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Hospital medicine: 44,000 and counting

October 2014

Published in the October 2014 issue of Today’s Hospitalist

Hospital medicine: 44,000 and counting

NEW DATA INDICATE that the number of hospitalists now working in the U.S. has quadrupled in the last 10 years, growing from 11,000 in 2003 to 44,000 now.

That’s according to coverage last month in HealthLeaders Media, which based those figures on responses to an American Hospital Association survey as well as on data extrapolated from the Society of Hospital Medicine’s 2014 survey. The number of hospitalists who were practicing in 1996, when the term was first used, was 100.

The new data also found that the percentage of U.S. hospitals in which hospitalists now work grew from 29% in 2003 to 50% in 2007 and to 72% in 2014, and that two out of every three Medicare beneficiaries hospitalized in 2012 were discharged by a hospitalist.

Another interesting data point: In 2012, 44% of hospitalist groups reported that they provided “tuck-in” services, admitting other physicians’ patients during the night. In 2014, however, that percentage has grown to 57%.

High marks for improved pneumonia care

HOSPITALS HAVE IMPROVED their performance on both process-of-care and outcomes measures among Medicare patients with pneumonia.

Research published online in September by JAMA Internal Medicine analyzed data from more than 4,700 U.S. hospitals on 1.8 million Medicare fee-for-service patients age 65 and older who were hospitalized with pneumonia in 2006-10. Researchers found that hospitals’ performance over those years on seven process-of-care measures related to pneumonia improved significantly, with hospitals meeting all seven measures in more than 92% of eligible cases in 2010.

In addition, the adjusted annual mortality rate among pneumonia patients dropped 0.09% per year, a small but significant decline due primarily to better mortality figures among non-ICU patients. At the same time, patients’ adjusted readmission rate dropped 0.25% per year.

The authors noted that the improvements in mortality and readmission rates were gained despite the fact that the rate of comorbidities, the prevalence of HCAP and the need for ICU admission had all increased among older pneumonia patients.

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