Surgical Hospitalists Answer the Growing Need for Comprehensive Care
One of the constant problems affecting hospitals in the United States is a shortage of general surgeons. In recent years, hospitals have found it more and more difficult to have surgeons at the ready if an individual needs an emergency procedure.
That’s because of two factors:
- There’s a growing shortage of surgeons in America. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the shortage of surgeons in the United States will reach somewhere between sixty-one thousand and ninety-four thousand by the year 2020.
- The traditional system of taking calls—in which surgeons with elective practices take emergency calls in off hours—is breaking down. Today’s surgeons are not as interested in the long hours their older colleagues put in, and are more interested in quality of life and set schedules.
Hence, the concept of the surgical hospitalist has evolved over the last decade. Surgical hospitalists are surgeons who work only in hospitals rather than in an office or private practice. They are available to immediately do consults with the ED staff and hospitalists, perform procedures, and to follow up on those patients for continuity of care during their recovery.
For surgeons who want more regular schedules and enjoy the challenge and variety of acute care surgery, the surgical hospitalist role is both attractive and rewarding. For the hospital, a comprehensive surgical hospitalist program delivers not only consistent coverage but also the physician/hospital alignment to improve quality measures, efficiency, and patient satisfaction.
Surgical Affiliates Management Group is one of the pioneers in this space. Results from their work, reported in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, show sustainable improvements over a five year period of time in quality, cost reduction, and efficiency.
A comprehensive surgical hospitalist program means real improvements to patient care, integration of medical services, lowered costs, and increased efficiency. Those who are serious about creating a value-based healthcare system should certainly explore the possibilities of surgical hospitalists.
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