I want to stress that hospitalists, or in some cases their hospital medicine groups, will need to physically change their specialty affiliation when the code becomes effective. Otherwise, they risk not reaping the benefits associated with the new code and will continue to be evaluated using less-than-optimal benchmarks. The ball is in their court to make the change when the code is available, and SHM will serve as a resource to help ensure they know what to do and when.
Q: Where can someone go to find the code? Will it be available on the CMS website?
Boswell: When the code does become available for use, it will be communicated through various channels at SHM and also through the Medicare Learning Network, the site that houses education, information, and resources for healthcare professionals. It will also likely be distributed through additional Medicare circulars and newsletters.
As more details from CMS become available, we will have more specific information to share with members, including information on our website, webinars with billing and coding experts, email communication, and more. Continue to watch your email and social media channels for the latest updates and information.
Q: What role did SHM play in bringing this code to fruition?
Boswell: We can say with confidence that this effort was driven entirely by SHM. To start, a formal application needs to be filed in order for a code to even be considered. After determining that the benefits associated with this code far outweighed the costs and then receiving the support of our board of directors, SHM’s staff and PPC members collaborated to draft a brief and made the argument for the addition of a hospitalist billing code based on the individual elements CMS requires for consideration.
Due to the fact hospital medicine doesn’t have a board certification, while solid, our argument was far from a slam dunk. After submitting the application, SHM continuously followed up with and pressured CMS through various channels and utilized our grassroots network of hospitalists on the Hill to put this code on legislators’ radars—the result was pressure getting applied from interested members of Congress as well. If it weren’t for the persistent advocacy efforts of SHM and its members over the past several years, this code would not have even been considered, let alone approved.
This is a significant development—to our knowledge, this is the first medical specialty to be granted a code without also having a board certification. We’re thrilled that what we have been advocating for on behalf of our members is now a reality!
For the latest information on the new hospitalist billing code and other important healthcare policy updates, continue to check for SHM emails and follow SHM’s social media channels, including @SHMLive and @SHMAdvocacy on Twitter.
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Brett Radler is SHM’s communications coordinator.