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Service Lines, Integration, and Population Health

Michael Zeis, for HealthLeaders Media, June 13, 2013
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Rogers explains that it is vital to include primary care physicians in the discussions about the new roles for service lines. "Generally speaking, the primary care physicians in traditional patient care would send the patient to specialties relatively quickly, whenever the primary care physician has gotten anything that seems a little bit complicated. Now there is going to be more focus on those primary care docs managing really complex patients and hanging on to those patients and only accessing the specialists when they truly need them from a proceduralist's perspective or when [the patient] gets to a high-end state. That's why bringing the primary care physician in as a component when thinking about how to build and grow your service lines is going to be really critical to me in the future."

The continuum of care

Nowhere in the survey results can we see the emphasis on the continuum of care demonstrated in a stronger fashion than in the near universal acknowledgment of the importance of outpatient programs and postacute care to service line success. Overall, 98% say that outpatient programs are very important or somewhat important to service line success. Similarly, 86% say postacute care programs are somewhat or very important.

"If we are truly effective about keeping patients healthy," says MHSA's Rogers, "in the future when you think about population health management, it means that there will probably be fewer patients in the inpatient setting."

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