Hospital Medicine services are provided by a physician (hospitalist) whose primary professional focus is the care of hospitalized patients. Most hospitalists are board-certified in internal medicine, although some are pediatricians and family medicine physicians. What brings them under the same umbrella is that they work exclusively in the hospital, and they have dedicated their careers to the care of hospitalized patients.
Hospitalists are an important part of the care team because the hospital (inpatient) setting often creates different patient-care situations than those in the clinic (outpatient) setting. Working day in and day out within the fast-paced, often intense, hospital environment, hospitalists gain unique expertise and experience that benefits patients when they are in the hospital.
Hospitalists partner with primary care physicians to care for patients when they require hospitalization and work to ensure smooth transfer of care between inpatient and outpatient settings. Hospitalists meet with some patients before surgery for preoperative evaluations and follow up with them afterward for postoperative care.
Hospitalists work closely with surgeons and other specialty and sub-specialty physicians. They also coordinate communication with referring physicians to assure continuity of care before, during and after a patient's hospital stay. In some cases, hospitalists may work with patients who are preparing to move from the hospital to a nursing home or an assisted-care facility, to help smooth the transition from one care environment to another.