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JAMA Intern Med. 2017 Dec 1;177(12):1781-1787. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.5824.

Comparison of Hospital Resource Use and Outcomes Among Hospitalists, Primary Care Physicians, and Other Generalists.

Author information

Center for Healthcare Delivery Science, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts.
Division for Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts.
Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Baltimore, Maryland.
Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.
Center for Healthcare Delivery Science and Innovation, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.
Section of Pulmonary and Critical Care, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.
Division of General Medicine and Primary Care, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts.



A physician's prior experience caring for a patient may be associated with patient outcomes and care patterns during and after hospitalization.


To examine differences in the use of health care resources and outcomes among hospitalized patients cared for by hospitalists, their own primary care physicians (PCPs), or other generalists.

Design, Setting, and participants:

This retrospective study analyzed admissions for the 20 most common medical diagnoses among elderly fee-for-service Medicare patients from January 1 through December 31, 2013. Patients had at least 1 previous encounter with an outpatient clinician within the 365 days before admission, and diagnoses were restricted to the 20 most common diagnosis related groups. Data were collected from Medicare Parts A and B claims data, and outcomes were analyzed from January 1, 2013, through January 31, 2014.


Physician types included hospitalists, PCPs (ie, the physicians who provided a plurality of ambulatory visits in the year preceding admission), or generalists (not the patients' PCPs).

Main Outcomes and Measures:

Number of in-hospital specialist consultations, length of stay, discharge site, all-cause 7- and 30-day readmission rates, and 30-day mortality.


A total of 560 651 admissions were analyzed (41.9% men and 59.1% women; mean [SD] age, 80 [8] years). Patients' physicians were hospitalists in 59.7% of admissions; PCPs, in 14.2%; and other generalists, in 26.1%. Primary care physicians used consultations 3% more (relative risk, 1.03; 95% CI, 1.02-1.05) and other generalists used consultations 6% more (relative risk, 1.06; 95% CI, 1.05-1.07) than hospitalists. Lengths of stay were 12% longer among patients cared for by PCPs (adjusted incidence rate ratio, 1.12; 95% CI, 1.11-1.13) and 6% longer among those cared for by other generalists (adjusted incidence rate ratio, 1.06; 95% CI, 1.05-1.07) compared with patients cared for by hospitalists. However, PCPs were more likely to discharge patients home (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 1.14; 95% CI, 1.11-1.17), whereas other generalists were less likely to do so (AOR, 0.94; 95% CI, 0.92-0.96). Relative to hospitalists, patients cared for by PCPs had similar readmission rates at 7 days (AOR, 0.98; 95% CI, 0.96-1.01) and 30 days (AOR, 1.02; 95% CI, 0.99-1.04), whereas other generalists' readmission rates were greater than hospitalists' rates at 7 (AOR, 1.05; 95% CI, 1.02-1.07) and 30 (AOR, 1.04; 95% CI, 1.03-1.06) days. Patients cared for by PCPs had lower 30-day mortality than patients of hospitalists (AOR, 0.94; 95% CI, 0.91-0.97), whereas the mortality rate of patients of other generalists was higher (AOR, 1.09; 95% CI, 1.07-1.12).

Conclusions and Relevance:

A PCP's prior experience with a patient may be associated with inpatient use of resources and patient outcomes. Patients cared for by their own PCP had slightly longer lengths of stay and were more likely to be discharged home but also were less likely to die within 30 days compared with those cared for by hospitalists or other generalists.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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