The Role of the Hospice Medical Director

The Hospice Medical Director (HMD) is the physician with primary responsibility for the medical component of the hospice’s patient care program, with supervision of any other hospice physicians at that hospice program. The HMD is responsible for working with an interdisciplinary team (IDT) to provide for the palliation of distressing symptoms and the medical management of those medical conditions contributing to the terminal prognosis. A critical component of the HMD’s role is the determination of prognosis and, certification of hospice eligibility. Included within such certifications is the determination of potential related diagnoses and face-to-face encounters. The HMD involvement with appropriate pharmacy utilization encompasses optimizing palliative management and the identification of non-beneficial, duplicated, and unrelated medications with the goal of reducing polypharmacy and pill burden. The HMD should be an active leader in education and hospice staff support. Participating as an active member of IDT meetings 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 evolving clinical, regulatory, and administrative aspects of hospice care.

"Taking the HMDCB exam is an extremely useful tool for assessing your HMD skill set and knowledge, which can help frame professional development. Being certified is desirable, when you consider the competitive environment within which many of us practice.”

Chief Medical Officer at Hospice Austin, Austin, TX