Healthcare is constantly evolving—as are the roles of physicians in a hospital environment. At NYU Lutheran Medical Center and hospitals nationwide, a new team of doctors called hospitalists have become a regular presence, specially trained to deliver comprehensive care to inpatients.
Steven Abramson, MD, the Frederick H. King Professor of Internal Medicine and chair of the Department of Medicine at NYU Langone, led the introduction of hospitalists at NYU Langone’s Tisch Hospital in Manhattan. He has seen firsthand the increasingly important role they play in the spectrum of medical care.
“Hospitalists are ‘change agents’,” says Abramson, who also serves as Vice Dean for Education, Faculty, and Academic Affairs at NYU Langone. “For example, they help identify important concerns that can lead to serious complications and longer hospital stays such as catheter line infections, blood clots, and proper use of transfusions.” He also notes, “Their role also is becoming increasingly important as hospitalized patients are older and sicker, and demands on community-based primary care physicians make it harder to leave their practices and attend to their patients who are hospitalized.”
“We have hospitalists present on every medical floor and unit, and they consult on all adult inpatient cases,” says Abraham Thomas, MD, MPH, chief of the NYU Lutheran Department of Medicine. “Along with the ability to directly supervise the training of residents, hospitalists also help foster increased quality, safety, and patient satisfaction.”
Board-certified in internal medicine, Charles Okamura, MD, is the director of the hospitalist program at NYU Lutheran. He was one of the first hospitalists at Tisch Hospital to help build a robust, team-oriented program, focused on delivering culturally sensitive care with the highest degree of safety to all patients.
"The experience we gained at Tisch is the model that we are adapting to the unique needs of our patients in Brooklyn," says Okamura, who leads a team of 18 hospitalists who provide 24/7 care and consultations at NYU Lutheran. “Our goal is to improve overall medical care by providing continuity and personalized medical attention.”
Why Hospitalists Are Key to Better Hospital Care
In the past, the care of hospitalized patients was the principal responsibility of their own personal physicians, who would make rounds to check on them as their office schedule allowed. Today, in order to accommodate the increasing need for medical care in outpatient settings, office-based primary care physicians are turning to hospitalists to ensure continuity of care for their patients while in the hospital.
"Enlisting the services of the hospitalist allows primary care physicians to concentrate on patients who require medical attention in their offices," explains Okamura.
Following national trends, primary care physicians with or without admitting privileges to NYU Lutheran are opting to entrust the care of their hospitalized patients to the expertise and constant availability of hospitalists, who provide close monitoring and timely communication with patients' primary care physicians.
"Hospitalists deliver precise, detailed, and organized reports to primary care physicians,” says Okamura. “We also see to it that there is always clear communication and coordination of care between patients and the various medical professionals involved in their care while in the hospital. This, in turn, helps us uphold important quality and safety measures, and ensure a positive patient experience during hospitalization.”
When a patient is ready for discharge, hospitalists also facilitate arrangements for getting prescriptions filled and all necessary follow-up care. Hospitalists also use NYU Lutheran’s new electronic medical record system, Epic, to send clear discharge summaries to patients’ primary providers to further enhance the care of the patient after they have been discharged.
"The timeliness and personalized medical attention that hospitalists provide greatly enhance the patient experience,” says Okamura. “We strive to do the best we can for each and every patient in our care."