Practice Economics

Medicare Grants Billing Code for Hospitalists


PHILADELPHIAThe 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.

“We see each day that hospitalists are driving positive change in healthcare, and this recognition by CMS affirms that hospital medicine is growing both in scope and impact,” notes Laurence Wellikson, MD, MHM, CEO of SHM. “The ability for hospital medicine practitioners to differentiate themselves from providers in other specialties will have a huge impact, particularly for upcoming value-based or pay-for-performance programs.”

Until now, hospitalists could only compare performance to that of practitioners in internal medicine or another related specialty. This new billing code will allow hospitalists to appropriately benchmark and focus improvement efforts with others in the hospital medicine specialty, facilitating more accurate comparisons and fairer assessments of hospitalist performance.

Despite varied training backgrounds, hospitalists have become focused within their own unique specialty, dedicated to providing care to hospitalized patients and working toward high-quality, patient-centered care in the hospital. They have developed institutional-based skills that differentiate them from practitioners in other specialties, such as internal and family medicine. Their specialized expertise includes improving both the efficiency and safety of care for hospitalized patients and the ability to manage and innovate in a hospital’s team-based environment.

This momentous decision coincides with the twenty-year anniversary of the coining of the term ‘hospitalist’ by Robert Wachter, MD, MHM, and Lee Goldman, MD in the New England Journal of Medicine. In recognition of this anniversary, SHM introduced a year-long celebration, the “Year of the Hospitalist,” to commemorate the specialty’s continued success and bright future.

“We have known who we are for years, and the special role that hospitalists play in the well-being of our patients, communities and health systems,” explains Brian Harte, MD, SFHM, president-elect of SHM. “The hospitalist provider code will provide Medicare and other players in the healthcare system an important new tool to better understand and acknowledge the critical role we play in the care of hospitalized patients nationwide.”

Lisa Zoks is SHM's Vice-President of Communications.


Representing the fastest growing specialty in modern healthcare, SHM is the leading medical society for more than 48,000 hospitalists and their patients. SHM is dedicated to promoting the highest quality care for all hospitalized patients and overall excellence in the practice of hospital medicine through quality improvement, education, advocacy and research. Over the past decade, studies have shown that hospitalists can contribute to decreased patient lengths of stay, reductions in hospital costs and readmission rates, and increased patient satisfaction.

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