Sharon Mace, MD, Director of the Observation Unit at the Cleveland Clinic kicked off the formal beginning of the conference. They run about 6,000 patients through their 20 bed observation unit at the Cleveland Clinic per year.

Anna Brooks, the Director of Case Management at Sebastian River Medical Center, provided a great overview of the challenges managing hospital observation patients. Her focus is on the process and management (people) issues that surround observation patients. Managing observation patients is a non-trivial task, and Anna provided examples of how they handle observations at Sebatian River. Unlike some hospitals, her hospital does not have a dedicated observation unit, but places observation patients throughout the house. She noted that the Texas Medical Foundation publishes laminated cards for caregivers that serves as a cheat sheet for observation patients - you can download a pdf of the card here. She also recommended this book.

Karen Games is the Regional Utilization Management Director for the California region of Tenet Healthcare. Karen's session focused on case management. Karen's emphasis was on the need for continuous and ongoing focus on the effective management of observation patients. She provided an overview of case management resources and processes needed to effectively manage observation patients. The process for assessing case management departments was particularly interesting. She also mentioned that the pairing of hospitals and physicians is coming down the pike - where the hospital bill and physician bills for the same admission will be compared, and if they don't agree neither will be paid. Karen ended her presentation with specific process and staffing recommendations. Very meaty stuff.

More to come... Pictured right  is one of the new mega condos at sunrise.