What is a Hospitalist?Mar 7, 2014
It’s becoming more and more common that your primary care physician isn’t the one that oversees your care if you go to the hospital. A new specialist called a hospitalist is likely handling that job. Dr. Rodney Bates is a hospitalist at Madison Memorial Hospital in Rexburg, Idaho. He’ll tell you what he does, and how to best take advantage of this specialist.
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Interviewer: For a lot of people there's a new trend in medicine where you go to the hospital and it's not your normal doctor that comes and visits you anymore. It's a specialized physician called a hospitalist. We're going to find out what a hospitalist is right now. We're with Dr. Bates from Madison Memorial Hospital in Rexburg, Idaho. What exactly does a hospitalist do? I've never heard of that, and I think a lot of people haven't.
Dr. Bates: Hospitalists mainly are involved with primary care. I am an internal medicine trained physician. The majority of my training took place in the hospital setting. I started a private practice internal medicine hospitalist combined, that's what we call general internal medicine or traditional course, for about eight and a half years. The last three years I transitioned over to hospital only.
Interviewer: That's what a hospitalist is. You're a specialized doctor that just works in the hospital.
Dr. Bates: Correct.
Interviewer: What's the advantage to that? Why has that been created?
Dr. Bates: Some people wouldn't call it an advantage. That's why we have primary care physicians, thank goodness, that want to stay in the office and try to avoid the hospital at all costs. For me it's more comfortable and also a preference as far as the investigational aspects of a patient's care, those that are most critical care that need the immediate response of a hospital and their services.
Interviewer: So just the fact that you're there all of the time is a benefit, whereas there primary care physician just showed up every once in a while, once a day.
Dr. Bates: Correct. There is some data that's been proven and shown that we can decrease a patient's length of stay maybe as much as one and a half days per diagnostic needs. Just because we are here we can deal with those things a little bit easier and a little bit more timely.
Interviewer: What are some of the other things that you do behind the scenes that a patient might not necessarily see?
Dr. Bates: A lot of times coordinating care with a specialist. We may coordinate care through other ancillary services, radiology services. We can follow up with tests sooner, as soon as they're done.
Interviewer: Oh sure.
Dr. Bates: And we can concentrate on that where another physician that has his office duties may be involved with other patients obviously and rightfully so. We're there. We can address nurses' needs a little quicker, and I think all in all the nurses enjoy that a little bit more. They know who they're going to go to.
Interviewer: As a patient if I end up in the hospital are there any tips that you have for me to utilize you to the fullest extent.
Dr. Bates: The best thing, I would say, would be try to stay out of the hospital.
Interviewer: That's good advice.
Dr. Bates: Go with your preventative care. That's obviously 100% needed, but if you do end up in the hospital remember to have questions. If you have questions feel free to ask. We're here to help educate as well.
Interviewer: Ask lots of questions. What kinds of questions do you wish more people would ask?
Dr. Bates: Just clarifying. We try to do a good job of wrapping up what the plan is going to be after this, but if there's any question in that patient's mind a lot of times they feel like, "Hey, I may act stupid if I ask a question." Don't feel bad about asking that question.
Interviewer: How important is it your follow care to getting better?
Dr. Bates: It's very important. It keeps the patient out of the hospital. That's our goal.
Recording: We're your daily dose of science, conversation and medicine. This is The Scope, University of Utah Health Sciences Radio.