Psychiatric hospitalists and continuity of care: a comparison of two models

J Psychiatr Pract. 2010 May;16(3):170-6. doi: 10.1097/01.pra.0000375713.85454.8f.


The Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center inpatient psychiatry program underwent a series of substantial changes that led to a shift from a continuity of care (COC) model to a hospitalist environment in 2007. Although similar changes in other fields of medicine (general medicine, pediatrics, surgery, cardiology, and neurology) have been associated with several care benefits, no studies to date have evaluated the potential effects of such a change in models in psychiatry. The shift at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center thus provided a unique opportunity to compare these two models of care and gather evidence about which model may be more beneficial to patients. Data were derived retrospectively from two separate periods of time, one representative of the COC model (July-December 2006) and one representative of the hospitalist model (July-December 2008). The total number of discharges increased significantly from the first to the second period. Although the average length of stay remained similar, the number of readmissions occurring within 30 days of discharge was much lower during the hospitalist period. In addition, patients discharged in the hospitalist period were more likely to attend their outpatient mental health appointments. Findings suggest a preference for the hospitalist model over a COC model.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aftercare / statistics & numerical data
  • Aged
  • Continuity of Patient Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Delivery of Health Care / methods*
  • Delivery of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Services Research
  • Hospitalists*
  • Hospitals, Veterans / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Care Team
  • Patient Discharge / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Readmission / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychiatric Department, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Texas