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Every year, hospitalists across the country receive SHM membership renewal notices in the mail. For the vast majority of them, the decision to renew is an easy one.

For the others, hospitalist Mike Hawkins, MD, FACP, FHM, recommends a tried-and-true approach in the field: Evaluate the risk-to-benefit ratio.

“As they say in medicine, the risk-to-benefit ratio is a no-brainer,” says Dr. Hawkins, the Southeast region medical director for Brentwood, Tenn.-based Cogent Healthcare.

SHM Member Benefits

  • Subscription to The Hospitalist
  • Subscription to the Journal of Hospital Medicine, the only peer-reviewed journal in hospital medicine
  • Access to members of Congress through SHM’s Legislative Action Center
  • Full access to SHM’s online educational Resource Rooms
  • Member discounts for SHM’s meetings, including the annual conference, and educational materials
  • Members-only access to the SHM Career Center
  • Enhanced professional satisfaction through networking with hospitalists on local and national levels

Dr. Hawkins should know about membership benefits; he’s been an SHM member since 1996. In fact, he was one of the first 200 members of SHM’s original incarnation, the National Association of Inpatient Physicians. He joined for the resources that helped his new hospitalist program grow and for the access to people who were doing the same thing he was in his hospital. He also recognized the potential for networking and the sharing of ideas from such industry leaders as Bob Wachter, MD, MHM, and John Nelson, MD, MHM.

Since then, the membership benefits that Dr. Hawkins and more than 10,000 other hospitalists receive have evolved along with their careers and the specialty as a whole.

SHM membership and the HM specialty have become nearly synonymous to most hospitalists. “I can’t imagine a true hospitalist that wouldn’t be an SHM member,” Dr. Hawkins says. “Most of the hospitalists on my teams are members. As a company, we strongly encourage our physicians to be SHM members.”

Membership: The Basics

Hawkins’ enthusiasm for becoming an SHM member is no surprise to Todd Von Deak, MBA, CAE, vice president of operations and general manager for SHM.

“Thousands of hospitalists join SHM for the many tangible benefits like discounts or subscriptions to the Journal of Hospital Medicine and The Hospitalist,” Von Deak says.

As SHM has evolved, so have the benefits it offers to members. The original society publication sent to members was only four pages; today, members receive both The Hospitalist and the Journal of Hospital Medicine, one of the top peer-reviewed journals in healthcare—and the only peer-reviewed journal for HM.

A Hospitalist Voice on Capitol Hill

Access to other hospitalists and leaders in healthcare is just the beginning for SHM members. SHM membership also gives members a chance to bring their professional perspectives straight to Capitol Hill.

With the critical role that hospitals play in healthcare reform, members of Congress and others in Washington are eager to hear from experts like hospitalists. In May, members of SHM’s Public Policy Committee took their message directly to members of Congress. Hospitalists engaged in a series of one-on-one meetings with legislators, relating their personal experiences in patient care and QI to the continued public dialogue over healthcare reform.

In early June, SHM past president Scott Flanders, MD, SFHM, along with representatives of Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan and the American Hospital Association, conducted a briefing with about 50 legislative aides. The briefing was intended to educate members of Congress and their staffs about Project BOOST and the need to reduce unplanned readmissions.

“Hospitalists bring a very important perspective to the policy conversation about improving healthcare in America,” says Eric Siegal, MD, SFHM, an SHM board member and former chair of the Public Policy Committee. “SHM helps to facilitate that conversation.”

Even if they can’t make it to Washington, SHM members can stay on top of the issues affecting them and make their opinions known, Dr. Siegal says. Members can use SHM’s Legislative Action Center in the advocacy section of www.hospitalmedicine.org to learn more about current legislation and activities by the members of Congress in their area. The Legislative Action Center also makes contacting members of Congress easy by supplying contact information and tips for effective outreach.

“This is an important time to be a hospitalist,” Siegal says. “As a unified society, we can influence decisions that will shape healthcare for decades to come.”

The evolution of services to members has helped members establish credibility with their peers. Last year, SHM introduced the Fellow in Hospital Medicine designation to its members. This year, it expanded the fellowship program to include the new Senior Fellow in Hospital Medicine and the Master in Hospital Medicine programs.

