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