On behalf of SHM’s Practice Analysis Committee, I am excited to announce the scheduled September 2020 release of the 2020 State of Hospital Medicine Report (SoHM)!
For reasons all too familiar, this year’s SoHM survey process was unlike any in SHM’s history. We were still collecting survey responses from a few stragglers in early March when the entire world shut down almost overnight to flatten the curve of a deadly pandemic. Hospital medicine group (HMG) leaders were suddenly either up to their eyeballs trying to figure out how to safely care for huge influxes of COVID-19 patients that overwhelmed established systems of care or were trying to figure out how to staff in a low-volume environment with few COVID patients, a relative trickle of ED admissions, and virtually no surgical care. And everywhere, hospitals and their HMGs were quickly stressed in ways that would have been unimaginable just a couple of months earlier – financially, operationally, epidemiologically, and culturally.
SHM offices closed, with all staff working from home. And the talented people who would normally have been working diligently on the survey data were suddenly redirected to focus on COVID-related issues, including tracking government announcements that were changing daily and providing needed resources to SHM members. By the time they could raise their heads and begin thinking about survey data, we were months behind schedule.
I need to give a huge shout-out to our survey manager extraordinaire Josh Lapps, SHM’s Director of Policy and Practice Management, and his survey support team including Luke Heisinger and Kim Schonberger. Once they were able to turn their focus back to the SoHM, they worked like demons to catch up. And in addition to the work of preparing the SoHM for publication, they helped issue and analyze a follow-up survey to investigate how HMGs adjusted their staffing and operations in response to COVID! As I write this, we appear to be back on schedule for a September SoHM release date, with the COVID supplemental survey report to follow soon after. Thanks also to PAC committee members who, despite their own stresses, rose to the challenge of participating in calls and planning the supplemental survey.
Despite the pandemic, HMGs found survey participation valuable. When all was said and done, we had a respectable number of respondent groups: 502 this year vs. 569 in 2018. Although the number of respondent groups is down, the average group size has increased, so that an all-time high of 10,122 employed/contracted full-time equivalent (FTE) hospitalists (plus 484 locum tenens FTEs) are represented in the data set. The respondents continue to be very diverse, representing all practice models and every state – and even a couple of other countries. One notable change is a significant increase in pediatric HM group participation, thanks to a recruitment charge led by PAC member Sandra Gage, associate division chief of hospital medicine at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and supported by the inclusion of several new pediatric HM-specific questions to better capture unique attributes of these hospital medicine practices.
We had more multisite respondents than ever, and the multisite respondents overwhelmingly used the new “retake” feature in the online version of the survey. I’m happy to report that we received consistent positive feedback about our new electronic survey platform, and thanks to its capabilities data analysis has been significantly automated, enhancing both efficiency and data reliability.
The survey content is more wide ranging than ever. In addition to the usual topics such as scope of services, staffing and scheduling, compensation models, evaluation and management code distribution, and HM group finances, the 2020 report will include the afore-referenced information about HM groups serving children, expanded information on nurse practitioner (NPs)/physician assistant (PA) roles, and data on diversity in HM physician leadership. The follow-up COVID survey will be published separately as a supplement, available only to purchasers of the SoHM report.
Multiple options for SoHM report purchase. All survey participants will receive access to the online version of the survey. Others may purchase the hard copy report, online access, or both. The report has a colorful, easy-to-read layout, and many of the tables have been streamlined to make them easier to read. I encourage you to sign up to preorder your copy of the SoHM Report today at www.hospitalmedicine.org/sohm; you’ll almost certainly discover a treasure trove of worthwhile information.
Use the report to assess how your practice compares to other practices, but always keep in mind that surveys don’t tell you what should be; they only tell you what currently is the case – or at least, what was during the survey period. New best practices not yet reflected in survey data are emerging all the time, and that is probably more true today in the new world affected by this pandemic than ever before. And while the ways others do things won’t always be right for your group’s unique situation and needs, it always helps to know how you compare with others. Whether you are partners or employees, you and your colleagues “own” the success of your hospital medicine practice and, armed with the best available data, are the best judges of what is right for you.
Ms. Flores is a partner at Nelson Flores Hospital Medicine Consultants in La Quinta, Calif. She serves on SHM’s Practice Analysis and Annual Conference Committees and helps to coordinate SHM’s biannual State of Hospital Medicine survey.