Fifteen years ago, Bob Wachter, MD, MHM, and Lee Goldman, MD, introduced hospital medicine and the term “hospitalist” to modern medicine in an article in the New England Journal of Medicine. In it, they wrote, “we anticipate the rapid growth of a new breed of physicians we call ‘hospitalists’—specialists in inpatient medicine—who will be responsible for managing the care of hospitalized patients in the same way that primary care physicians are responsible for managing the care of outpatients.”
Since that introduction in 1996, the term “hospitalist” has gone from concept to cutting edge, and now to a title that describes more than 30,000 caregivers in hospitals around the world.
The evolution and growth of the hospitalist specialty owes much to Dr. Wachter. In addition to coining the term, he wrote the specialty’s first textbook, led SHM as president in 2000, and in 2010 was one of three HM pioneers honored by SHM as the first group of Masters in Hospital Medicine.
For each of the past three years, Modern Healthcare has listed him as one of healthcare’s most influential physician-executives.
Dr. Wachter used his recent presentation at HM11 to reflect on the growth of hospital medicine, where he showed how the specialty’s early focus on quality and safety puts hospitalists in positions of authority among physicians and hospitals.
Today, he is professor and associate chairman of the Department of Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco and chief of the division of hospital medicine, and chief of the medical service at UCSF Medical Center.
In July, Dr. Wachter was named chair-elect of the American Board of Internal Medicine’s (ABIM) board of directors.