Home From The Editor Hospital medicine and economics: a case of meeting market demands

Hospital medicine and economics: a case of meeting market demands

April 2005

Published in the April 2005 issue of Today’s Hospitalist

How much of a role are economic factors playing in the rapid growth of hospitalist programs?

Many hospitalists don’t like to talk about their economic impact, particularly when the conversation focuses on the specialty’s ability to control costs. But as this month’s cover story points out, hospitalists may be more in tune with some basic principles of economics than they realize.

Researchers who studied the impact of hospital medicine in 12 U.S. cities found a “stunning” level of variation. While researchers were surprised at how many different models hospitalist programs use around the country, they were even more shocked to see just how many different types of hospitalist programs function side by side in single markets.

Such intense variation in a single specialty may be unusual in U.S. health care, but it may also be one of the keys to hospital medicine’s success. Rather than embracing a handful of preconceived models, hospitalist programs have been remarkably flexible in meeting the needs of the hospitals and referring physicians in their markets. Economics is about more than controlling costs, a concept that hospitalist programs everywhere seem to understand.

While hospitalists’ ability to meet market demands is only one part of the specialty’s success, it appears to be an important factor in the explosive growth of hospitalist programs. As the specialty grows and matures, hospitals will look to their programs for more of that same flexibility and creativity.

How does your program plan to respond?

Edward Doyle
Editor and Publisher, Today’s Hospitalist