Patients Treated by Hospitalists Receive More Efficient, Less Expensive Care, Study Finds
Patients treated by "hospitalists" -- physicians who provide care in hospitals rather than operate outside clinical practices -- have shorter hospital stays and lower hospitalization costs than those treated by non-hospitalists, according to a recent study conducted by researchers at the Department of Veterans Affairs Iowa City Health Care System and the University of Iowa, the AP/Birmingham News reports. In the study, researchers analyzed 1,706 patient admissions to the four general internal medicine services at University Hospitals in Iowa City between 2000 and 2001. One of the services was staffed by hospitalists; the others were staffed by non-hospitalists who specialize in internal medicine.
The study found that patients treated by hospitalists had an average hospital stay of 5.5 days, compared with 6.5 days for those treated by non-hospitalists. According to the study, both groups of patients had hospital readmission rates of about 8% within 30 days of discharge. In addition, the study found that hospitalization costs for patients treated by hospitalists were 10%, or $917, less than those for patients treated by non-hospitalists.
Researchers attributed the lower hospitalization costs for patients treated by hospitalists to reduced inpatient nursing services because of the shorter hospital stays. Dr. Peter Kaboli, an assistant professor at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and lead author of the study, said, "Believe it or not, patients don't like to be in the hospital. They like to get the care they need and then go home." Kaboli added that hospitalists provide more efficient care for patients because they are more familiar with the hospital environment (AP/Birmingham News, 8/16).