A sobering experience later that month, though, had her rethinking things. At a meeting of chief executive officers of health care systems, leaders spoke of hospitals transitioning from profit centers to cost centers. Some of the proposed innovations were startling: “When I heard talk of hospitals at home, and of virtual hospitals, I got a very different sense of our specialty,” said Dr. Afsar.
Still, she said, she’s confident there will be jobs for hospitalists in the future. “We can’t ignore the significant, irrefutable fact that has emerged: Value will prevail. And the only way to deliver that is population health management,” meaning the delivery of high value care at fair cost across the entire human lifespan, she said.
This call can be answered in two ways, said Dr. Afsar. “First, we have to define and deliver value for hospitalized patients every single day. Second, we have to look at what population health management means for our specialty.”
“I encourage us not to be confined by our names,” Dr. Afsar said. Rather, hospitalists will be defined by the attributes that they’ve become known for over the years: “Innovators. Problem solvers. Collaborators. Patient advocates.”