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Personalized Hospital Care: March 6, 2011

They're designed to respond to your every need during your stay in the hospital. No, we're not talking about nurses, we're talking about hospitalists. "In the last 13 years, we've added about 36,000 hospitalists," says Dr. Sumeet Shetty, a hospitalist working with Lee Memorial Health System.

Hospitalists have evolved from what's called intelli-medicine. It may sound complex but in actuality, the approach is simple. "It's a liason between the patient and any kind of specialists. If there's a time lag, and something happens, there's red flags, the initial evaluation is done by a doctor and they're based in the hospital."

Here's how it works: when a patient is admitted, he or she is assigned a hospitalist or two. The hospitalist will oversee your care, answer your questions, and address concerns. It's like having your own personal physician at the ready during your stay. "Focus on face to face patient contact. That's what we've done the last few years and we've found a lot of difference."

The hospitalists will also report your progress to your primary care doctor or specialist. Dr. Shetty says this type of care is just the beginning. "There are now pediatric hospitalists evolving, surgical hospitalists evolving, it's the way healthcare is being delivered across the country."

In fact, you may even hear the term hospitalist at your next annual exam or visit to the doctor. Dr Shetty says many physicians are educating patients on this concept so there isn't any confusion in the event they, or a loved one, is admitted into the hospital.