Eric Siegal, MD, SFHM, is not an SHM newbie. Since becoming a member in 1999, he has served on the awards and annual meeting committees, and he is the current chair of the Public Policy Committee. So when he learned he was elected to a three-year term as SHM’s newest board member, he says, he was excited about the opportunity to continue to work with “old friends.”
Dr. Siegal is a Critical Care Fellow at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, and previously served as regional medical director for Brentwood, Tenn.-based Cogent Healthcare. TH eWire caught up with him just as he finished attending his first board meeting at HM10.
What unique perspective do you bring to the board?
I think I have a pretty varied experience. I ran both community and academic hospitalist programs. And I obviously have the policy bent, which, with all that is going with healthcare policy reform, I think it will be important to have someone on the board who has a fair degree of fluency with that. Although I will also say that two other board members come from the policy committee, so I’m by no means alone.
What kind of issues do you look forward to getting involved in?
The two areas that interest me most are healthcare policy and how hospitalists are going to interface with the critical-care environment. We know there is a large percentage, if not a majority, of hospitalists practicing critical-care medicine, some of whom may be appropriately trained to do so and others who are not. I think there are opportunities to figure out how hospitalists can and should participate in the critical care of patients. Hopefully, we can pair up with critical-care societies to figure out how we’re going to address the massive and growing shortage of critical-care physicians in the U.S.
Where do you see SHM in 10 years?
I would like to see us recognized as part of the solution to making healthcare better. We have worked very hard up to now to demonstrate to legislators, insurers, and people in the quality world that SHM [that] although we do advocate for members, we also advocate for healthcare reform. I think, unfortunately, that many professional societies start and end primarily with what is in the best financial interest of their membership. We have gone to great lengths not to be that: to be seen as an organization that is part of the solution to healthcare, not part of the problem. … I would hope that in 10 years that would not only be widely accepted throughout the healthcare community, but that when Congress or [the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services] looks around and thinks about who are the people who they can work with to make things better, hospital medicine is at the top of the list.