A “hospitalist” is the new medical position that you have probably never heard of, and for good reason – hospitalists are a growing part of the care structure of large hospitals and academic medical centers like UK Healthcare. Hospitalists are a legion of more than 50,000 strong across the U.S.
The definition of a ‘Hospitalist’ is “a physician who specializes in the practice of hospital medicine.” In practice, hospitalists see patients throughout their stay in the hospital, until they get discharged, and the hospitalist coordinates care with the necessary outpatient physicians. The goal of the hospitalist is to reduce the number of re-admitted patients hospitals experience – increasing their care-efficiency ratings. Increased care efficiency is a metric that hospitals have to pay greater attention to, now that their reimbursement levels are tied to the quality of care they provide as a result of the ACA.
Hospitalists serve as “quarterbacks of the care team” according to Dr. Paula Bailey, a hospitalist at the UK Chandler Hospital and the Kentucky Children’s Hospital. As the “quarterback,” hospitalist wear many different hats through the care process to know how to coordinate proper care with subspecialists for the most efficient treatment. At its base, the hospitalist’s role is about the patient-physician relationship in the care process.
As mentioned above, the UK Healthcare system is an example of an AMC leveraging hospitalists in its care strategy. The UK healthcare system has been a pioneer in hospital medicine in the area of AMCs. Their program, first among public hospitals, was established in 1998 and today, the Division of Hospital Medicine now has 60 clinicians who attend to more than 200 patients per day.