Guest post for The Hospital Leader by David J. Bailey, MD, MBA, President and CEO, Nemours Children’s Health System.
Hospitals, health systems and providers across the country are caught in a parallel universe. We currently operate in a volume-based payment system while experimenting with new strategies to successfully provide high-quality services in the value-based systems that are becoming our future. These payment models reimburse based on the outcomes of care, rather than the amount of services provided. Hospitalists are a vital part of this future by helping improve outcomes, patient satisfaction and cost-management across the continuum of care.
Whether in group practice or employed by hospitals or health systems, the hospitalist is seen as both leader and partner in advancing quality and efficiency. Hospitalists add significant value to contracting or affiliated hospitals through their expertise, access to the resources of their practice or health system, and their focus on continuous improvement.
As healthcare reform gains momentum, so does the demand to add greater value for patients, their families, and all partners in care. Hospitalists are essential to this new model, providing patients with the best care possible, in the least acute setting and at the lowest cost. Beyond just providing care, they are important patient advocates, helping families navigate follow-up care, and communicating with the patient’s primary care physician, therapists and specialists to ensure the best possible outcomes after the patient leaves — and preventing costly readmissions.
Pediatric hospitalists are crucial to keeping quality care local and to sustaining pediatrics for community hospitals of all sizes. Keeping care local to the extent possible is important to children, families and communities. Nemours was an early adopter of both employed physicians and the important role of hospital medicine. We recognized the importance of this model in our own hospitals, and in caring for our patients at collaborating hospitals, allowing us to leverage and scale the more resource-intensive work of our specialists.
If value-based care is defined as whether or not a service is worth what you pay for it, I have no doubt that the continuity and collaboration enabled by hospitalists is a win-win for the patient, the affiliated hospital, the hospitalist practice or health system, and the payers. When it comes down to it, isn’t that what value-based care is really about?
David J. Bailey, MD, MBA, is president and CEO of the Nemours Foundation, an integrated children’s health system with two free-standing hospitals in the Delaware Valley and Florida serving children from across the U.S. and internationally, and operating 40 primary- and specialty-care clinics in four states. Nemours also operates KidsHealth, ranked the No. 1 website for children’s healthcare information, and is renowned for its research and medical education programs. Under Dr. Bailey’s leadership, Nemours has sharpened its strategic focus on becoming a pre-eminent voice for children’s healthcare focused on the whole child and actively engaged in population health and children’s health advocacy initiatives.