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A View of the SHM Annual Meeting in Chicago


Editor’s Note:

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.

With regard to providing learning opportunities for a diverse audience:

  • The pre-courses on Thursday allowed attendees to gain in-depth knowledge on practice management, perioperative medicine, and critical care medicine.
  • There were 35 separate presentations in 7 tracks over the 2 days of the main meeting. The clinical, adult clinical, and pediatric clinical tracks covered a wide array of topics, from maternal fetal medicine to acquired pediatric heart disease to addiction medicine. Tracks on quality and patient safety were very well attended, and the academic track included an important update on the hospitalist core curriculum being developed by SHM.
  • There were 10 special interest forums allowing attendees interested in the following subjects to exchange ideas: community based hospitalists, research, education, medical directors, women hospitalists, pediatric hospitalists, family practice hospitalists, geriatric hospitalists, early career hospitalists, and nurse practitioners and physician assistants.
  • The plenary sessions on updates in hospital medicine and pediatric hospital medicine provided excellent reviews of recent research relevant to hospitalists. Bob Wachter’s annual presentation, this year entitled “Hospital Medicine: Still Crazy After All These Years” laid out some important challenges for the hospital medicine movement as it moves into adolescence.

Finally, with regard to demonstrating SHM’s competence and its ability to meet the needs of its members:

  • At the President’s Luncheon, the depth of SHM leadership was evident. Jeanne Huddleston, MD, reported on the significant accomplishments of the past year and handed the torch to SHM’s new President, Steve Pantilat, MD. Steve described his two goals for the upcoming year, the development ofan SHM Research Foundation and an emphasis on the role of hospitalists in palliative care. And Larry Wellikson, MD, SHM’s CEO, displayed energy and charisma throughout the meeting.
  • The power of SHM volunteerism was unmistakable throughout the meeting. Preetha Basaviah, MD, the overall course director, harnessed group of SHM members participating in a planning committee to decide on the topics and choose the speakers for the meeting. A broad cross-section of SHM members participated in over 15 committee meetings in Chicago, as they donated their time to improving the field of hospital medicine.
  • The conference was a vehicle to display the public relations capabilities of SHM. Melanie Bloom, wife of NBC newscaster David Bloom who died in Iraq of DVT complications, described the awareness campaign that SHM led. The attendees then viewed a short video of the television appearances by hospitalists in the last year, as hospital medicine has received increasing attention in the media. Larry Wellikson announced that every SHM member will receive a DVD with these video news segments.
  • The strength of SHM staff and organization was on display in Chicago. Larry Wellikson reported that the staff has more than doubled and he cited a litany of accomplishments, including a new improved website, electronic registration for meetings, a broad range of educational offerings, and a healthy financial outlook. Furthermore, SHM has continued to experience significant membership growth, as the number of members now exceeds 4700, an increase of more than 40% in the past 12 months.
  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Wellikson described a wide variety of initiatives that are being pursued to meet the needs of SHM members. These initiatives include a long range plan for the formal certification of hospitalists, strategic partnerships with key organizations, public policy initiatives, and the continued strengthening of historical efforts regarding education, leadership, and surveys.

In summary, the SHM conference was greater than the sum of the parts. It was successfully executed on multiple fronts. However I have not yet discussed perhaps the most important achievement of this meeting. It served as an opportunity for hospitalists to meet new friends and to reconnect with old colleagues. The Annual Meeting in Chicago created a positive energy that will carry SHM members until we have the opportunity to meet again next year in Washington, DC.

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