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J Korean Med Assoc > Volume 62(11); 2019 > Article
Kim: Current status and future of internal medicine hospitalist in Korea


A hospitalist system was introduced in Korea in September in 2016 to improve the quality of in-patient care and to cope with the shortage of medical residents. This study aimed to outline the current situation of internal medicine hospitalist and to suggest a development strategy. By May 2019, the number of hospitalists in Korea had increased to 124. Patient safety issues, resident law, and the shortage of medical residents has led to an increase in the demand for hospitalists in Korea. Internal medicine hospitalist care in Korea has been associated with patient satisfaction, length of stay, and waiting time in emergency departments. There are three different hospitalist ward models in the Korean health care system, and each hospital needs the model that fits its specific situation. In the general ward model, the role of the hospitalist is similar to that of the chief residents because the wards are categorized into nine subspecialty areas, such as internal medicine (including gastroenterology, pulmonology, and cardiology). In the short-term admission ward model, patients are usually turned around within 72 hours; therefore, the hospitalist is able to care for patients independently. After that, patients are discharged or admitted to a specialty ward. In integrated care model, patients from all specialty areas are admitted to the same ward; therefore, hospitalists care for patients independently. In this model, consultation with specialists is required. There were strengths and weaknesses in each model. Therefore, the models should be considered based on the hospital's function. This study found some problems in the present hospitalist system, including undefined roles and responsibilities, unclear future employment prospects, burnout due to patient’ severity of illness, and inadequate payment systems for weekend and night work. To further develop the hospitalists system in Korea, the Korean government, the Korean associated of internal medicine, hospitals, and hospitalists must work together to solve the present problems.


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