Where Will Savings Come From?
Perhaps ironically for hospitalists, the main source of savings in the BPCI program comes from post-acute care and readmissions. For example, for common conditions like heart failure, COPD, and pneumonia, Medicare spends almost as much on post-acute care and readmissions in the first 30 days after discharge as it does on the index hospitalization.1 As a result, the BPCI program adds further emphasis on preventing readmissions when added to existing pressures, and there is a new premium placed on “right-sizing” the usage of SNF and other post-acute facilities, such as inpatient rehabilitation and long-term acute care hospitals. For hospitalists, this means that new rigor is needed to connect to the post-acute setting, such as determining why a patient is being discharged to a skilled facility.
Another savings pool, called “internal cost savings,” is available to reward decreasing inpatient utilization from, for example, testing, imaging, and implantable devices.
Bundled payment might be the biggest thing to come along for hospitalists since the patient safety movement launched some 16 years ago. Why? Although accountable care organizations have largely focused on ambulatory practice, bundled payment has a major focus on hospital care and on the post-acute care decisions that are made during the hospitalization. If bundled payment proves to be an effective way to pay for—and organize—care, hospitalists will play a central role in the success of this innovation.
In part two of this series, I will explore specific roles hospitalists play in successful bundled payment programs.
Dr. Whitcomb is chief medical officer of Remedy Partners. He is co-founder and past president of SHM. E-mail him at [email protected].