Pediatric hospitalist systems versus traditional models of care: effect on quality and cost outcomes

J Hosp Med. 2012 Apr;7(4):350-7. doi: 10.1002/jhm.951. Epub 2011 Oct 3.


Background: Pediatric hospitalist systems are increasing in popularity, but data regarding the effects of hospitalist systems on the quality of care has been sparse, in part because rigorous metrics for analysis have not yet been established. We conducted a literature review of studies comparing the performance of pediatric hospitalists and traditional attendings.

Objective: To determine the effect of pediatric hospitalists on quality and outcome metrics such as length of stay, cost, patient satisfaction, mortality, readmission rates, and use of evidence-based medicine during care.

Results: A Medline literature search identified 11 studies that met criteria for inclusion. Five previously reviewed studies reported lengths of stay between 6% and 14% shorter for hospitalists. Five of the new studies evaluated lengths of stay, with 1 showing significantly lower length of stay and cost for a faculty model, 1 showing lower length of stay for hospitalists for all conditions, 1 for certain conditions only, and 2 showing no statistical difference. Six studies reported on readmission rate, with 4 showing no difference, 1 showing decreased readmissions for hospitalists, and 1 showing decreased readmissions for a traditional faculty service. Hospitalists self-report higher use of evidence-based guidelines. Few differences in patient satisfaction were reported. Mortality on the pediatrics wards is rare, and no studies were adequately powered to evaluate mortality rate.

Conclusion: Hospitalists can improve the quality and efficiency of inpatient care in the pediatric population, but the effect is not universal, and mechanisms underlying demonstrated improvements are poorly understood. We propose 4 components to improve quality and value in hospital medicine systems: investment in comparative effectiveness research involving delivery system interventions, development and implementation of pediatric quality measures, better understanding of improvement mechanisms for hospital medicine systems, and increased focus on quality and value delivered by hospital medicine groups and individuals.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Costs and Cost Analysis / economics
  • Costs and Cost Analysis / standards
  • Hospitalists / economics*
  • Hospitalists / standards
  • Hospitals, Pediatric / economics*
  • Hospitals, Pediatric / standards
  • Humans
  • Quality of Health Care / economics*
  • Quality of Health Care / standards
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome