The Importance of Pursuing Research at SHM
These efforts are critical to our field and represent one visible way that SHM pursues research. SHM must pursue research because it helps define our field. We must ensure that the questions asked are relevant to hospital medicine and that the interventions tested and solutions advocated reflect the real world.
While we welcome anyone to pursue research in hospital medicine and how to improve the care of hospitalized patients, we must ensure that hospitalists play a key role in conducting this research. Research conducted by non-hospitalists may advocate for unrealistic interventions or result in research that is not representative of our field. As the organization that represents hospitalists, SHM can also ensure that research asks the right questions and finds practical solutions with real-world applicability.
For example, SHM should promote:
- Research about best practices, innovations in care delivery, and implementation of known beneficial treatments;
- New approaches to system issues, including error reduction, inpatient-outpatient communication, information systems and transitions; and
- Clinical trials of common inpatient conditions, such as pneumonia and acute decompensated heart failure.
By playing a central role in research, SHM can also advocate for community-based initiatives that ensure research occurs where the majority of patients are cared for.
If we fail to lead in research someone else will, and others will be able to define best practices in hospital medicine. We should not let others define hospital medicine. We took a critical step in defining our field by developing and publishing the core competencies in hospital medicine. Research will be another important way for us to delineate our field. Finally, if SHM does not pursue research we risk losing our academic credentials as a society and a field. Ultimately it will be difficult to succeed as a field and specialty if we do not succeed in academic centers because that is where students and residents—the hospitalists of tomorrow—choose their careers. Hospitalists are great teachers and role models for students and residents. However, in order to ensure that the role models and teachers flourish, we need to pursue research so hospital medicine remains a legitimate part of the academic mission.
SHM Research Initiatives
Although JHM may be the most visible sign of research at SHM, it is not the only one. Research projects directly sponsored by SHM include a demonstration project evaluating interventions to improve care of patients with heart failure, a planned survey of hospitalist involvement in managing heart failure in the emergency department and observation units, and a project to develop and evaluate a tool kit to support discharge planning for elders.
I am especially proud that each of these projects involves community and academic hospitalist programs. The SHM Research Committee, chaired by Andy Auerbach, MD, has played a key role in defining a vision for research at the SHM, and I thank Dr. Auerbach and the committee for their efforts and guidance. I am also delighted that SHM recently hired Kathleen Kerr as a senior advisor for research. Kerr’s extensive experience with hospitalists, quality improvement, and research at the University of California, San Francisco, makes her the ideal person to help spearhead this important initiative at SHM. Taken together we have a strong foundation for our research initiative and ensuring that SHM plays a key role in helping to define and shepherd research in hospital medicine.
The Future of Research at SHM
As difficult as it is to publish the first issue of a new journal, the real challenge will be to publish the second issue and beyond. Sustaining the quality and breadth reflected in the first issue will take the combined efforts of the entire editorial staff at JHM, all hospitalists, and all others interested in improving the care of hospitalized patients.