David Meltzer M.D., Ph.D.

Director, Center for Health and the Social Sciences
University of Chicago
Email: dmeltzer@medicine.bsd.uchicago.edu Discipline: Medicine, Economics

Investigator Award
Hospitalists and American Medicine: A Quantitative History of a New Medical Specialty
Award Year: 2007 The emergence of hospitalists - physicians who specialize in the medical care of hospitalized patients - represents a major transformation in the practice of modern American medicine. Over the past decade, the field has grown from a few hundred physicians to more than 20,000. David O. Meltzer, M.D., Ph.D. believes that many factors may have contributed to this growth - from shifts in the nature and organization of primary care to Medicare payment incentives that make it more profitable for hospitals to discharge patients quickly. His project, Hospitalists and American Medicine: A Quantitative History of a New Medical Specialty, investigates the rise of the hospitalist movement, its effects on the organization of patient care in hospitals and ambulatory care settings, the potential contributions of hospitalists to improving health care quality, and how their emergence might help inform broader efforts aimed at reorganizing the practice of medicine. His findings should shed light on some of the forces and special interests at play in rethinking the roles of primary care physicians and medical specialists in the United States.


David Meltzer is professor in the departments of medicine, economics, and the graduate school of public policy studies at the University of Chicago, where he directs the Center for Health and the Social Sciences, the Program in Hospital Medicine, and the M.D./Ph.D. Program in Medicine and the Social Sciences. His research is focused in two main areas: the cost and quality of hospital care and the theoretical foundations of medical cost-effectiveness analysis. A major focus of his work on hospitals has been studies of the effects of physicians who focus their practice on inpatient care (hospitalists) on the costs and outcomes of care. He has enrolled over 80,000 patients in these studies since 1997, developing the inpatient medicine services at the University of Chicago Medical Center as a laboratory for applied social science research. Meltzer has served on numerous federal advisory committees, including the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Healthy People 2020, several IOM committees, and Medicare Trustees committee on the long run financial viability of Medicare. He received his B.S. in economics and molecular biophysics and biochemistry from Yale in 1986, his Ph.D. in economics in 1992 and M.D. in 1993 from the University of Chicago, and completed his residency in internal medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in 1996.