“Many of our members are younger than the average physician, and in an emerging specialty,” Von Deak says. “That’s why so many of SHM’s benefits help members to establish themselves within healthcare. Our fellowship program has only been around for two years and we’ve already inducted nearly 1,000 members.”

The products and events—all offered to members at reduced rates—have all grown with SHM and its members. This year’s annual meeting attracted more than 2,500 of the most dedicated hospitalists from around the world.

Eugene Chu, MD, FHM, hospitalist and director of hospital medicine at the Denver Health Medical Center, remembers when he first joined SHM eight years ago. At the time, he says the member discount for the annual meeting was one of the deciding factors. “Financially, it made a lot of sense. The meeting discount and the member fee were close,” he says. “I’m glad it did, as SHM has offered a lot of additional benefits since then.”

Join the Movement

Over time, Dr. Chu found that the discounts for events and products were just the beginning. He now sees value in the energy that SHM brings to its members.

“Being a member brings you into the community of hospitalists,” he says. “It’s hard to quantify, but every time I come back from the spring meeting, I come back really charged up and enthusiastic about where hospital medicine is going.”

Dr. Chu isn’t alone. Many hospitalists become SHM members for financial reasons but end up renewing for the intangibles, Von Deak says.

“As members, they discover a lot more: the ability to network with peers in a growing specialty, a unified voice on critical issues, and, above all, the feeling that they are part of a real movement made up of dedicated professionals just like them,” Von Deak says.

The movement is equal parts human capital and mission. In recent years, SHM members and leadership have created new quality-improvement (QI) programs that have benefited hospitals and patients alike. The Project BOOST (Better Outcomes for Older Adults through Safer Transitions) initiative, for example, is helping more than 60 hospitals improve their discharge processes. Programs like Project BOOST, which was created in 2008, have raised the profiles of both SHM and its members within hospitals and all of healthcare.

SHM members also have ample opportunities for leadership development; like the movement, those opportunities go beyond HM. SHM’s online resource centers and mentored QI programs bring the very best of the specialty to aspiring hospitalist leaders in hospitals across the country.

For Aziz Ansari, DO, an assistant professor in hospital medicine and associate director for Loyola University Medical Center’s hospital medicine practice in Chicago, joining SHM was part of the natural progression in his career. He became an SHM member near the end of his first year as a hospitalist. Since then, Ansari’s appreciation of SHM membership has changed.

“As I progressed into leadership positions in hospital medicine, I found that the society brings credibility to the specialty,” Dr. Ansari explains. “To be established, the society needs members.”

Dr. Ansari can’t imagine not being an active member. “In fact, I haven’t met a nonmember who is as invested in their career and the specialty as SHM’s members are,” he says. TH

Brendon Shank is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia.

Better Methods for Evaluating Therapeutic Drug Use Are Available, But Not Used

Pharmacoeconomic methods rank low as a decision influencer on formulary changes, according to a new survey released in June by SHM and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP).

Respondents reported that only 13% of formulary system decisions made by pharmacy and therapeutics (P&T) committees in hospitals are influenced by pharmacoeconomic methods. The findings in the report are based on a survey of 319 ASHP members who were either pharmacy directors or members of ASHP’s Pharmacy Practice Managers Section.

Pharmacoeconomic methods evaluate the value of effects compared to the cost of pharmaceutical products when making decisions on changes to the formulary syst>em. Hospital formularies identify medications and medication-use policies used within a particular hospital. Decisions on the management of a formulary system have a significant impact on the quality and safety of patient care.

“Pharmacoeconomics is all about balancing the costs of medications with the outcomes they provide,” says Larry Wellikson, MD, SFHM, CEO of SHM. “This survey pointed out that many P&T committees underutilize this approach.

“Just like the collaboration between SHM and ASHP in conducting and analyzing this survey, we expect hospitalists and pharmacists to work together to provide the safest, most effective medications for our hospitalized patients.”

Sanofi Aventis sponsored the SHM-ASHP Pharmacoeconomics survey. For complete results, visit www.hospitalmedicine.org/pharmacoeconomicsurvey.—BS

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