Tag Archives: family doctor

A hospitalist’s professional focus is caring for patients in the hospital.

Hospitalists Provide Focused Care During Your Hospital Stay

An overnight (or longer) stay in the hospital can be scary and stressful. The new surroundings, medical terminology and encountering new faces and medical devices are confusing enough, let alone keeping track of which doctor is working with the health care team taking care of you.

Over the past several years, there has been a shift in which doctor provides the medical care for patients when they are in the hospital. Primary care doctors, be they family physicians, internists or pediatricians, spend the majority of their time in their offices seeing patients and spend little or no time caring for their patients when they are hospitalized.

In years past, the family doctor would conduct “rounds” on their patients in the hospital, either first thing in the morning, at the end of the day, or both. Now, specialized physicians called “hospitalists” are filling much of the inpatient care role. And, that’s a good thing.

A hospitalist’s professional focus is caring for patients in the hospital. This focus allows them to increase their expertise in hospital care and to be more readily available than physicians who work both in the office and the hospital. Depending on the length of your hospital stay, more than one hospitalist may care for you, but they all are part of your care team of doctors, nurses, aides, and others who should be communicating with you and each other about your medical condition.

After you leave the hospital, the hospitalist team is responsible for communicating with your personal doctor, so that he or she is fully informed and can resume your care. And, always remember, the MOST important person on your care team is YOU, or a person you have designated in the event you can’t speak for yourself. If you don’t know or aren’t sure who someone is, or if you sense something isn’t right … SPEAK UP.

Here’s a check-list of what you should expect from your hospitalist physician, adapted from the Society of Hospital Medicine:

  • Prompt and complete attention to all of your care needs including diagnosis, treatment, and the performance of medical procedures (within their scope of practice).
  • Collaboration, communication and coordination with all physicians and health care personnel caring for you.
  • Safe transition of your care within the hospital and from the hospital to the community, which may include oversight of care in post-acute care facilities.
  • Provides safe, quality and efficient care for you in the hospital.

You may notice that the majority of these items include communication, communication, communication — with you, other physicians, your primary care physicians and the members of your health care team in the hospital.

House Call

Valley Doctors Balance Offices With House Calls

Sitting impatiently in a packed waiting room past your appointment time just hoping to be called next, seems like a far cry from the comfort of the old country doctor that made house calls.

A few Valley doctors are resurrecting this relationship-oriented style of medicine through a hybrid concierge model; some even make house calls in urgent situations.

Concierge care, which solely caters to a VIP clientele, has been around for a while. But Wayne Lipton, the founder of Concierge Choice Physicians, is touting a hybrid model that has a handful of doctors practicing in Arizona and more than 160 physicians in 16 states.

The hybrid approach allows concierge patients to have direct contact with their physician through e-mail or phone, same- or next-day appointments, extended visits and executive physicals. The doctors can still see other patients who didn’t feel the need to pay extra to join a concierge model.

“This approach is not only kinder and gentler to an area, it helps accomplish a number of goals,” Lipton says. “It’s a choice, not a requirement on the part of patients. So it’s an opportunity, and the opportunity is to have something that’s more akin to old-fashioned primary care. It’s also an opportunity for the doctor to continue to participate in the plan and the government plan they’d been in before.”

Dr. Susan Wilder, who has been a physician for more than 20 years, switched her practice, LifeScape Medical Associates, to the hybrid model about two years ago.

“We wanted to take the time needed with patients … not churn them through 40 patients a day,” says Wilder, founder and CEO of LifeScape Medical Associates in Scottsdale.

Wilder became a doctor to provide the kind of care she received as a child from her general practitioner, who knew her family’s medical history and who delivered her and her siblings.

“My ideal was to be the old-fashioned family doctor,” she says. “The concierge model allows us to have that relationship.”

Christine Craft, who has been a concierge patient for two years, says she opted to have more accessibility to and a closer relationship with her doctor.

Craft says most of her questions are health-related as opposed to sickness-related, but the conversations the hybrid model allows her to have with Wilder are worth the extra payments.

Craft and her husband didn’t have health issues when they became concierge patients, but since that time Craft’s husband has developed a serious illness.

She says she thought the concierge practice was valuable when she was healthy, but with a serious illness, “the value of it increases a hundred times. … The accessibility that my husband (has), to have that when times are scary and tough (is) even more valuable.”

Wilder isn’t the only doctor to find the concierge care beneficial to both her and her patients.

“It’s growing leaps and bounds,” Lipton says. “It’s growing numbers amongst the best and the brightest … because it is consistent with why they became primary care doctors to begin with.”

In the current health care system, where the only way to increase income is to increase patients, thereby decreasing the level of care, doctors are turning to concierge care to boost income.

“Sometimes I feel like Charlie Brown and the football” in the current health care system, Wilder says.

Although Wilder only has about 200 concierge patients and her practice has more than 1,500 non-concierge patients, she says the hybrid model has kept her practice alive financially.

“It doesn’t make millionaire doctors, but what it does is it bolsters the revenue of a practice efficiently to make up for what really is a very unsure level of compensation for primary physicians today, and it encourages excellence,” Lipton says.

The hybrid model not only boosts income, but also the fulfillment level of doctors.

It’s “much more rewarding to provide comprehensive care,” Wilder says.