How can a hospitalist help me?
Ramanjit Dhaliwal, MD, is the medical director for Banner Thunderbird Medical Center's Hospitalist Program. His office can be reached at 602-865-2628.
Question: When I was in the hospital, I was visited by a "hospitalist." What exactly is a hospitalist?
Answer: The health care industry is composed of many specialties, all working together in an attempt to deliver safe, effective and high-quality health care. One of those specialties is hospital medicine. In short, hospitalists are physicians who primarily focus on caring for patients during their hospital stay.
Primary care physicians have conventionally been responsible for visiting their hospitalized patients and ordering necessary tests, procedures, treatments and medications throughout the patients' hospital stay. Today, many doctors continue to monitor and care for their patients in this way. However, physicians and health-care systems are facing growing demands on time, costs and resources. In response, a number of physicians and hospitals are looking for more effective ways to deliver patient care. Hospitalists have emerged as one solution.
A hospitalist's primary focus is to manage and coordinate the general medical care of hospitalized patients and improve the overall quality of care. Their activities range from ordering the appropriate tests, medications and treatment to communicating with the primary-care physicians, cardiologists, pediatricians or other health-care providers involved in the care of these patients. Once patients leave the hospital, they return to the direct care of their personal physician.
Along with being well-trained and highly-skilled, hospitalists typically have a more thorough understanding of the processes, staff, resources and functions of the hospitals in which they work, which may help in facilitating and streamlining care. By practicing on-site, hospitalists also have the advantage of being more accessible to patients and families.
Hospitalists are not, in any way, an attempt to replace your primary health-care provider or interfere with the patient-provider relationship. Instead, they exist to work with fellow health-care providers to provide the highest quality of care within and beyond hospitals.