NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 2, 2006

The Boston Globe examined the rapidly growing number of hospitalists -- physicians who work in hospitals and do not have outside practices -- in the United States. 

Hospitalists seek to ensure that patients receive proper medical treatments and tests, help patients and their families understand the procedures and ensure that patients stay in the hospital no longer than necessary. 

According to the Globe:

  • The functions of hospitalists might sound like obvious goals, but in traditional hospital care models, in which busy primary care physicians travel to the hospital and make rounds once a day, usually early in the morning, patients are frequently frustrated because they can't find out what is going on with their care.
  • In addition, the problem has only grown as primary care physicians -- squeezed economically by declining insurance reimbursements -- increase their daily office visit load to keep up.

Since 1996, the number of hospitalists has increased from about 500 to about 15,000 and the number likely will increase to about 30,000 by 2010, according to the Society of Hospital Medicine. 

Joseph Miller, senior vice president of Society of Hospital Medicine, said that the use of hospitalists can help hospitals reduce costs and meet quality standards established by health insurers and regulators. 

Miller said that patients under the care of hospitalists in most cases have "superior" outcomes. 

Source: Christopher Rowland, "New specialists are ready to help -- inpatients, that is

In-hospital MDs take pressure off physicians," Boston Globe, October 30, 2006.

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