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'The Business of Health Care Report'

New Role for Physicians: The Hospitalist

I’m Doug Hawthorne, president and CEO of Texas Health Resources, with “The Business of Health Care Report.”

There was a time when a hospital stay meant that your family physician was at the hospital several times a day during your visit. Now, increased patient demand makes it difficult for physicians to be out of their office for extended periods of time, and our mobile society rarely allows us to have one primary care physician we’ve known all our lives. As a matter of fact, many of us switch doctors whenever we start a new job or our employers choose a new health plan.

This is where hospitalists – which are physicians who specialize in treating hospital patients – can have a great impact. Because they are based at the hospital, these private practice physicians can develop strong relationships with hospital staff and are able to coordinate patient care within the hospital walls.

Currently, there are more than 12,000 hospitalists nationwide. Working hand-in-hand with primary care physicians, hospitalists allow primary care physicians to focus on their patients at the office with the knowledge that their hospitalized patients are well-cared for. In turn, patients receive several visits from a doctor who is familiar with their care and can help them navigate their hospital stay.

Most of us may never benefit from having the same family doctor throughout a lifetime, but it’s comforting to know that hospitalists can provide a consistency of care whenever a hospital stay is needed.

For Texas Health Resources and its faith-based hospitals – Harris Methodist, Presbyterian and Arlington Memorial – I’m Doug Hawthorne.

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