From the Society

Launching into the future


Hospital medicine: The next decade

New ideas in HM: Population health management

Building on our strong culture of collaboration as we move forward into this next decade, we have to define how we deliver value in the context of population health management. As hospitalists, we have to push the boundaries of the hospital and provide high-value care beyond our four walls.

How can we do that? I think technology will play a critical role in extending our reach beyond the hospital. As we move toward delivering greater value to our patients, lower acuity patients will receive care in their homes. Telehealth will enable us to monitor and manage these patients remotely while transferring our bedside management to patients’ bedrooms in their own homes. Virtual hospitals will further enable us to evaluate, triage, monitor, and manage patients remotely. Our active engagement in these efforts is critical to ensure the continued growth and value we bring to our patients, our organizations, and our society.

Emerging themes and trends in health care: Transitioning from quality to value

In the next decade, value will prevail. This is not a novel concept – much like how quality was not a new idea in 2008.

Value has been around for a while: There are some robust programs nationally, there is research around the topic, and there are policies with implications for reimbursements. However, the full potential of value has not yet been realized by health care – it exists in individual programs, not in everything we do. The unprecedented number of mergers and acquisitions in health care in 2018 support the fact that the future will belong to those institutions that can deliver the highest quality of care at the most appropriate cost throughout the entire continuum of care.

What are some of the tools that will help us get there? Artificial intelligence and machine learning will improve the predictive value for the care we deliver to individual patients; some preliminary work in this area has already revealed that factors that we previously associated with higher risk of readmissions are not truly predictive. Another emerging technology is blockchain: By creating a single source of truth for our patients’ medical information, it enables us to have dynamic, high-integrity records regardless of which health systems and EHRs have cared for those patients.

I wish you an energizing journey as you launch your future into the next dynamic decade of health care, and I look forward to connecting with you as we continue to build a society that prepares us for the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Dr. Afsar is the president of the Society of Hospital Medicine and the chief ambulatory officer and chief medical officer for the accountable care organizations at UC Irvine Health.

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