Hospital budgets are tight, so your administrative time has been cut back. You’re pulling extra clinical shifts because of the busy flu season. You’re weeks away from going live on the new electronic health record system. And every spare minute is spent working on improving patient satisfaction scores or reducing readmissions. Investing a few hours in the 2014 State of Hospital Medicine survey is just not on your radar screen.
I realize it may be asking a lot, but I’d like to challenge you to step back and take a longer view. Here are five compelling reasons every hospitalist leader and administrator should participate in this year’s SHM survey and in the MGMA Physician Compensation and Production Survey.
Information You and Your Colleagues Will Use
Hospitalist groups all over the country, probably including yours, use information from SHM and MGMA surveys to benchmark compensation and productivity internally and to assess options related to scope of services, staffing and scheduling, and other structural parameters. If you don’t participate, your group’s data isn’t collected, depriving HM practices everywhere of the benefits of your group’s experience.
Be Prepared to Defend Your Group’s Performance
Other people who have influence over your practice are going to use this information to make judgments about how your group stacks up. It is in your interest to understand how the survey questions are worded and how the data is analyzed and presented. Participation offers firsthand insight into what information is actually being collected and reported, which can help you explain why your group’s results might be different. And the free copy of the survey you receive ensures you will have direct access to the information others are using to evaluate you.
Small Sample Sizes Bias the Results
It’s tempting to sit back and think there are plenty of others participating. But the more groups that participate, the more robust and representative the data will be. And with larger data sets, the data analysts have more options for “cutting” the data and reporting meaningful results for different subsets of the hospitalist universe. Your group’s data just might mean the difference between numbers and blanks in some of those tables.
A Valuable Way to “Give Back” to the Specialty
HM has been good to you. Even if you don’t have the time or opportunity to write, speak, serve on SHM committees, or otherwise move your specialty forward, one important way you can “give back” to the field is to help ensure high quality, representative survey results.
You Might Just Learn Something
Some of the information the survey asks for isn’t at your fingertips. You’re going to have to dig, and probably work with others, to obtain what you need. But in the process, you’re likely to learn something useful about your group’s performance that you didn’t know before, like your CPT code distribution or the amount of financial support you received. And, once you learn it, you’ll want to keep tracking it going forward.
Leslie Flores, MHA, SFHM, is partner in Nelson Flores Hospital Medicine Consultants and an SHM Practice Analysis Committee member.