Ask the Expert: Hospitalists Focus on In-Patient Care

Dr. Ramanjit Dhaliwal | Jul 9, 2012, 6 a.m.


Dr. Ramanjit Dhaliwal

Question: When I was in the hospital, I was visited by a “hospitalist.” What exactly is a hospitalist?

Answer: The healthcare industry is comprised of many specialties, all working together in an attempt to deliver safe, effective and high-quality healthcare. 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 healthcare systems are facing growing demands on time, costs and resources. In response, a number of physicians and hospitals are looking for more efficient and effective ways of delivering 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 healthcare providers involved in the care of these patients — among other responsibilities. Once patients leave the hospital, they return to the direct care of their personal physician(s).

Along with being well-trained and highly skilled, typically hospitalists 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 healthcare provider or interfere with the patient-provider relationship. Instead, they exist to work with fellow healthcare providers to provide the highest quality of care, within and beyond hospitals.

Dr. Ramanjit Dhaliwal is the medical director for Banner Thunderbird Medical Center’s Hospitalist Program. His office can be reached at (602) 865-2628. If you have a question for a medical expert, you can email it to us at BTMC PublicRelations@BannerHealth.com.

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