The Role of the Hospice Medical Director

The primary responsibility of the Hospice Medical Director (HMD) and other hospice medical physicians who provide care is for the medical component of the hospice’s patient care program. The HMD or hospice medical physician 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 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 or hospice medical physician 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 or hospice medical physician should be involved in education and hospice staff support. Participating and facilitating IDG is an essential part of the 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 those who currently serve or intend to serve as a Hospice Medical Director. Click here to learn more about HMDCB certification. 

"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