Have you seen your Hospitalist today? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Have you seen your Hospitalist today?

February 6, 2008

Albany - The next time you're hospitalized, it's possible someone other than your doctor will be treating you. There's a new group of health care providers called Hospitalists. Doctors contract out with them to take care of their hospitalized patients for them.

With 2,000 patients who come to see him at Albany Internal Medicine, you can say Dr. Brian Keefe is a busy man. Too busy to cancel his appointments and go to the hospital to treat his other patients, so now, he let's someone else do that.

"It allows them to spend more time in the office and the biggest impact we've seen in our practice individually is we can see more sick people the same day they need to be seen," said Dr. Keefe.

It wasn't an easy transition. 20 years ago, Dr. Keefe started his days by visiting patients in the hospital, then conducting clinic hours. Now he relies on a team of Hospitalists to treat his patients and keep him informed of their conditions.

 "We have pretty close coordination with the doctors when something's going on in the hospital that's particularly important or significant, we get a phone call directly from the doctor," he said.

Like Dr. Alan Brown who heads up the Hospitalist team at Phoebe. "People in the hospital sometimes need Doctors to come by two and three times a day," said Dr. Brown. "They need follow up on lab results, test results, imaging, CT scans, chest X-rays and we're able to do that quickly, efficiently, to help those patients get the care they need as quickly as possible."

Much faster than they would have been seen traditionally. For many, that means a shorter hospital stay, costing the hospital and the patient less money. "It's very good to get in and move them through the system as quickly as possible and get well and go home," said Brown.  So he can see more patients here at the hospital, and Dr. Keefe can treat his patients back at the office.

Roughly 30-50% of primary care physicians in Albany are now using Hospitalists to treat their patients. Dr. Brown says his team treats about 250 patients a month at Phoebe.

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