary care provider to ensure the best possible care is delivered.
At the time of admission, the hospitalist will call and inform the primary care provider of the admission, and will collect whatever information is necessary. The primary care provider is welcome to give the hospitalist a call at any time, and can always stop in to check on the patient or engage in a physician-to-physician consult. The hospitalist will also provide the primary care provider with periodic updates during the patient’s stay.
Upon discharge the hospitalist will call the primary care provider to give a detailed update, make follow-up appointments as necessary, and highlight any additional testing that may be required as an outpatient. A detailed summary of a patient’s stay will then be sent to the primary care physician.
Dr. Douglas D’Andrea, a physician in the hospitalist program, visits a patient at the John Dempsey Hospital. Hospitalists oversee the care of adult inpatients and work closely with primary care providers.
|Photo by Peter Morenus|
“Our community physicians have expressed satisfaction with our service, and we work hard to communicate the details of a hospitalization to the patient’s primary care physician,” says Dr. Adam Silverman, hospitalist and assistant professor of medicine. “It also tends to reduce the length of hospital stay for patients and reduce their overall hospital costs.”
Since the hospitalists are on the wards and floors treating patients throughout the day, it’s easier for them to follow-up on lab and x-ray results. Communication with patients and family members is also enhanced.
“By being more comfortable with the increasing complexity and acuity of the hospitalized medical patient, hospitalists can help patients move through the inpatient experience in an expedited manner,” says Silverman.
The six hospitalists are all board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Each hospitalist also plays a primary role in educating the medical house staff.
In addition to Angus and Silverman, hospitalists include Drs. Todd Bishop, Jeremy Breit, Douglas D’Andrea, and Wendy Miller, all assistant professors of medicine.