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SHM Announces 2016 Awards of Excellence Winners


The Society of Hospital Medicine (SHM) created the Awards of Excellence Program to honor its members whose exemplary contributions to the hospital medicine movement merit acknowledgment and celebration. In honor of their achievements, recipients of each Award of Excellence receive an all-expense paid trip to SHM’s annual meeting.

Award recipients also receive recognition on stage in front of friends, family, and colleagues at SHM’s annual meeting, in The Hospitalist, and on

Congratulations to this year’s winners:

Clinical Excellence

Mark Thoelke, MD, SFHM


Dr. Thoelke

Dr. Thoelke became the first hospitalist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in 1998 and helped form the Hospital Medicine Division of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis in 2000, one of the first divisions in the U.S. The division is now composed of 70 physicians and eight nurse practitioners and consistently turns in superior performances on clinical outcomes as measured by UnitedHealthcare. The division has led the way with innovations in care models and teaching models and was one of the first to offer a sub-internship experience on the non-teaching service and one of the first to offer co-management with their oncology service in 2002. Dr. Thoelke still spends two-thirds of his time on clinical services and states that his job satisfaction comes largely from patient care and teaching.

Humanitarian Services

Bijay Acharya, MBBS, MD


Dr. Acharya

Dr. Acharya works as a hospitalist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and is currently completing the Harvard Medical School/CRICO Fellowship in Patient Safety and Quality. His humanitarian work started when he was in medical school, where he led many health camps in extremely poor villages, ran blood-donation drives, and established the poor-patient fund. After graduation, Dr. Acharya, with his friends, worked to establish a nonprofit clinic named NyayaHealth (now Possible) to serve the healthcare needs of a very remote district in rural Nepal. Prior to the clinic, there was no physician for more than a quarter million people. Recently, after the massive earthquake in Nepal, Dr. Acharya led the relief efforts for the earthquake victims. Dr. Acharya strongly believes in the capacity of hospitalists to be strong advocates for their patients, peers, and communities, both locally and globally.


Tiffani M. Panek, MA, SFHM, CLHM

Tiffani Panek

Tiffani Panek

Panek is the hospitalist administrator for the Division of Hospital Medicine at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore. She is a Senior Fellow in Hospital Medicine and has also received her Certificate of Leadership in Hospital Medicine (CLHM) from SHM. She has been at Johns Hopkins for more than 12 years and has been instrumental in the significant growth and success of the Division of Hospital Medicine. Within SHM, she has been a member of the Practice Administrators Committee for three years and was recently elected to a two-year term as vice president of SHM’s Maryland Chapter. She is the first administrator to be elected to chapter leadership, to receive the CLHM, and to have an abstract accepted at an SHM annual meeting.

Outstanding Service

Thomas McIlraith, MD, SFHM, CLHM

Dr. McIlraith

Dr. McIlraith

Dr. McIlraith is the chairman of the Hospital Medicine Department at Mercy Medical Group in Sacramento, Calif. He improved patient flow between admissions and rounding with a novel operational system called Central Coordination, and it is now the standard for the Dignity Health facilities in Sacramento. The system markedly improved ED response, on-call hospitalist stress, and patient continuity. He has led many other quality and operational improvements, including unit-based rounding, rapid-response team development, and staff restructuring to improve physician coverage. Most recently, he became a leader in the Patient Experience Movement by developing the “Cognitive/Emotional Disconnect” model for understanding patient experience in hospital medicine. He is a member of the SHM Practice Management Committee.


Vineet Chopra, MD, MSc, FHM

Dr. Chopra

Dr. Chopra

Dr. Chopra is an assistant professor of medicine and research scientist in the Patient Safety Enhancement Program at the University of Michigan and Ann Arbor VA Medical Center. Dr. Chopra’s research efforts are centered on improving the safety of hospitalized patients by preventing hospital-acquired complications. Using peripherally inserted central catheters (PICCs) as a model for this inquiry, his work has focused on quantifying current use of PICCs in hospitalized patients, estimating the risk of complications, and defining innovative ways to improve decision making for these devices. His research has been cited 1,962 times (1,580 times since 2010). He is an associate editor of The American Journal of Medicine and the Journal of Hospital Medicine and will serve as chair of SHM’s Research Committee in 2016.


Alberto Puig, MD, PhD, SFHM

Dr. Puig

Dr. Puig

Dr. Puig has spent his career fully devoted to medical and clinical education. He is an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston and director of the core educator faculty in the Department of Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he leads a unique group of physician-teachers fully devoted to clinical education. He is a regular discussant on educational programs for the academy at Harvard Medical School, and his contributions to medical education and clinical hospital teaching have made him a celebrated teacher and educator. Dr. Puig has played an important role at SHM and in the field of hospital medicine through his efforts as a medical educator; he is an avid student of the history of medicine and has been a frequent presenter at SHM’s annual meeting on this topic.


WellSpan Health, Active Bed Management

Inspired by an HM12 pre-course on Active Bed Management (ABM), MaryEllen Pfeiffer, DO, physician lead for ABM at WellSpan, and William A. “Tex” Landis, MD, medical director of WellSpan Hospitalists, returned to York, Pa., and began brainstorming. After a site visit to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore, a team of hospitalists collaborated with WellSpan nursing (Bonita Trapnell, RN), patient logistics (Marc Mione, RN), case management (Jessica Hagen, RN), and the ED (David Vega, MD, Brian Yetter, PhD) to pilot and implement ABM within WellSpan’s York and Gettysburg hospitals.

With the launch of ABM, Dr. Pfeiffer and Dr. Landis hoped to decrease ED length of stay by standardizing the hospitalist processes surrounding admission orders in computerized physician order entry. Ultimately, ABM at WellSpan has maintained the fastest time-to-admission order entry for any service at York Hospital—a decrease to 10 minutes from 80—with less variation for two years. ABM has also sustained national benchmark ED length of stay when the hospital is functioning at general capacity.

ABM also became instrumental in process and outcome objectives from a number of other hospital-wide initiatives. With ABM, more than 90% of a physician’s patient load is on one medical unit (up from 40%), which allowed the hospitalists to implement structured interdisciplinary bedside rounds (SIBR) on all medical units in York and Gettysburg hospitals. The success of ABM and SIBR allowed a transition-of-care project to focus on efficient discharges. Furthermore, Dr. Pfeiffer led a direct admission task force to improve direct admission referrals, safety, and acceptance, the number of which has since doubled. Without hospitalists’ ongoing leadership and effective teamwork, these significant improvements would not have been possible or sustained. TH

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