Home From The Editor Observation care: your new service line?

Observation care: your new service line?

June 2016
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Published in the June 2016 issue of Today’s Hospitalist

For the last few years, a lot of talk in hospital medicine has centered on the specialty’s growing role in post-acute care. Payers like Medicare are so focused on getting patients out the door, the thinking goes, that we may need fewer physicians working in the hospital.

While it’s certainly true that policy-makers are focusing on how to improve post-acute care, this month’s cover story shows that there’s still plenty of work to do within the four walls of most hospitals. That article looks at the growing role that hospitalists play in managing observation patients.

One thing is clear: Observation care is ripe for improvement, especially when hospitals can’t get their observation length of stay in line. For many hospitals, Medicare’s two-midnight rule is hurting their finances, as well as upsetting patients who find themselves with big outpatient bills and no post-discharge benefits.

Who better to tackle this mess than hospitalists? That’s the thinking of a growing number of hospitals, which are putting their hospitalists in charge of observation care.

While hospitalists are the go-to physicians for all kinds of initiatives in and around the wards, they are also well-suited for observation care. The skills they have honed over the years—making discharges more efficient, standardizing protocols, teaming up with advanced practice providers, paying attention to patient satisfaction—are exactly what’s needed.

The future of hospital medicine may lie in embracing some care outside the hospital. I just hope that in the rush to embrace post-acute care, hospitalists don’t overlook opportunities right under their noses. Observation care is a perfect example.

edoyleEdward Doyle
Editor & Publisher
edoyle@todayshospitalist.com