Benji K. Mathews, MD, SFHM, CLHM, chief of hospital medicine at Regions Hospital, HealthPartners, in St. Paul, Minn., and director of point of care ultrasound (POCUS) for hospital medicine at HealthPartners, is the course director for the Society of Hospital Medicine’s 2020 Annual Conference (HM20), which will be held April 16-18 in San Diego.
Dr. Mathews, also an associate professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, sat down with the Hospitalist to discuss the role of the course director in formulating the HM20 agenda, as well as highlighting some exciting educational sessions, workshops, and other events during the annual conference.
In your role as course director for HM20, did you have a particular theme you wanted to emphasize?
We did not go with a single theme, because we’re trying to provide a comprehensive educational and networking opportunity, so trying to focus the conference on a single theme a year in advance did not seem very prudent. There are multiple themes, from health disparities to technology to education. For a field like hospital medicine that’s rapidly evolving, we thought it best to keep it open and instead further develop the conference tracks: What new tracks can be created, what older tracks can be maintained because they have been highly successful, and which tracks do we retire?
Can you discuss some of the tracks at HM20?
The new track we have this year is the Technology track. That track will examine current and future technology that will impact care delivery, including telehealth, wearables, apps for digital learning, and for clinicians at the bedside. Innovation is at the core of hospital medicine, and we’re constantly exploring how to deliver efficient, timely, and effective care. “Future-casting” is important, and this track speaks to that.
There are some old standards that I would also recommend. The “Great Debate” is one of the hardest to finalize, because while you can create a great session topic and title, we need to find two talented speakers for a debate, as that is very different than a presentation. The speakers take opposing sides on clinical decisions, the latest literature reviews, best practices, and the audience gets to vote. Topics we’re using this year include “Procalcitonin: Friend or Foe,” “Guidelines Controversies in Inpatient Care,” and “POCUS vs. Physical Exam – Tech vs. Tradition.” Some of the debaters include Carrie Herzke, MD, of Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore; Daniel Dressler, MD, of Emory University, Atlanta; Jordan Messler, MD, of Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater, Fla.; and Michelle Guidry, MD, of the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System and Tulane University, both in New Orleans; Ria Dancel, MD, from the University of North Carolina, and Michael Janjigian, MD, from NYU Langone Health.
One of the highlights this year is that we’re trying to bring more gender equity into our speaker lineup. Rarely will we have only two male speakers at a session, and I don’t think we have any all-male panels, jokingly called “manels” in the past.