This innovative program is designed to assist primary care physicians in managing the care of their admitted patients.
Hospitalists are doctors whose primary professional focus is the general medical care of hospitalized patients. Their activities may include patient care, teaching, research, and leadership related to hospital care.
Unlike medical specialists in the emergency department or critical care units, hospitalists help manage patients throughout the continuum of care, often seeing patients in the ER, following them into the critical care unit and organizing post-acute care. This provides consistency for patients and their families, who work with one or two physicians.
Hospitalists generally visit the patient at least daily. Hamilton's Hospitalist Program represents a clear commitment on Hamilton's part to improve the quality and efficiency of inpatient care.
Since hospitalists practice full-time in the hospital, they are present whenever the patient or family member has a question regarding care. Patients no longer need to wait until their physicians make rounds to get answers. The hospitalist is familiar with all of the key individuals in the hospital, including medical and surgery consultants, discharge planners, clergy and others. They can also better facilitate connections with post acute providers, such as home health care, skilled nursing care, specialized rehabilitation and others.
The average U.S. primary care physician spends only 12 percent of his or her time with hospitalized patients. That means that the typical primary care physician is unlikely to see any one condition requiring hospitalization more that three times per year.
Hospitalists provide an expertise in the application and coordination of care for common acute disorders and are able to recognize and diagnose unusual disorders, anticipate problems and rapidly respond to crisis or changes in a patient's condition.
The hospitalist remains in constant communication with a patient's primary care physician. From admission to discharge, the hospitalist provides the patient's physician with frequent updates regarding their condition, test results and treatment plan. The patients physician can also provide the hospitalist with valuable background information.
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Hospitalist programs have been successfully implemented in leading Georgia hospitals such as Piedmont and Northside. Hamilton Medical Center implemented its program in early 2004. All physicians providing services through the hospitalist program are board certified or board eligible internal medicine physicians that have been credentialed through Hamilton's Medical Staff office.