For a moment, put yourself in a hospital administrator’s shoes—more specifically, those of a hospital administrator who is looking to hire a handful of new hospitalists. You know the job duties you need to fill. You know what qualifications a candidate should have. You even know the hours you need covered.
But there remains one gaping hole in the job description: compensation.
—Tex Landis, MD, FHM, SHM Practice Analysis Committee chairman
The question of how much to offer hospitalists who are in the market for a new job—and, conversely, how much they can demand—has bedeviled the specialty since its inception. And, as HM continues its exponential growth throughout the national healthcare landscape, the devil is in the details. How does an administrator or HM group leader take into account years of experience in compensation? Do nocturnists demand more or less? What about shift work?
That picture will get clearer in 2010, thanks to a new partnership between SHM and the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA). Together, the two groups are embarking on an ambitious new research project to provide hospital administrators and hospitalist practice leaders a comprehensive—and credible—set of data on hospitalist compensation and productivity. The data will be published in an annual report issued jointly by SHM and MGMA.
Previously, data available to hospitalists about the state of HM were researched and published by SHM every two years. The new partnership builds on the society’s original work by using questions similar to the SHM survey, but will add MGMA’s authority on such subjects and analytical firepower.
The SHM-MGMA partnership will provide two major improvements to HM and hospital administrators: the annual publication of results and MGMA’s stamp of approval to the research.
New data every year is a welcome change for David Friar, MD, president of Hospitalists of Northwest Michigan in Traverse City. “Things in hospital medicine continue to change very quickly. By the time new data is published, it’s already a few months old,” Dr. Friar says. “Doing the survey on the annual basis will be very useful to us.”
Credibility from an independent source, which MGMA has cultivated through nearly 80 years of organizational performance research, should go a long way when hospitalists are negotiating with hospital administrators. The original SHM-produced survey carried major weight within HM; this new collaborative survey will build on that success by expanding the survey’s credibility in hospitals across the country. Hospital administrators have been turning to MGMA data for other management metrics for years; now they will be able to use the same trusted source for decisions about their HM programs.
“When we negotiate with hospital administrators, we use the current data as a benchmark for comparison,” Dr. Friar says. “[Administrators] are much more familiar with MGMA. The marriage of the two should be very helpful.”
The combination also helps alleviate some confusion in the marketplace, which was the goal of both organizations, according to Crystal Taylor, MGMA’s assistant director for survey operations. “Our survey has been the gold standard for compensation but hasn’t had a high degree of detail around hospitalist-specific metrics,” Taylor says. “SHM’s research has always had more detail in this area because it was more specialized.”
Although the research will be published in mid-2010, SHM members will notice changes long before then. In fact, many hospitalists already have taken advantage of the partnership, says Leslie Flores, MHA, the director of SHM’s Practice Management Institute.
“SHM and MGMA have already done a number of collaborative things,” she says. “We’ve presented a webinar together, and SHM is now offering MGMA books on its online store.”
In the near future, SHM and MGMA members can expect to hear from both organizations. MGMA has invited SHM to present at MGMA’s national conference, and MGMA will be presenting at HM09 in Washington, D.C., in April. For other SHM members, their first contact with MGMA will be through the survey, which will begin in January, according to Flores. SHM will issue e-mail invitations to group leaders to participate in the survey. The link in the e-mail will take members to MGMA’s data-gathering Web site. SHM and MGMA will present webinars and other educational tools to help practice administrators and others understand the new survey instrument.
Like any other promising relationship, both parties are animated about the potential the partnership has for the future. MGMA hopes working with SHM brings them into a new and growing marketplace.
“The hospitalist market is new to us, which is another benefit of the relationship,” says Steve Hellebush, an MGMA vice president who is responsible for the association’s work with SHM. “By being able to interact with experts at SHM who really understand that segment of the healthcare industry, we’re learning more about it. As we learn more, we’ll find more opportunities.”
Both groups agree the joint project will better define the marketplace for hospitalist jobs and compensation. Those familiar with the challenges of administrating a hospitalist practice know that those changes will have a deep impact on healthcare.
