Hospital C-suite Favors Hospitalist Growth, Says Survey

Karen M. Cheung, January 22, 2010

Hospital leaders in the C-suite support hospitalist program growth, according to a recent study, "California hospital leaders' views of hospitalists: Meeting needs of the present and future," which was published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine.

As hospitalists take on more roles in the hospital, rotating between the inpatient, emergency, and surgery floors, hospital leaders also support additional training for these physicians.

The study surveyed hospital leaders—CEOs, COOs, CMOs, vice presidents of medical affairs, and medical directors—at 179 nonfederal, acute hospitals in California in 2006-2007. More than half (57%) expected hospitalist program growth during the next two years, according to the study.

And at hospitals without existing programs, 44% of hospital leaders planned to implement one within the next two years. None of the respondents planned to cut the size of their hospitalist groups.

With 25,000 hospitalists in the U.S., hospital medicine is the fastest growing medical specialty.

What is the catalyst for this boom? Whereas startup reasons used to be about cost containment, hospital administrators are now more interested in initiatives of quality and patient coverage.

"The C-suite has an interest in improving the quality of care. They're responding to the transparency movements of public metrics for CMS, The Joint Commission, for the public setting," said lead author of the study, Dr. Eduard Vasilevskis, MD, associate professor of medicine and staff physician at Vanderbilt Center for Health Services Research in Nashville. "They see hospitalists as a solution toward improving quality of care in the hospital."

For institutions with existing programs, leaders implemented hospitalist programs to meet patient coverage (68% of respondents), improve costs and length of stay (63%), and improve ED throughput (62%), according to the study.

For hospitals that planned on starting programs, leaders said they were going to implement hospitalist programs within the next two years for quality improvement (54%) and demand for primary care doctors (46%).

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