That’s what keeps bringing Troy Ahlstrom, MD, FHM, back. Dr. Ahlstrom, of Hos-pitalists of Northwest Michigan in Traverse City, has been to three annual meetings, and he said he tries to hit a pre-course every time. Last year, it was a session on how to more completely capture costs from billing and coding.
This year: “Comprehensive Critical Care in 2010: An Interactive Course.” The former appealed to him given that every HM group needs to capture as many of its charges as possible, and the latter because his group helps staff the critical-care units of three hospitals.
Several physicians noted that the critical-care pre-course was particularly appealing to attendees, as more hospitalists are handling those duties at their respective institutions. The format was popular, too, and was structured in the same way as the ABIM learning session, with course director David Schul-man, MD, MPH, chief of pulmonary and critical-care medicine at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, leading a room full of hospitalists through a multiple-choice exam.
Dr. Ahlstrom and others noted that aside from the engagement in education that the daylong pre-courses offer, the sessions are set up with take-home guides, reference materials, and earnest pledges for mentoring from speakers and SHM staff.
“Most medical meetings have a scientific focus with a couple of practical aspects,” Dr. Ahlstrom said. “SHM’s meeting is very practical. It presents research, but it’s research you will use in your practice.”
Gerald Johnson, MD, a hospitalist at Texoma Medical Center in Denison, Texas, signed up for the “Best Practices in Managing a Hospital Medicine Program” pre-course during his first visit to an SHM meeting. A hospitalist for about four years, Dr. Johnson decided to take the pre-course at the urging of senior colleagues. He said the most helpful lessons he gleaned were about compensation plans, scheduling, and staffing.
“It’s not one person getting up there and presenting ‘This is how it needs to be done,’ ” Dr. Johnson said. “They present you with several ways. It really gives you something to adapt to your personal environment.”
Dr. Johnson, who gushed about “the gurus” of HM leading his session, also likes the fact that people with both a financial pedigree and a background in clinical work present the information. In fact, several attendees of the best-practices session noted that the attention to both medicine and management helps fill in the gaps between being a clinician and being a businessman.
“You’ve got to do both well,” Dr. Ahlstrom said. “You’ve got to take good care of patients. But in order to take good care of patients, you have to run a good business model, too.” HM10
Richard Quinn is a freelance writer based in New Jersey.