It’s a little like giving birth: A nine-month-long process that started last January with the excitement and anticipation of launching the survey and encouraging as many hospital medicine groups (HMGs) as possible to participate. Then the long, drawn-out process of analyzing data, organizing everything into tables and charts, drafting the report, and reviewing it over and over until our eyes crossed. Watching it grow and take shape before our eyes, with a few small hiccups along the way. Then the agonizing process of copyediting, designing (both print and digital versions), and printing—a point at which, like all expectant parents, we said, “Enough already. When will this ever end?”
But we (that is, SHM’s Practice Analysis Committee) finally have a baby, and what proud parents we are! SHM’s 2016 State of Hospital Medicine Report (SoHM) should be available in early October, and the cover story for this issue of The Hospitalist previews some of the key findings.
I want to let you know what’s new and different about this year’s report and to explain why we made some of the changes we did. First, we had an opportunity this year to ask some questions that haven’t appeared in previous surveys, including:
- The percentage of the hospital’s total patient volume the HMG was responsible for caring for
- The presence of hospitalists within the HMG focusing their practice in a specific medical subspecialty, such as critical care, neurology, or oncology
- The annual dollar value of CME allowances for hospitalists
- The utilization of prolonged service codes by hospitalists
- Charge capture methodologies being used by HMGs
- For academic HMGs, the dollar amount of financial support provided for nonclinical work
- Questions regarding non-physician practice administrators that were asked in 2012 but not in 2014
One big change that users of the digital version will see is a much more user-friendly interface with vastly improved search and navigation features. This will be an enormous improvement over the essentially static PDF versions of previous years, and we’re very excited about it.
The other major change that all users will note is that beginning this year, SHM will no longer report findings broken out by employment model (e.g., hospital/IDS-employed versus management companies versus private local hospitalist groups, etc.). We know this will be a disappointment to some, but with the consolidation that has occurred in the management company space over the last couple of years, we found it would be difficult, if not impossible, to protect the confidentiality of information supplied by the largest management companies if the data are reported separately. Because of their sheer size, these mega-companies will be disproportionately represented in the survey results, and their identities and operational details might become apparent.
It’s crucial that management companies continue to be represented in SHM survey data because they represent an important and growing segment of the hospital medicine workforce. SoHM wouldn’t present a true picture of the hospital medicine field without them. We hope to continue to protect the confidentiality of all data and encourage more management companies to participate in future surveys while still providing meaningful information to our users. TH
Leslie Flores is a member of SHM’s Practice Analysis Committee and a partner in Nelson Flores Hospital Medicine Consultants.