“This is about giving our members the best, most valuable information available,” says Tex Landis, MD, FHM, chairman of SHM’s Practice Analysis Committee. “By enabling hospital medicine groups to make better decisions, this partnership will ultimately translate into better care for patients.”TH
Brandon Shank is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia.
The Arizona chapter had a well-attended meeting Aug. 13 at Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Phoenix. Hospitalists, medical students, and several chief medical officers from local hospitals listened as chapter president Tochukwu S. Nwafor, MD, of Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix, gave a lecture on VTE prophylaxis in the hospitalized patient. He discussed the pivotal role hospitalists provide in treating this medical condition and the leadership they can provide because of their accessibility and knowledge. The France Foundation sponsored the discussion.
After the lecture, VTE prevention strategies were discussed. The chapter agreed to continue such work on VTE in the future.
Chapter business was discussed after the lecture. Plans for the coming year include another weekend continuing medical education (CME) activity on pertinent hospitalist topics. The chapter also plans to continue its outreach to such outlying areas as Tucson and Flagstaff.
The Northern Nevada chapter met Aug. 18 at the Washow Grill in Reno. The 38 attendees represented four HM groups. Chapter president Phil Goodman provided an overview of SHM and its resources, meetings, fellowship, and membership costs. The chapter elected officers based on nominations submitted via e-mail and nominations at the chapter meeting. A written ballot was conducted, and the officers elected for 2009-2010 are:
- President: Sukumar Gargya, MD, Renown Hospitalists;
- VP Logistics/Secretary (president-elect): Levente Levai, MD, president, Sierra Hospitalists;
- VP Membership: Lynda Malloy, director, NNMC EmCare;
- VP Education: Nagesh Gullapalli, UNSOM Hospitalists; and
- VP Projects: Jose Aguirre, president, Lake Tahoe Regional Hospitalists.
The next meeting is Nov. 3. The agenda includes a talk on “Difficult Decisions in Afib Management.” The chapter also plans to resume a journal club that aims to publish two to three times per year, starting in late November or early December.
Primary Piedmont Triad Chapter
The Primary Piedmont Triad SHM chapter had its first meeting June 23 at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C. The meeting was hosted by the Wake Forest Inpatient Physicians group of Wake Forest University Health Sciences and sponsored by Schering-Plough. The chapter had dissolved a few years ago, so this meeting was a “meet and greet.”
Ten hospitalists attended the meeting, which included the selection of new officers. There was no special presentation. The evening was spent socializing, reviewing survey results and deciding on a new vision for the chapter. The group was extremely enthusiastic and excited about the future of HM, even in the current economic climate and uncertainty surrounding healthcare reform. The chapter is planning to have quarterly meetings.
The Southern Illinois chapter met July 23 at the Hilton Garden Inn in O’Fallon. The meeting was attended by 16 hospitalists from four HM groups. Theresa Murphy, a PharmD in neuro ICU at Barnes Jewish Hospital, presented on “Euvolemic and Hypervolemic Hyponatremia and AVP Antagonishm with Vapris.” The event was a success; attendees were pleased with the topics that were discussed.
SHM’s Chicago chapter hosted a dinner July 29 at the Reel Club in Oakbrook, Ill. The speaker was Gary Shaer, MD, professor of medicine at Rush University. The topic for Dr. Shaer’s presentation was “Managing Patients with ACS in the Acute Setting: An Interventional Cardiologist’s Perspective.” The talk generated an excellent discussion. Various HM topics were debated, including healthcare reform and the hospitalist.
The chapter also welcomed new members and newly designated Fellows in Hospital Medicine. Attendees included hospitalists from Advocate Medical Group, Loyola Medical Center, Resurrection Hospitals, Northwestern Medical Center, and Signature Group.
The next chapter meeting will be in November; the date and location are to be announced. For more information about the Chicago chapter, contact Aziz Ansari, DO, FHM, at email@example.com, or Ana Nowell, MD, FHM, at firstname.lastname@example.org.