The Society of Hospital Medicine recognizes 2016 as the Year of the Hospitalist, commemorating 20 years since the term hospitalist was coined and the Society of Hospital Medicine was formed. Bob Wachter and Lee Goldman sparked the latent hospitalist movement with an article titled ‘The emerging role of ‘hospitalists’ in the American Healthcare System’ in an August 1996 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. Several weeks later, John Nelson and I, both practicing hospitalists, formed the Society of Hospital Medicine (then incorporated in 1997).
An equally important reason to call 2016 the Year of the Hospitalist is that it marks the first full year of participation by a number of large and medium hospitalist practices as Episode Initiators in Medicare’s Bundled Payment for Care Improvement initiative. This is perhaps the most significant development in the field of hospital medicine since patient safety as a discipline transformed the work of hospitalists some 16 years ago. With bundled payments, hospitalist practices are at the vanguard of physicians assuming risk in the Medicare program and launching into alternative payment models on a broad scale. In partnership with Remedy as their Awardee Convener, hospitalist practices are managing more than $4 billion of Medicare spending per year, or about one third of the total BPCI program.