A hospitalist is defined as a physician “whose primary professional focus is the general medical care of hospitalized patients. Activities include patient care, teaching, research, and leadership related to hospital medicine.”1 Hospitalists may be employed by medical institutions or a large group practice to provide inpatient services to children and/or adults. Hospitalists are most commonly trained as family physicians, pediatricians, or internal medicine physicians.
Family physicians possess the education and training necessary to be hospitalists and are eligible to sit for the Focused Practice in Hospital Medicine examination administered by the American Board of Family Medicine. Learn more in the Joint Statement from the Society of Hospital Medicine (SHM) and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) on Hospitalists Trained in Family Medicine.
Communication between the hospitalist and the primary care physician ensures optimal patient outcomes and reduces hospital readmissions. Timely communication supports successful transitions of care and care coordination of any necessary follow-up treatment.
Consultation with an intensivist, medical, or surgical subspecialist does not preclude the need for the continuing, comprehensive, and personal care provided by the hospitalist. An important attribute of the hospitalist is the ability to collaborate and communicate with other physicians in the inpatient setting as well as to ensure continuity between the inpatient and the outpatient setting.
The following guidelines are intended to support quality, cost effective care to patients and their families, and to clarify expectations for communication between hospitalists and primary care physicians.
1. “What is a Hospitalist?” Society of Hospital Medicine. Accessed on March 26, 2018 at https://www.the-hospitalist.org/hospitalist/article/123072/what-hospitalist(www.the-hospitalist.org).