SHM’s Research Shark Tank a resounding success


A few lucky hospitalists had the chance to compete for dedicated consultation time from experienced hospital medicine mentors during the SHM Annual Conference’s first Research Shark Tank.

During the new "Shark Tank" session, four hospitalist projects were each presented in a "pitch" to senior quality and research leaders in hospital medicine, who served as the "sharks" (From left: Dr. Hardeep Singh, Dr. Luci Leykum, and Dr. Andrew Auerbach) Lou Ferraro/Park South Photography

During the new Shark Tank session, four hospitalist projects were each presented in a pitch to senior quality and research leaders in hospital medicine, who served as the sharks (From left: Dr. Hardeep Singh, Dr. Luci Leykum, and Dr. Andrew Auerbach)

During the Monday afternoon session, four hospitalist projects were each presented in a 5-minute “pitch” to three senior quality and research leaders in hospital medicine who served as the “sharks.” These pitches were followed by 7 minutes of moderated questions and feedback from the sharks and the audience. Sharks then “bid” on the projects, offering up to 2 hours of one-on-one consultation during the conference or as needed.

The four projects included a study of the use of off-site scribes listening in to patient/hospitalist interactions to eliminate the need for the doctor to be glued to the computer screen, which was presented by Thea Dalfino, MD, chief of hospital medicine at Albany (N.Y.) Memorial Hospital; a rethinking of medical education to emphasize the role of hospitalists as mentors to individual student “apprentices,” presented by Amulya Nagarur, MD, of the department of medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, and Christiana Renner, MD, of University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas; and a redesign of patient hospital gowns to optimize, comfort, morale, and functionality, presented by Cheryl Dellasega, PhD, professor of medicine and humanities at Penn State University, Hershey.

The winning project was presented by Meera Udayakumar, MD, medical director at the University of North Carolina REX Healthcare in Raleigh. She discussed “The Equalizer,” a computerized tool to optimize patient distribution among hospitalists in order to balance workflow in a practice.

In discussing the thinking behind this unique session, Luci Leykum, MD, SFHM, chief of the division of general and hospital medicine at the University of Texas, San Antonio, who served as one of the sharks, stated that: “We’ve always tried to do things to promote the pipeline of research in hospital medicine and to raise the visibility of research activities at the annual conference. In the past, we have done one-on-one ‘speed dating’ with mentors, but the research committee thought this format would be more interactive and that audience members could benefit from hearing the discussion.”

The other participating sharks were Andrew Auerbach, MD, MPH, MHM, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and former editor of the Journal of Hospital Medicine, and Hardeep Singh, MD, MPH, chief of the health policy, quality, and informatics program at the Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness, and Safety at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston.

The selection process for those looking to pitch was rigorous. Projects submitted to the research committee had to focus on research, quality improvement, or medical education and be very specific to the practice of hospital medicine. In addition, the ideas needed to be relatively well developed, ideally with some pilot data. Applicants also needed to address a significant problem in hospital medicine, showcase an innovative approach, and make the case for how their solution would have short- and long-term effects.

Dr. Leykum said she was looking to see whether the pitched projects have clearly articulated questions that are important and interesting and whether the proposed methods would sufficiently answer those questions. She also considered what the implications were if the work was done.

Audience members had a chance to ask questions and, if they were interested, to potentially partner with presenters or adopt similar ideas at their own institutions. Attendees were exposed to innovative ways of solving problems that are common and ideas that have a big impact on the way problems are approached in hospital medicine.

“I think it was a fun, fast, interactive session, and it was interesting to see,” said Dr. Leykum. “Those of us who were the sharks know each other and each other’s work, so that was a fun dynamic.”

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