The government will allow all general hospitals and the wards that use integrated nursing care service to participate in the hospitalist system.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare said Tuesday it would extend the pilot program, in which hospitalists provide all the medical care for inpatients, beyond the initial deadline of December. The ministry said it would expand the program to all general hospitals, and additionally pick institutions to take part in it from Wednesday.
Hospitalists are specialists who provide all the medical service for inpatients, ranging from initial examination to progress monitoring, counseling and discharge planning.
The government adopted the hospitalist system in September 2016 and has been carrying out the pilot program to enhance the safety of hospitalized patients, upgrade the efficiency of medical care, and improve the working environment for medical residents.
Currently, 15 general hospitals and 56 hospitalists are participating in the pilot program. Hospitalists are stationed at hospital wards designated to conduct the pilot project, where separate medical fees are charged in addition to existing hospital bills.
The government has run the program for large hospitals with more than 300 beds. However, all general hospitals and larger medical institutions will be qualified to participate in the program. It will also accept the applications anytime.
Moreover, the government has opened the program to hospital wards that offer integrated nursing service by registered nurses and caregivers, which had been excluded to evaluate the effects of the pilot program.
"In the U.S. and other countries, the introduction of hospitalists reduced the length of hospitalization and the rehospitalization rate, improved the quality of medical service, and reduce the number of medical accidents. The system was effective to raise patient safety," said Kwak Soon-heon, director of the ministry’s Healthcare Resource Policy Division. “We plan to turn it into a full-scale program after assessing the appropriateness of medical fees under the system, by the end of this year.”
The ministry notified the recent changes in bidding procedure and detailed guidelines concerning the program on its website. Hospitals wanting to participate in the pilot program can submit applications to the ministry and the Health Insurance Review & Assessment Service.
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