The Role of the Hospice Medical Director

The Hospice Medical Director (HMD) primary responsibility is for the medical component of the hospice’s patient care program. The HMD is responsible for the palliation of distressing symptoms and the medical management of those medical conditions contributing to the terminal prognosis with an expected survival of six-months or less. A critical component of the HMD’s role is the determination of eligibility on admission and for subsequent recertifications; included within this aspect is the determination of potential related diagnoses and face-to-face encounters.

The HMD involvement with appropriate pharmacy utilization encompasses the identification of non-beneficial, duplicated, and unrelated medications with the goal of reducing polypharmacy and pill burden. The HMD should be involved in education and hospice staff support. Participating and facilitating IDG is an essential part of the HMD’s role. Additional responsibilities include an awareness of the mission of their organization and a familiarity with their policy and procedures, as well as, an up-to-date knowledge of the ever-changing regulatory and administrative aspects of the hospice environment.

The HMDCB certification is intended for all licensed physicians who provide hospice care and currently serve or intend to serve as a Hospice Medical Director. Click here to learn more about HMDCB certification. 

"A physician who seeks certification wants to 'stand out'. I believe that this will encourage ongoing education and skill development - and this will benefit the HPM physician field, as well as the hospice providers."

Gail Austin Cooney, MD HMDC FAAHPM
Chief Medical Officer-Access, TrustBridge Health, Palm Beach, FL