Medical Staff

How do hospitalists fit into healthcare reform?

Hospitalist Leadership Connection, April 13, 2010

The U.S. may not be ready for a healthcare system that is based on comparative effectiveness research, in which approaches to medicine are based on outcomes and costs, according to Robert M. Wachter, MD, MHM, in “Understanding the New Vocabulary of Healthcare Reform,” published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine. Instead, healthcare organizations may consider revisiting the concept of fixed payments. Rather than HMOs, however, the healthcare system might want to consider iterations, such as bundling and accountable healthcare organizations, according to the article.

Hospitalist programs can act as accountable healthcare organizations, according to the article. Why? Most hospitalist programs receive payments from the hospital for support and feel justified in helping the hospital provide higher quality, efficient care.

“Everyone is now familiar with the scary trends demonstrating the unsustainable rate of healthcare inflation in the U.S., trends that are projected to lead to the insolvency of the Medicare Trust Fund within a decade,” states the article. “The term bending the cost curve implies that our solvency depends not on lowering total costs (a political impossibility), but rather on simply decreasing the rate of rise. There are only so many ways to do this.”



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