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Top hospitalists?

April 2009

I was very interested to find the organization I work for discussed in the “Advertise at Your Own Risk” article in SHM’s eWire this week. The feature mentions a controversy over the health system’s right to claim the most top doctors listed in regional publications.

While I am in no way involved in the dispute regarding this claim, what I found curious was the absence of hospitalists in this debate over top doctors. It is not like we are the new kids on the block any more. I hope I don’t sound too much like Andy Rooney when I say we deserve, as a group of specialists, to be considered for nomination in our own category. As best as I can tell, to date no regional magazines–which are the purveyors of most of these surveys–has included our category in their rankings.

One might say that this debate over “Top Doctors” is inconsequential because it is only an exercise in marketing. But we live in a world of consumer driven health care, and these rankings may continue to grow in importance to our patients when they decide where to seek care. And when it comes to where our patients choose to be hospitalized, hospitalists should be recognized as the backbone of this care model.

I also believe most hospitals are starting to market their hospitalist programs. A brief search of hospital Web sites finds numerous links to hospitals that proudly promote their programs. Most of these links note the “24/7” presence of the hospitalists and emphasize our role in communicating with families and primary care physicians.

As it is likely that lists of top doctors are going to continue to be published and the results marketed by hospitals, my view is that it is only a matter of time until we are included with a category of our own. While some may doubt the importance of being included in these surveys, I believe the addition of hospitalists will be significant for the development of our specialty.