One of SHM’s missions is to advocate policies and positions that support hospital medicine, hospitalists, and our patients. SHM also engages broader issues impacting the delivery, quality, and safety of medical care and lobbies for policies that ensure public health and safety. Legislators, payers, and healthcare administrators use SHM’s policy statements to guide their understanding of and expectations for hospital medicine and its practitioners.
The Public Policy Committee (PPC) is SHM’s primary resource for researching and recommending policy and advocacy positions to the Board of Directors. We respond to issues raised by SHM members, federal and state healthcare legislation, and hospital and health plan policies that affect hospital medicine, hospitalists, and patients.
- In 1999, SHM stood firmly against health plans mandating PCP referral to hospitalists. Our stance defused concerns about hospital medicine raised by primary care physicians and helped to fuel the rapid growth of hospital medicine.
- In 2001, some hospitalists were having hospital privileges withheld because of their designation as hospitalists. The SHM condemned this practice and insisted that hospitalists should be subject to the same privileging and credentialing process as other physicians practicing inpatient medicine.
Recently, SHM members raised concerns over hospitals’ mandating that hospitalists maintain responsibility for patient follow-up after discharge. Based upon the PPC’s research and recommendation, the SHM Board approved a policy clarifying the role of the hospitalist in the continuum of care. (“The Hospitalist,” May/June 2005) This policy will clarify expectations for hospital medicine practices as they develop care management arrangements with hospitals, physicians, and payers.
Currently, the PPC is spearheading several initiatives:
- We are coordinating SHM’s participation in CMS’s 5-year review of valuation of E&M codes.
- In conjunction with a respected health policy analysis firm, we are developing a “hospital medicine White Paper,” which will serve as the definitive description of what hospital medicine is and document its potential to change health care. It will serve as our primary tool to communicate with legislators, policy makers, third-party payers, and healthcare leaders to further the mission and values of hospital medicine as a specialty.
- Finally, the PPC is leveraging our Washington, DC, venue for the 2006 Annual Meeting to organize a “hospital medicine Legislative Day.” At this event, hospitalists will visit legislators to discuss issues of importance to hospital medicine, such as patient safety and allocation of healthcare resources. We hope that this event will further raise awareness of hospital medicine and spur hospitalists to become politically active on behalf of our specialty.
Finally, on behalf of the members of the PPC, I want to thank Mary Jo Gorman for her 2-year stewardship of the Public Policy Committee. Her drive, vision, and enthusiasm were key to many of the successes described above.