What is a Hospitalist?
Hospitalists are "hospital specialists;" fully-trained physicians whose primary role is to provide general medical care of patients who are in the hospital.
Typically, the majority of hospitalists are Internal Medicine physicians. Some also have subspecialty training in fields such as pulmonary, critical care medicine or cardiology.
The hospitalist team also comprises of physician assistants and nurse practitioners.
Hospitalists only see patients while in the hospital, they do not have a practice in the community setting. By devoting themselves exclusively to the inpatient setting, hospitalists are able to provide 24 hrs/day hospital presence. These physicians follow hospitalized patients through the complex continuum of hospital care, answering questions, visiting frequently, and ensuring that all relevant information gets to primary care physicians as well as all other providers. Who is in charge of my care while I am in the hospital – the hospitalist or my own doctor?
The Hospitalist team will be coordinating your care during your hospital stay. Just as when your primary care physician sends you to a specialist for testing and treatment, you have been referred to the Hospitalist for inpatient care. The Hospitalist team will contact your primary care physician from your admission to discharge. A full report will be sent your doctor on discharge and the Hospitalist team will discuss discharge plans with you.
If you do not have a primary care physician, the Hospitalist team will help to arrange follow up. How do hospitalists contribute to my care in the hospital?
Hospitalists can be compared to the conductor of a symphony orchestra. For each patient they see in the hospital setting, they bring all the elements that are essential to effective and streamlined patient care together to provide seamless, timely medical care.
They are internists who are familiar with all of the key individuals in the hospital, including medical and surgery consultants, discharge planners, clergy, nursing and others and can better facilitate connections with post-acute providers, such as home health care, skilled nursing care, and specialized rehabilitation. If the case is an emergency, often hospitalists will first meet patients in the Emergency Department following them during their hospitalization, and organizing post-acute hospital care.
Another advantage of having a hospitalist on-site at the hospital is their availability if patients or family members have questions or need more information. Why are hospitalists such a good idea?
With specialized understanding of inpatient care, on-site hospitalists are able to recognize and diagnose unusual disorders, anticipate problems and rapidly respond to crises or changes in a patient’s condition. The hospitalists at MetroWest Medical Center also take a leadership role in quality and patient safety initiatives in the hospital.
Hospitalists are also valuable to your care in the hospital because they provide better continuity of care by improving the communication with all departments involved in your care. This is particularly important because hospital patients today are often more acutely ill than in the past. Because of this, hospital medicine requires a decidedly different skill set than outpatient medicine – a skill set that hospitalists are particularly experienced and competent to handle.
Another advantage for using the hospitalist service is that your primary care physician will be more available to you in the office.
- To reach a hospitalist for urgent matters, ask your nurse to contact the in-house hospitalist.
- For non-urgent matters, contact the MetroWest Medical Center Hospitalist office:
- Phone: 1-508-383-1479
- Fax: 1-508-383-8537