The timing was perfect for Dr. Syed Raza, Vice President of Medical Operations for CHI St. Luke’s Health-TheWoodlands Hospital. Following his residency in 1999, he decided to focus on what was then a budding specialty: hospitalist.

A little more than 20 years ago, no one had even given his job a title. But since 1996, when the term hospitalist was coined, their numbers have grown to more than 57,000 nationwide. Hospitalists are physicians who specialize in treating hospitalized patients of other physicians. They keep a patient’s care moving forward while keeping everyone in the loop. Their numbers and importance are growing, particularly in their ability to reduce the length of a patient’s stay. A patient whose care has been co-managed by a hospitalist averages 3.8 days in a hospital setting with no adverse effect on rates of death or readmission. A patient who was not seen by a hospitalist averaged 5.5 days.

Being part of a system as large as Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) has given Dr. Raza a broader perspective on the possibilities for expanding and improving their role. “Before we became part of CHI, we compared ourselves to other hospitals in Houston,” he says. “When we become part of CHI, we saw people doing stuff better than us. When we get together as a hospitalist subsection, we see a lot of people thinking the same way we’re thinking in terms of being highly effective and more efficient.”

Dr. Raza notes that the ultimate goal is to become a destination for hospitalists.

“We want to get to a point where they say ‘CHI is the place to practice.' We want to be the place where they come and they stay. That’s when you’ll see the biggest improvements in quality and safety and physician engagement.”