Tomorrow’s doctors may not be the specialist or family M-D you visit at a clinic. University of Iowa professor Peter Kaboli explains they could choose a new specialty — the hospitalist. Kaboli says that’s what he considers himself, since he spends all his time in the hospital and doesn’t work with outpatients at all. A concept that appeared midway through the 1990s, the hospitalist coordinates care of a patient from arrival to checkout. They deal with issues from admission, day-to-day care, discharge, and followup like a nursing home, care at home or follow-up antibiotics. Dr. Kaboli says while it might appear to be adding hospital staff, a hospitalist’s coordination of care can make things more efficient, and save money. Studies including some done at the University of Iowa found hospitalists were linked with savings in cost of care and length of stay, things that are related to each other. Kaboli says some worried that discharging patients faster might mean their care suffered, but under the attention of a hospitalist, he says that’s proved not to be a problem. He says they found there’s no increase in post-discharge complications or re-admission, and one study found lower mortality in patients who were followed by hospitalists compared to their regular doctor. Dr Kaboli says there are hospitalists on the staff at hospitals in Des Moines, Ames, Iowa City and Mason City.
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