Speakers Address Healthcare Reform, Political Climate at Society of Hospital Medicine's Annual Meeting


HM12 formally kicked off for thousands of hospitalists on Monday morning with two plenary addresses that couldn't have been more different.

First up, Patrick Conway, MD, MSc, FAAP, SFHM, a pediatric hospitalist and chief medical officer of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), provided a rapid-fire insight into the breadth of CMS and asked hospitalists to consider the government behemoth as a partner in systems change. Political analyst Norman Ornstein, PhD, MA, then presented a global view of the dysfunction racking the political system (once he finished an opening monologue of political jibes that would have made late-night writers proud).

But while the plenary perspectives differed in theme, they converged on implication: The next few years will be a period of change for healthcare and HM.

"The fact is if we had a political system operating on all cylinders at this point, if we had a law put into place and then assurances that it would continue, and that everybody would be making a good faith effort to make it work, it would still hold years of tumult ahead as we try to figure out how we can change cultures, change behaviors, and still along the way provide quality care at a price that is going to be acceptable enough in the system to make it work,” Ornstein said.

Dr. Conway summed it up this way: “better health, better care, and lower cost.”

Dr. Conway, who maintains a presence in the clinical world by working unpaid weekend shifts at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., says that while individual hospitalists might feel their contribution is too small to translate to systems change, they are wrong. Change, he says, begins at the local level.

"My challenge to you is: Please don't sit on the sidelines," Dr. Conway said. "Please be actively engaged in your local system in creating this change."

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