Having returned from the 8th SHM Annual Meeting at the time of this writing, it is clear that this was not only the biggest but also the best Annual Meeting to date. As Larry Wellikson and Joe Miller describe more fully in this issue, the lectures, workshops and networking activities available far outstripped the ability of attendees to take part in all of them. In fact, it was common to feel that there were 2, 3, or even more “must attend” sessions taking place simultaneously and if this was sometimes frustrating, it also spoke to the fact that the meeting’s quality was strikingly high. With the realization that a collection of articles is unable to fully convey the vibrancy of the meeting, we have assembled in the following section a “Big Picture” from imbedded reporter Joe Miller, overviews of 2 of the plenary lectures, and recaps of several outstanding breakout sessions. A separate monograph that will include other highlights of the Annual Meeting is under development and will be mailed in August.―JP
I was invited to write a short piece for The Hospitalist summarizing SHM’s 8th Annual Meeting on Thursday, April 28 through Saturday, April 30 in Chicago. As I sat on the airplane on my return flight to Boston, I reflected on what would define a “successful” annual meeting for the professional society representing hospitalists. I concluded that three criteria would define success. Specifically that the conference would:
- Demonstrate the strength and resiliency of the hospital medicine movement
- Provide quality content and learning opportunities to a diverse group of attendees
- Demonstrate that SHM is a competent and effective organization meeting the needs of its members.
I believe the meeting measured up extremely well on all three criteria.
With regard to demonstrating the vibrancy of the hospital medicine movement:
- At the conference, there was recognition by three significant stakeholders in the healthcare industry (hospitals, employers, and regulators) of the critical role of hospitalists. In the opening keynote address, Rick Wade, Senior Vice President of the American Hospital Association, described the growing pressure on hospitals to be “transparent,” sharing information with patients and the public on their performance. Mr. Wade’s address was followed by a presentation by Arnold Milstein, MD, Medical Director of the Pacific Business Group on Health and cofounder of the Leapfrog Group. Dr. Milstein used the metaphor of a shark’s jaws to describe the threat of the continued escalation of healthcare costs, and he indicated that the key to addressing this crisis is to “re-engineer” clinical processes to make them more efficient. On Saturday, Dennis O’Leary, CEO of JCAHO, described the challenge of evaluating the performance of hospitals in the era of patient safety. All three speakers indicated that hospitalists will be critical resources to healthcare leaders faced with these challenges. Another measure of the recognition of hospitalists as a force in the healthcare industry was the fact that over 90 exhibitors wanted the opportunity to get the ear of the conference attendees. The exhibit floor was teeming with hospitalists interested in learning about programs, products, and services.
- The growth of the hospital medicine movement was clearly evident to attendees of the conference. This year’s conference had over 1000 attendees,a growth of 15% over the 2004 annual meeting. When Alpesh Amin, MD, co-director of the course, opened the meeting, the attendees responded to a series of questions through the audience response system. For over 50% of the attendees, this was their first SHM Annual Meeting, indicating that the specialty of hospital medicine has a constant influx of “new blood.” And at the President’s Luncheon, the presentation by Larry Wellikson, MD, CEO of SHM, conveyed a broad array of statistics on the status of the hospital medicine movement, including the fact that the 12,000+ hospitalists in the U.S. makes the specialty bigger than gastroenterology and neurology. Approximately 30% of all U.S. Hospitals have hospital medicine programs; for hospitals with over 200 beds, 55% have hospitalists.
- The excellence of the hospital medicine movement was evident through the quality of the 120+ research, innovation, and clinical vignette posters presented on Friday. Furthermore, the accomplishments of the SHM award winners announced at the President’s Luncheon were quite impressive. Joseph Li, MD, won the award for Outstanding Service in Hospital Medicine, Sunil Kripalani, MD, was named the Outstanding Young Investigator, Shaun Frost, MD, won the Clinical Excellence award, and Jeff Wiese, MD, won the award for Excellence in Teaching. Hospitalists are demonstrating their ability to be innovative, high impact physicians.