The Evolving Role of Hospitalists

While hospital medicine is a relatively new specialty, over the past 25 years its practitioners have become a staple for acute patient care. Today, hospitalists’ roles are evolving by expanding their reach into patients’ homes. As home hospital models are becoming more widely adopted, more and more physicians are seeing new aspects of their role become virtual – and for the betterment of all involved.

Through home hospital models, like those from Contessa, hospitalists are finding many benefits for themselves and their patients. For physicians working as virtual hospitalists, an in-home visit through a coordinated care team model provides the patient access to acute care in the comfort of their home. Working through a team-based model with a registered nurse physically in a patient’s home, physicians’ rounds are completed through a telehealth platform in which they can guide the team of caregivers and interact with the patient.

The virtual setting has become more frequent across healthcare with the increased use of telehealth during the pandemic. With a team whose services wrap around the patient, hospitalists have the advantage of caring for a patient initially in-person and then transitioning to the home virtually for the remainder of their care. By working with a consistent team inside the patient’s home, the hospitalist is able to safely and effectively lead the care delivery process.

Patients have many benefits to receiving care through a home hospital model. As one would expect when considering acute care, patients are often most comfortable in their own home. This, in turn, leads to many health improvements, like better sleep and less stress. With improved environmental familiarity also comes a decrease in acquired infections or the accidental injuries one may incur while in an unfamiliar setting.

As the evolution of the hospitalist role continues, it’s anticipated the virtual reach of hospital medicine will become more common. Models of care like Contessa’s are the next evolutionary step and as our systems continue to grow, we anticipate that the virtual home hospitalist will become more of a mainstay in the healthcare continuum.

Disclaimer: The author of this post, geriatrician Mark Montoney, MD, was previously Contessa’s Chief Medical Officer. Though he is retired and no longer with the organization, the information in this article is clinically accurate and verified.