One of the most enduring lessons I have learned during my time in hospital medicine is that hospitalists are always evolving, much like the specialty and healthcare system of which they are a part. And during my time as president of the Society of Hospital Medicine (SHM), I have come to realize how SHM provides its members with the resources to help us continue that evolution through our career journeys as a part of the hospital medicine movement.
Over a year ago, I ascended to president of SHM’s board of directors at HM16, the annual meeting in San Diego. Now, I am eagerly looking forward to HM17 next month, in Las Vegas, which we expect to be, yet again, the biggest, best, most innovative and most energetic gathering of hospitalists. As that meeting will mark the end of my tenure as president of the board, I’m also inclined to look back and survey what has happened over the last year, both personally and professionally.
The personal perspective is easy. I have a different position within my organization: president of Cleveland Clinic Akron General and the Southern Region, one which I would and could never have anticipated a year ago. It challenges, exhausts, exhilarates, and teaches me every day. I am also celebrating my 15th wedding anniversary and have three amazing children who seem to evolve in front of my eyes every day.
And, professionally, at HM16 (and on these pages a year ago), I framed what I felt were four critical directions for SHM and have a few thoughts on the work we have done over the last year.
1. Expand and engage SHM’s membership. SHM continues to be the envy of professional organizations, growing each year. More important than sole growth is our pursuit of connecting hospitalists to SHM’s resources and to each other; we have been incredibly active this past year. For instance, SHM is embarking on an engagement survey of HM groups, and is investing in new technologies to support membership. We are now a CME-accrediting organization and are moving the SHM Learning Portal to a new, enhanced platform. We launched a long-term communications strategy that is tied to engagement and a more nimble and mobile experience for our members. The SHM Leadership Academy sold out. HM17 is poised to be another success. And finally, we are increasingly appreciating that a strong SHM must have a vibrant chapter structure to ensure connections between our membership, staff, and board.
2. Focus on patient- and family-centered care. A look at the HM17 curriculum reinforces SHM’s awareness that patients and hospitalists must be more assertive in developing skills in communication and empathy. By doing so, they support a culture and environment wherein patients are active participants their care. Members of our Patient Experience Committee are presenting courses and workshops in Las Vegas, and last year’s annual meeting featured an entire pre-course on communication skills. Hospitalists play a signature role in the Cleveland Clinic’s national conference on improving the patient experience, and the committee has an advisory council of patients and advocates to guide their work.
3. Move assertively to define our role in an era of risk and reform. Last year’s national election will probably create policy upheavals that are difficult to either anticipate or plan for. However, the evolution of Medicare, Medicaid, and commercial payers toward passing risk (and reward) onto physicians, hospitals, and systems, likely is unstoppable. SHM held a board retreat with key hospital leaders (including Patrick Conway, MD, MSc, MHM, deputy administrator for Innovation and Quality at CMS and director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, and a keynote speaker at HM17) to outline a framework to engage and educate our membership by leveraging the work of our Public Policy, Education, and Practice Management committees.
4. Define our stance regarding specialty recognition: The complexities of this issue are political as well as logistical. SHM has continued to build out the infrastructure for Recognition of Focused Practice with the launch of SPARK ONE (our Focused Practice in Hospital Medicine exam preparation product), but the gaps between the curricula of internal medicine and family medicine residencies, and our daily clinical realities, will continue to exist for the foreseeable future. Pediatrics has established a board requirement for pediatric hospital medicine, but it is still unclear if this is the future of adult hospital medicine.
As I prepare to the pass to baton to Dr. Ron Greeno for 2017-18, I am reminded of one of the pearls of a former boss and mentor of mine who preached that career satisfaction comes from finding opportunities to achieve three goals: addressing meaningful challenges, working with compelling individuals, and learning something new every day. I would like to thank the board, SHM CEO Larry Wellikson, MD, MHM, and the society staff and volunteers, and, most of all, the many SHM members with whom I have met and spoken over the last year for providing me with exactly that opportunity.