HOSPITALISTS: WHAT ARE THEY?
Hardy a week goes by that I don’t read an announcement in the Roanoke Times about a new “hospitalist” hired by Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. Do you know what a hospitalist is? Most people do not!
The old system was easy to understand. Hospitals granted privileges to physicians to admit and treat their patients, and the physicians returned the favor by assuming unpaid responsibilities like taking call, providing care to uninsured or emergency patients, and serving on administrative committees. Making money has changed the old system.
Today, we have hospitalists or physicians who work only at the hospital. Their professional life is with the hospital as an institution. Hospitalists can be ER doctors, critical care physicians, anesthesiologists and radiologists. The hospital is the location of their work and provides the tools to do their job.
My concern is whether the hospitalists first loyalty is to the hospital or to the patient who is randomly assigned to their care. You see…the patients do not get to chose their hospitalists the hospital does.
I know this set up makes more money for the hospital but is it a good system for the provision of health care?