HM16 course director Melissa Mattison, MD, SFHM, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, took some time out of her busy schedule to chat with The Hospitalist about how the annual meeting program comes together, the continued relevance of SHM meetings, resisting the lure of San Diego beaches, and more.
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Question: There’s a lot packed into just a few days at every annual meeting. What is the process for determining what makes it into the program?
Answer: The annual meeting committee starts meeting in the spring, basically around 12 to 13 months before the annual meeting. So even as the current annual meeting is going on, the next one is well under way in terms of planning.
The annual meeting committee then meets every single week, if not more frequently, by conference call to map out and assign jobs and whatnot to the group. We usually start by reviewing workshops. The workshop proposals are received by SHM through an open-access submission process, whereby pretty much anyone can submit a proposal for a workshop. The annual meeting committee reviews all of the workshops. This year, we had 160 or 170 workshop submissions. We were only able to accept 16, I believe. …
Listen to more of our interview with Dr. Mattison.
At the same time the workshops are being selected, we work with the leaders of practice management, the leaders of the academic and research committees, and the leaders of quality and pediatrics committees to have them help us identify content for their various tracks, suggest speakers and talks. After all of that’s done, we move on to the remaining didactic sessions, and we look at what things were popular in previous years, what things had good reviews, which speakers were highly regarded, etc., and spend some time thinking deliberately about tracks that we feel we ought to include again, like the “Young Hospitalists” track and tracks that we think deserve to be included that haven’t previously been included—those that warrant some sort of attention because of widespread appeal and usefulness to the attendee of SHM.
Q: It’s very easy for hospitalists to stream videos of talks, access literature online, and talk about important topics in online chat rooms. In this day and age, what is the advantage to physically taking part in an annual meeting in an actual brick-and-mortar building?
A: The content itself is enough to draw someone. It’s packed content in terms of topics that would be of interest and benefit to the average hospitalist; pretty much any hospitalist who’s practicing medicine will find multiple, multiple sessions of interest and value. And you don’t have to go far for them. You don’t have to go hunting for them. They’re all there. …
Aside from actual didactics and content of the annual meeting, there’s the value of networking and of collaboration and meeting and talking to hospitalists from around the country and around the world. I mean, I think that one of the biggest values I’ve had is just meeting other people who are facing challenges in their work environment that I have [and learning] how they solve their challenges.
I think the [special interest] groups that meet Monday evening at 4:30 p.m. … those are great opportunities to go and meet people who have interests that are similar to yours or concerns that are similar to yours.
Q: Technology has a presence in the program this year. Why is it so important to highlight this?
A: The challenge of healthcare and incorporating technology into providing care to patients in a way that is efficient and helpful is there. That is a challenge that has been written about by many, many folks. Dr. Bob Wachter gave a whole keynote on it last year. And we’re all seeking ways to work with the technology that we have and identify opportunities to improve the care we’re providing using and harnessing the technology that’s available to us.
So whether that’s with new apps or with figuring out ways to embed decision support into our local systems of care, we need to do that. I think hospitalists are, time and time again, looked at as leaders at their institutions in this domain. It’s going to be 2016, this is the world we live in, and to ignore technology would be foolhardy.
Q: One of the new tracks is focused on post-acute care. Is the importance of the post-acute setting a sign that hospital medicine is, in some ways, reinventing itself?
A: I wouldn’t say reinventing. I think that hospitalists and internists that have become hospitalists have filled the gap in care over the past 20 years. It’s been 20 years since the name “hospitalist” was used in the New England Journal of Medicine. And in that time, the breadth and depth of care that hospitalists provide across the continuum in the acute-care setting has grown. …
Our older patients are often discharged from the acute-care setting but unable to return directly to their home environment safely. [They] require a period of a week or two, or sometimes longer, in a post-acute-care setting to continue to receive both the medical and the physical rehabilitation care that they need. And we know that there are not enough geriatricians in the world, and hospitalists are really sort of stepping up to provide this post-acute care. And it makes sense because the patients are coming from the hospital directly, and a lot of folks would say they’re sicker than ever in the post-acute-care setting. You don’t stay in the hospital for long anymore, and when you get to the post-acute-care setting, often the illness is ongoing but stabilized, and the patient is on the mend from whatever has befallen them. But they still require a fair amount of medical management. So it makes sense that hospitalists are going into that sphere.
Q: How will you go about resisting the temptation to stealthily leave the convention center during the day and hit the beach? Or will you be able to resist?
A: [Laughter.] I do like that question. I think that … I think that the conference, while it’s busy, there’s some time in the evening to go out and have a nice meal or [to] the beach and see friends. And then the last day, if you have time, if you don’t need to race off, you have a good half a day where you could go to the beach, or you could come early and come a day before or stay an extra couple of days and enjoy San Diego.
But I think if you skip the conference for the beach, you’re not doing yourself a service. You’re going to miss out on the opportunity to learn new clinical information, new strategies for communication. You’re also going to miss out on opportunities to network with your colleagues from across the country. TH
Thomas R. Collins is a freelance writer in South Florida.