Approval of CMS Hospitalist Billing Code Tops Latest SHM Media Highlights

By  |  March 4, 2016 | 

Media Monitoring Report: February 18 – March 3, 2016

This edition of SHM Media Highlights features the introduction of a CMS billing code for hospitalists, potential approval of the pediatric hospitalist subspecialty, hospitalist and hospital medicine group spotlights, readmission penalties and more.

SHM’s advocacy and public policy staff have been leading the way with the Public Policy Committee to push CMS to recognize hospitalists with their own billing code. Their efforts have finally paid off and at the end of February, CMS officially announced the approval of a dedicated billing code just for hospitalists, which will ensure more accurate benchmarking for performance measurement. In related news, the American Board of Pediatrics have provided initial approval toward subspecialty status for pediatric hospital medicine.

SHM members Drs. Sanjay Saint and Courtney O’Rourke were highlighted for their exceptional dedication to patient care – Dr. Saint in the Ann Arbor News for winning the Mark Wolcott Award for Excellence in Clinical Care Delivery and Dr. O’Rourke for her significant contributions to the University of California San Diego Health System’s hospitalist program. Another success story comes from the regional publication the Bradford Era, highlighting the recent growth in size and satisfaction rates related to the hospitalist program at Bradford Regional Medical Center in Bradford, PA.

A recent Modern Healthcare article published research that debunked the rumors of hospitals placing patients in observation status to avoid readmission penalties. While readmission rates dropped significantly over the last eight years in the sites studied, the number of Medicare observation claims did not increase enough to account for any changes.

Lastly, Forbes published two stories with implications for hospital medicine – the rise of physician assistant demand that now rivals that of primary physicians and the growing popularity of concierge healthcare in hospitals, which is considered by some to be one of the most financially vibrant areas in healthcare. There continues to be controversy surrounding the ethics of this model.


Media Highlights: February 18 – March 3, 2016 

Medicare Grants Billing Code for Hospitalists
The Society of Hospital Medicine (SHM) is pleased to announce the introduction of a dedicated billing code for hospitalists by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). This decision comes in response to concerted advocacy efforts from SHM for CMS to recognize the specialty. This is a monumental step for hospital medicine, which continues to be the fastest growing medical specialty in the United States with over 48,000 practitioners identifying as hospitalists, growing from approximately 1,000 in the mid-1990s.

February 26, 2016
The Hospitalist (Reprint of press release)
 (For a more in-depth look at the implications of the new billing code when it becomes available for use.)


Pediatric hospitalists get initial OK in quest for subspecialty status
The American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) has provided initial approval toward subspecialty status for pediatric hospital medicine (PHM) in response to a petition filed by the Joint Council of Pediatric Hospital Medicine (JCPHM). While this represents a significant milestone, subspecialty status for PHM will next be considered by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) prior to final authorization.

February 25, 2016
APP News



Ann Arbor VA doctor wins top national award
The Department of Veterans Affairs awarded hospitalist Dr. Sanjay Saint the Mark Wolcott Award for Excellence in Clinical Care Delivery. The award is the highest honor for healthcare providers in the system. Ann Arbor VA Health System chief of staff Dr. Eric Young said Saint was nominated by the hospital’s leadership team for the award due to his long record of exceptional work.

February 22, 2016
Ann Arbor News


The Doctor Is In: Hospitalists Take Lead Roles in Coordinating Care
Elizabeth Calkins is having a good morning: She has just gotten a doctor’s blessing that strawberry parfaits would be a healthful addition to her diet, and she’s being discharged from the hospital. An oncology patient, Calkins has shed pounds and could use some extra calories. She hugs her doctor Courtney O’Rourke, DO, a hospitalist at UC San Diego Health and a member of one of the fastest growing specialties in medicine. O’Rourke is one of the nation’s estimated 44,000 practicing hospitalists, representing a new breed of primary care physician who spends his or her workdays taking care of hospitalized patients.

February 27, 2016
UCSD Health Newsroom



Hospitalist program doing well at BRMC
If you’ve recently been admitted to Bradford Regional Medical Center, you were probably not visited by your primary care doctor. Instead, someone new likely cared for you – a hospitalist. The physician specializes in the practice of hospital medicine and the care of hospitalized patients. And since being introduced at the Upper Allegheny Health System member facility in December, the hospitalist program has been a success, said Dr. William Mills, senior vice president for quality and professional affairs at Upper Allegheny.

February 19, 2016
Bradford Era



No, hospitals aren’t gaming readmissions with observation claims, HHS says
Fewer patients are returning to the hospital within 30 days of discharge, and it’s not because hospitals are holding patients in observation units instead of admitting them as a means of avoiding penalties, according to new federal data. Readmission rates dropped significantly for more than 3,300 U.S. hospitals between 2007 and 2015. A small increase in the number of Medicare observation claims was also seen at that time. But researchers say the changes in observation stays can’t account for the drops in readmission rates.

February 24, 2016
Modern Healthcare



Physician Assistant Demand Rivals That of Primary Care Doctors
The most frequently placed medical care provider has long been primary care doctors like family physicians and internists as well as hospitalists, who are generally trained in internal medicine and work exclusively inside a hospital. But a new report by The Medicus Firm, a national doctor staffing and placement firm shows it’s not physicians, but physician assistants who are climbing the ranks on the healthcare profession’s demand scale. PAs, as they are known in the healthcare industry, are more desired than most specialist physicians.

February 19, 2016



Many Hospitals Will Embrace Concierge Healthcare
While concierge healthcare comes in a variety of service delivery models, there is a retainer-based component to paying the providers. There are many reasons for the growth of concierge medicine such as the preference of many people for expedited access to high-caliber physician talent. Another very important reason for the appeal of concierge healthcare is that it can mitigate the financial pressures felt by a solid percentage of physicians and medical institutions.  

February 22, 2016

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About the Author:

Brett Radler
Brett Radler is the Marketing Communications Manager at the Society of Hospital Medicine (SHM) and has been with the organization since May 2015. He is responsible for managing SHM’s blog, The Hospital Leader. In addition, Brett develops content for SHM’s monthly newsmagazine, The Hospitalist, develops and refines SHM-branded content for multiple communications channels and oversees SHM's online communities. Brett holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ and also serves as on-air talent at a New Jersey radio station in his spare time.


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