There is only one annual meeting dedicated to hospitalists, designed by hospitalists, and focusing purely on issues important to hospitalists. But even that isn’t enough to make sure more hospitalists show up every year.
That’s because a yearly conference can’t just be a rehash of the last one.
A valuable conference, certainly one worth spending the bulk of a continuing medical budget on, offers something new every year. Or, to look at the schedule for HM17, a lot of new every year.
“One of our top priorities on the planning committee is to create a diversity of topics,” said Kathleen Finn, MD, FHM, assistant course director for HM17 and a hospitalist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. “We keep detailed records of talks given at prior meetings and make sure that we are rotating topics and refreshing ideas for that exact reason. Because hospitalists are generalists, the content area hospitalists need exposure to is broad. If we limited ourselves to the same topics at every meeting, the planning committee would not be serving the needs of practicing hospitalists.”
That’s an unlikely complaint this year. The annual meeting schedule for May 1-4 at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino includes five new educational tracks: High Value Care, Clinical Updates, Health Policy, Diagnostic Reasoning, and Medical Education.
“We’re really excited to be able to offer more clinical content,” said HM17 course director Lenny Feldman, MD, FAAP, FACP, SFHM.
Dr. Feldman sees each of the new tracks as filling separate and specific needs of HM attendees who vary from nonphysician providers to hospitalists to medical students.
Take, for instance, the High Value Care, Clinical Updates, and Diagnostic Reasoning sessions that are debuting.
“We wanted to make sure that we had as many clinically oriented sessions as possible,” Dr. Feldman said. “Which meant we needed to increase the amount of clinical content we have offered compared to the past few years. The new clinical track allows us to add probably 12 or so different sessions that will fill the needs of our attendees.”
The Diagnostic Reasoning and High Value Care tracks, in particular, highlight the annual meeting’s continued evolution toward a focus on evidence-based care, as that mantra becomes a bedrock of clinical treatment.
“Training our hospitalists to use the best dialogistic reasoning in their approach to their patients is a big push in hospital medicine right now,” Dr. Feldman said, “Hopefully, a track on that topic will excite people who love thinking about medicine, who got into medicine because of the mystery and want a renewed focus on how to be a great diagnostician.”
Dr. Feldman also noted that the High Value Care track should be a hot topic, as hospitalists want to learn how to provide high quality and high value care to patients at the same time. The new tracks should appeal to different groups and make the annual meeting more appealing to a variety of attendees, not just rank-and-file doctors.
The mini Medical Education track, for instance, is a subset of a half-dozen sessions tailored directly to medical educators in academic settings who face different challenges than their counterparts in community settings. The same goes for the Health Policy track, which will offer a handful of sessions suitable for novices looking to learn more in an age of reform, or policy wonks hoping to expand their knowledge.
Meeting evolving needs
New offerings aren’t limited to the main conference schedule. The 2017 roster of pre-courses includes one titled, “Bugs, Drugs and You: Infectious Diseases ‘Boot Camp’ for Hospitalists.” This daylong session hasn’t been held since 2013, and copresenter Jennifer Hanrahan, DO, associate professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, says the timing is good.
“I don’t know that the percentage of people hospitalized for infection has increased,” she said. “Because we are doing things more quickly than we did in the past, length of stays are shorter and there is a lot of pressure to get patients out of the hospital. There is a lot of consultation with Infectious Disease.”
Dr. Hanrahan, who also serves as medical director of infection prevention at Cleveland’s MetroHealth Medical Center, says that with so many patients hospitalized for infections, the value of updating one’s knowledge every few years is critical.
“I’ve been an infectious disease physician for 18 years and I’m also a hospitalist,” she said. “The types of questions I get vary a great deal depending on the experience of the hospitalist. My hope would be that we would be able to provide a basic level of understanding so that people would be more confident in approaching these problems.”
Another new feature this year is offer some of the most popular sessions at multiple times. In years past, popular sessions – such as “Update and Pearls in Infectious Diseases” and “Non–Evidence-Based Medicine: Things We Do for No Reason” – are standing room only events with attendees sitting on floors or gathered to eavesdrop from doorways.
“That says something about the content that’s being delivered, but that’s not very comfortable for folks who want to sit through a session,” Dr. Feldman said. “We’ve decided to add repeat sessions of popular presentations. We want everyone to be comfortable while they’re learning the important clinical content that’s being delivered at these sessions.”
The 2017 focus on healthcare policy is also new. Educational sessions on the policy landscape will be formally buttressed by plenary presentations from Patrick Conway, MD, MSc, MHM, deputy administrator for Innovation and Quality at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, and Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSc, a former acting assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and national coordinator for health information technology.
“There’s a thirst for (policy news) among members of the Society of Hospital Medicine,” Dr. Feldman said. “It is easy to get lost in the day-to-day work that we do, but I think most of us really enjoy hearing about the bigger picture, especially when the bigger picture is in flux.”
“Right now, this is critical,” added Dr. Finn. “Health insurance coverage has a huge impact on hospitals. I think all practicing hospitalists will need to engage with the hospital C-suite if insurance and coverage changes. Since we are hospital based, we are directly tied to anything that the federal government does in terms of health care changes. It’s important for hospitalists to be knowledgeable about health policy.”
One major highlight of the meeting calendar – less new and more historically under-appreciated, in Dr. Feldman’s view – should be the 18 workshop presentations, which are essentially 90-minute dissertations, whittled down from roughly 150 submissions.
“These are the best submissions that we received,” Dr. Feldman said. “We worked hard to make sure that the workshops encompass the breadth and depth of hospital medicine. It is not just one area that’s covered in every workshop. We’ll have workshops ranging from clinical reasoning and communication with patients, to quality improvement issues and high value care discussions, as well as a case-based approach to inpatient dermatology.”
While annual meetings’ new offerings are always an important draw, Dr. Feldman says that the annual “standbys,” such as practice management and pediatrics, are necessary to keep attendees up to date on best practices in changing times.
“It’s pretty self-evident that if we’re going to be an important specialty, we need to serve those who are caring for patients day in and day out, as well as folks who are researching how we can do it better,” he said. “Then we must make sure that data is disseminated to all of us who are taking care of patients. That’s one of the really important parts of this meeting: dissemination of the important work.”