Innovations in Healthcare

Hospitalist Approach Good Model for Managing Patients


Applying the HM model to specialties that can dedicate themselves to managing inpatients could improve care efficiency, says the coauthor of a new report from the American Hospital Association's (AHA) Physician Leadership Forum.

The 20-page report, "Creating the Hospital of the Future: The Implications for Hospital-Focused Physician Practice [PDF]," codified a daylong summit of hospitalist leaders and hospital administrators following the annual Health Forum/AHA Leadership Summit last July in San Francisco. SHM helped organize the meeting, which focused on the growing role and importance of "hyphenated hospitalists."

"With the hospitalist movement, it's critical that there is coordination between the inpatient and the outpatient world … but also inpatient-wise, there should be some coordination of services between the various specialties that are dedicated to the hospital," says John Combes, MD, AHA senior vice president. "We have an opportunity here, as more and more subspecialties develop hospital-based and hospital-focused practices, to construct it right."

Dr. Combes says the model is not applicable to all specialties, but early adoption by fields including OBGYN, orthopedics, neurology, and surgery is a good sign. Hospitalist could look at forming large, multispecialty groups to bring all hospital-focused programs under one proverbial roof. "So there's not only coordination at the hospital level, but also at the group level," he adds.

The continued growth of specialty hospitalists might hinge on whether research shows that the approach improves patient outcomes.

"The jury is out on that right now," Dr. Combes says. "As hospitalists get better at defining what their role is within the inpatient setting—particularly around care coordination, care improvement, efficiency, reduction of unnecessary procedures and testing—we'll be able to document more value."

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