Analysis in Brief
Each online issue of Analysis in Brief (AIB) tackles an academic medicine research topic, and presents a two-page, easy-to-read snapshot of the AAMC’s data collection and research activities. Topics are selected through a peer-review process and support the association’s strategic research agenda. The reports not only present data, but also provide context on the issues, interpretation of results and trends, and discussion of the policy and practical implications of the results—all of which may help to facilitate institutional and policy improvements at medical schools and teaching hospitals.
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The term “hospitalist” was coined in the mid-1990s to identify physicians who manage the care of hospitalized patients (inpatient care), representing a shift from the care model in which primary care physicians (PCPs) treated patients in both outpatient and inpatient settings. The number of hospitalist physicians has grown rapidly in the past two decades, but they are not readily identifiable in existing physician databases. Most published studies use Medicare claims data to estimate hospitalist counts, although they use varying definitions and corresponding subsets of claims to define hospitalists. In this Analysis in Brief, Medicare physician claims data were linked to the American Medical Association Physician Masterfile to update published estimates of the number of hospitalists trained in adult primary care specialties and the fraction of the potential PCP workforce they represent. With a similar methodology and using a more conservative definition of hospitalist than in previous studies, results show that over 30% of internal medicine physicians who treat Medicare fee-for-service patients were practicing as hospitalists in 2013, which represents a substantial increase from the 19% identified in 2006.Further, the percentage of PCPs identified as hospitalists has risen consistently for each successive five-year Graduate Medical Education (GME) completion cohort. These results have implications for the ambulatory primary care workforce supply if hospitalists continue to grow in number and make up a consistently larger share of successive primary care–trained GME cohorts.
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