Medicolegal Issues

Hospitalists Match PCPs in Patient Satisfaction Scores


A recent study in the Journal of Hospital Medicine that found inpatients are similarly satisfied with the care provided by hospitalists and the care of primary-care physicians (PCPs) should be considered a positive for HM, says lead author Adrianne Seiler, MD, of the Division of Healthcare Quality at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass.1

The results are drawn from scripted patient-satisfaction telephone interviews of 8,295 patients discharged from three Massachusetts hospitals from 2003 to 2009. Starting in 2007, questions were added from the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) federal quality reporting system. Multivariate-adjusted satisfaction scores for physician care quality were only slightly higher for PCPs (4.24 on a five-point scale) than for hospitalists (4.20), with no statistical difference for individual hospitals or for different hospitalist groups.

“What has been passed down as dogma is the discontinuity in care introduced by the hospitalist model,” Dr. Seiler says. But actual data on the effects of the hospitalist model on patient satisfaction are scant. “Our finding that patients essentially were equally satisfied with either model of medical care—that’s huge.”

HCAHPS scores have not been validated to evaluate patient satisfaction with individual hospitalist providers specifically, Dr. Seiler says, but they are standardized nationwide. “Is this the best way to measure patient experience?” she asks. “It’s the best tool we have at this time.”

Another wrinkle in patient satisfaction was presented as an oral research abstract at HM12. Researchers from the Veterans Administration and the University of Michigan examined the association between hospitalist staffing levels and patient satisfaction.2 Hospitals with the highest hospitalist staffing had modestly higher patient satisfaction scores than those with the lowest hospitalist staffing. Overall satisfaction was 65.6 for hospitals in the highest tertile of hospitalist staffing versus 62.7 those in the lowest tertile.


  1. Seiler A, Visintainer P, Brzostek R, et al. Patient satisfaction with hospital care provided by hospitalists and primary care physicians. J Hosp Med. 2012;7:131-136.
  2. Chen L, Birkmeyer J, Saint S, Ashish J. Hospitalist staffing and patient satisfaction in the national Medicare population. Abstract presented at HM12, April 2, 2012, San Diego.

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