Published in the January 2016 issue of Today’s Hospitalist
It may be a new year, but this month’s cover story touches on several issues that will seem awfully familiar to hospitalists who aren’t new to the specialty.
Our story on the psychiatric care of medical patients in the hospital examines the challenges of treating a difficult inpatient population. As our coverage points out, the topic of inpatient psychiatric care is closely linked to conversations about comanagement and specialty relations, scope creep, readmission rates, and changing health care reimbursement.
While inpatient psychiatric care makes many hospitalists nervous, hospitals are pushing the specialty to offer more psychiatric care “and to do it better. Hospitals know that patients who need psychiatric care tend to use more resources, and that’s bad news in an environment that is shifting to bundled payments and global fees.
The good news is that hospitalists are teaming up with psychiatrists to come up with ways to provide better, more timely care for these patients. From classic comanagement agreements to hybrid units that give patients “and physicians “much more robust resources, hospitals are stepping up their game when it comes to caring for patients with psychiatric issues.
While these efforts are in their early stages, hospitals are already successfully driving down readmission rates for these patients. Challenges remain, in part because insurers (and hospitals) have long been accustomed to psychiatric care being paid separately from medical care.
Experts are talking about it being a new day in terms of better integration of psychiatric and medical care in hospitals. But that integration is being built on a foundation that’s very familiar to hospitalists: taking on new challenges, and being the go-to doctors within the hospital.
I wish all of you a happy and prosperous New Year.
Editor & Publisher