Medicare CMO Encourages Hospitalists to Become Experts in Managing Quality Patient Care


“The days of you just graduating residency, seeing as many patients as you can, and you go home at the end of the day—that’s gone for hospital medicine.”

–Patrick Conway, MD, MSc, FAAP, SFHM, chief medical officer, Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Service

Patrick Conway, MD, MSc, FAAP, SFHM, chief medical officer of the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services (CMS), often says that physicians need to come to the proverbial table to tell CMS what they think is best. So it’s fitting that at HM13 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Md., Dr. Conway will be a keynote speaker who can deliver his message of quality through teamwork to more than 2,500 hospitalists.

A pediatric hospitalist who also serves as director of the Office of Clinical Standards and Quality at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C., Dr. Conway will paint a picture of what hospitalists can do to become the quality-improvement (QI) leaders healthcare needs in the coming years in a presentation titled “The Ideal Hospitalist in 2014 and Beyond: Active Change Agent.”

“Are hospitalists going to accept that challenge?” he asks. “I hope they are.”

This is the second year in a row that Dr. Conway will be a plenary speaker. Last year in San Diego, he told a packed room that CMS had to move from a “passive payor to an active facilitator and catalyst for quality improvement,” says Danielle Scheurer, MD, MSCR, SFHM, physician editor of The Hospitalist. Or, in his own words: “better health, better care, and lower cost.”

But many of the issues in his 2012 commentary were in flux. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), now moving through the slow process of implementation, was then still a law very much in doubt. It wasn’t until last summer that the law was upheld by a bitterly divided U.S. Supreme Court and it became clear much of the proposed reforms would move forward.

This year, he will urge hospitalists to step up their focus on patient-centered outcomes and stop questioning whether that should be the way the HM and other physicians should be judged.

“Given the changing context of payment, hospitalists are going to have to become true experts in managing the quality of care,” Dr. Conway says. “The days of you just graduating residency, seeing as many patients as you can, and you go home at the end of the day—that’s gone for hospital medicine.”

Check out our 6-minute feature video: "Five Reasons You Should Attend HM13"

Hospitalists can take charge of quality initiatives via involvement with accountable-care organizations (ACOs), health exchanges, and CMS’ value-based purchasing modifier (VBPM). In part, HM is perfectly positioned to assume leadership roles over the next few years because hospitalists already work across multiple departments.

“Hospital medicine is already ahead of a lot of specialties,” Dr. Conway says. “Hospital medicine physicians are already taking on much larger roles in their systems. I think you’re going to see an increasing trend.”

Richard Quinn is a freelance writer in New Jersey.

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