August 25, 2010
FORT ATKINSON –Beginning Tuesday, August 24 some adult patients admitted to the intensive care unit and the medical/surgical/pediatric unit at Fort Memorial Hospital will receive medical care from physicians with specific training in the care of hospitalized persons. The physicians responsible for admitting these patients are called hospitalists and they work closely with the patient’s primary care physician throughout the inpatient stay. Because of the intensive training these physicians have received in caring for very medically ill patients, the effectiveness and efficiency of care provided is expected to be enhanced. This new program is the result of medical leadership at Fort HealthCare continuously surveying the healthcare landscape, looking for opportunities to improve care. Typically, these physicians are trained in general internal medicine or family medicine. Because hospitalists only treat hospitalized patients and do not have a regular clinic practice, they are more experienced in caring for persons with illnesses serious enough to require hospital care.
The field of Hospital Medicine is revolutionizing the care of hospitalized patients and is the fastest growing medical specialty in the U.S. An estimated 28,000 hospitalists practice today; eighty two percent are trained in general internal medicine. Many studies have shown that hospitalists help reduce lengths of stay, reduce treatment costs and improve the efficiency of care for hospitalized patients. Hospitalists have also been shown to reduce mortality rates, improve clinical outcomes and positively impact the quality of medical care and patient satisfaction.
Physician participation in the hospitalist program is voluntary. Some Fort HealthCare primary care physicians will continue admitting patients to the hospital as they have always done. Fort HealthCare patients are encouraged to speak with their physicians concerning participation in the hospitalist program.
Regardless, hospitalists may be consulted and offer treatment recommendations to support those primary care physicians who follow their patients until discharge. Also, hospitalists may be asked to consult on surgical patients when patients have other medical conditions that may require monitoring.
When a patient requires hospitalization, the hospitalist will advise the primary care doctor that their patient has been admitted and he or she will receive regular reports on the patient’s treatment and progress. When the patient is ready for discharge, the hospitalist will prescribe medications, make any arrangements for follow-up care and communicate with the primary care doctor regarding further treatments. Your entire medical team, made up of physicians, nurses, therapists and others will provide input into your discharge plan.
“Fort HealthCare patients will continue to see their primary care physician at the doctor’s office. This relationship will not be affected,” says Alan Detwiler, MD, an internal medicine specialist at Fort HealthCare. “It is only when a patient is admitted to Fort Memorial Hospital for non-surgical care that a hospitalist may become the attending physician and supervises all aspects of medical care.” Patients referred to hospitalists by their primary care physicians for treatment during hospitalization are returned to the care of their regular physicians after discharge and the long-standing relationship that existed between doctor and patient will continue as usual. In fact, it may be easier to make appointments with one’s doctor as they will be spending more time in the clinic and less time at the hospital.
The changing nature of the primary care doctor’s practice has contributed to the growth of the hospitalist movement. Because of the demands of managed care and increases in medical technology, more care is accomplished today in the physician’s office. The average physician has one or two hospitalized patients per week today versus 10-12 per week 20 years ago. Today’s average U.S. physician spends only 12 percent of his or her time with hospitalized patients. Hospitalists allow primary care doctors to focus time and attention on office patients.
“Much has changed in the practice of medicine,” says Detwiler. “It is now much more difficult to balance a busy office practice with the time necessary to care for hospitalized patients. Both areas of practice have become increasingly demanding as the medical needs of clinic patients and hospitalized patients have become more complex.” Detwiler noted that both areas of clinical care demand a doctor’s full attention. Patients, regardless of where they are cared for, expect excellent care. Detwiler believes that a service that has benefitted patients at many of this country’s best known hospitals will be good for Fort Memorial Hospital patients. “Patients will enjoy better access to their doctors in the clinics where the majority of acute and preventive medical care should be delivered. When hospital care is necessary, patients will find the care provided by a hospitalist is an efficient and effective complement to care from their primary physician.”
Research has shown that hospitalist care has resulted in shorter hospital stays, lower treatment costs and fewer medical errors. Most important, patients recover faster as the physicians are practiced in the care of common acute illnesses, can recognize and diagnose unusual disorders, and will rapidly respond to crises. Hospitalists are always available to patients and families as they provide medical coverage around the clock, every day of the week. This helps them to monitor treatment throughout the patient’s stay, order and follow-up on tests as needed and respond quickly in case of an emergency. As a result, patients may be able to go home faster.
While the Hospitalist Program at Fort Memorial Hospital may be a significant departure from the traditional physician-inpatient relationship that has existed for many years, the medical staff is confident that the benefits of this program will become evident very quickly. Hospitalists help reduce lengths of stay and treatment costs as well as improve the efficiency of care for hospitalized patients. Hospitalists have also been shown to reduce rates of serious illness, improve clinical outcomes and positively impact the quality of medical care and patient satisfaction. Last, Fort HealthCare patients will enjoy better access to their doctor in the clinics where the majority of acute and preventive care should be delivered. And when necessary, patients will find that the 24-hour per day care provided by a hospitalist is an efficient and effective complement to the care offered by one’s primary care physician.
Learn more about these doctors and the hospitalist program at www.FortHealthCare.com/Hospitalist.
Fort HealthCare is an integrated hospital and health system that attracts patients throughout southeastern Wisconsin. Fort Memorial Hospital is a modern, fully accredited, acute and sub-acute care facility with 110 licensed beds. More than 100 physicians are on staff. Fort Medical Group, a subsidiary of Fort HealthCare, currently employs more than 50 physicians, nurse practitioners, and other healthcare providers. Fort Medical Group clinics offering primary and specialty surgical care are located in Fort Atkinson, Cambridge, Edgerton, Elkhorn, Johnson Creek, Jefferson, Lake Mills, Stoughton and Whitewater. Other services offered by Fort HealthCare include occupational medicine, rehabilitation and sports medicine, wound care, urgent care, home health, a preferred provider network for employers known as FortCare, and more. Fort HealthCare is a partner in the UW Cancer Center Johnson Creek. Most major health insurance products are accepted. For more information, please go to www.FortHealthCare.com.