Specialized Care

Fierce Healthcare reported on a new study about specialists in the nursing home industry. JAMA recently published a study showing the number of doctors and advanced practitioners who specialize on nursing home care increased by more than a third between 2012 and 2015.

The number of specialists rose from 5,127 to 6,857, an increase of 33.7%. Researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at UPenn suggests the trend is a new specialty in medical practice. Physiatrists are doctors trained in rehabilitation. The Patient Driven Payment Model pays skilled nursing facilities for the specialization. The physiatrists bill ICD-10 codes that brought higher payments.

It’s too early to suggest a benefit in quality of care but it can’t hurt. Logically, clinicians who practice exclusively in nursing homes should improve outcomes and reduce costs by bringing expertise to processes of care.

Some doctors supplement their income with a job as medical director at a nursing home but they often have no specialty or unique qualifications. Adding specially trained doctors to rehab, pain management and other efforts could boost outcomes and the bottom line simultaneously.