Blog Post

3 innovative service lines advancing population health goals

October 16, 2018

    Editor's note: This story was updated on October 25, 2018.

    Health systems have long used services lines as an organizational model for specialty care. Service lines integrate services such as orthopedics and neurosciences into a single administrative structure. In the legacy fee-for-service market, the service line model helped many systems organize strategy, grow services, and plan investments.

    As risk-based payment models proliferate, some health systems are creating new, less traditional service lines for a different purpose—advancing population health goals. These systems hope to apply the organizational benefits of service lines for the following objectives:

    • Create leadership structure over services that manage a high proportion of chronic conditions;
    • Coordinate care for complex patients during their transition from inpatient care to other settings; and
    • Focus attention on metrics critical to achieving risk incentives, such as readmissions and utilization appropriateness.

    So what are these new-in-kind service lines? Here are three examples.

    1. General medicine service line

      A general medicine service line unites previously independent inpatient silos (e.g., pulmonology, infectious disease), focusing on specific chronic conditions commonly present in the inpatient population (e.g., diabetes, mental illness). General medicine service line leadership coordinate with core services such as the ICU and oversee care management for complex patients. This strategy is most beneficial for organizations looking to address inpatient-focused, value-based care metrics but may be a ways off from entering into formal population health contracts.

    2. Behavioral health service line

      Health systems create a dedicated behavioral health service line to signal it as a top priority to staff and the community. Behavioral health service lines should extend across a continuum of care settings and services, including primary care integration, ED-based services or emergency telepsychiatry, and inpatient psychiatric beds. It must address common barriers across low-, moderate-, and high-acuity behavioral health patients and allocate resources to identify, treat, and manage targeted patient segments.

    3. Geriatric medicine

      Geriatric medicine service lines link disparate programs focused on seniors’ needs and treatment preferences. These existing programs can include a geriatric ED, Acute Care for the Elderly (ACE) unit, house call program, and geriatric assessment outpatient center. Providers establish this line when the elderly are of unique strategic importance and impact risk performance (e.g., ACO model).

    Considering a population health-focused service line? We can help.

    Let us help you out. Schedule a discussion with our service line experts by emailing Shay Pratt at pratts@advisory.com.

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