Yes, another SHM milestone:
SHM’s growth includes not just the size of our organization, but also our influence within the house of medicine. I am in San Diego representing the society as a delegate in the AMA’s HOD (House of Delegates). This is the interim or fall meeting, the lesser of the two held yearly.
I have attended these biannual meetings for the past four years as an SHM representative—fact gathering and learning the ins and outs of the AMA. For the first time however, we sit at the table officially as a member. That means we vote, and allows us to have a say in AMA business.
Given the impression many docs have of the AMA and its “waning” influence (only 20% of physicians are members), it is also important to remember the AMA brings to Washington and the public “the” face of medicine. Ask any citizen who advocates on their behalf at a national level in matters relating to health, and the response is physicians. Ask the same question of patients, but now query them on the professional body that represents doctors, and the response is the American Medical Association.
Unfortunate as it might be, it is not SHM, nor the ACP, AAP, AAFP, or any subspecialty society.
When the White House or industry needs to speak to doctors, the AMA is still the place where folks turn. Additionally, the issues that specialty societies unilaterally agree upon with only a trifle of variance, say the SGR fix, liability reform, or regulatory matters (HIPPA, HITECH—“meaningful use”), well, they are routinely left for the AMA to advance. Sometimes, as a group, docs are dismissive of the work they do, and this scene often reminds me of their falsely perceived role. Perhaps a little exaggerated, yes, but we always assume on these bigger subjects, the AMA will advocate on medicine’s behalf in lieu of others. That is something to remember.
Additionally, it is still a vast organization, and within its tendrils are representatives from every society, state, and specialty of heft. There is much room here to open dialog and find common ground on.
Does SHM agree with all of the AMA’s positions, and does our presence here necessarily imply concurrence with their agenda. Of course not. But it is a potentially productive venue for SHM, and one I hope will bear fruit as health reform progresses—whatever shape that may be in. Going forward, SHM will begin to formulate how we will work within the AMA, and that means engaging hospitalists to participate. More on that matter in the future.
I intended to list some of the goings on here and discuss some of the more heated issues. However, you can probably fill in the blanks on that front. We have just experienced a midterm election and with looming SGR cuts on the horizon, a reading of your local paper should stand in as a proxy. Suffice it to say, there is a lot of passion and fervor within the confines of the meeting hall.
I also wish to add that the presidential address by Dr. Cecil Wilson was one of the best I have seen since my first meeting several years ago. It was poignant and genuine. I have linked to the speech, and it is really worth a view.
Please feel free to get in touch with SHM staffers or me if you wish to help on this effort. Again, stay tuned for our future participation in the AMA domain.
Bradley Flansbaum, DO, MPH, MHM works for Geisinger Health System in Danville, PA in both the divisions of hospital medicine and population health. He began working as a hospitalist in 1996, at the inception of the hospital medicine movement. He is a founding member of the Society of Hospital Medicine and served as a board member and officer. He speaks nationally in promoting hospital medicine and has presented at many statewide meetings and conferences. He is also actively involved in house staff education.
Currently, he serves on the SHM Public Policy Committee and has an interest in payment policy, healthcare market competition, health disparities, cost-effectiveness analysis, and pain and palliative care. He is SHM’s delegate for the AMA House of Delegates.
Dr. Flansbaum received his undergraduate degree from Union College in Schenectady, NY and attended medical school at the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine. He completed his residency and chief residency in Internal Medicine at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York. He received his M.P.H. in Health Policy and Management at Columbia University.
He is a political junky, and loves to cook, stay fit, read non-fiction, listen to many genres of music, and is a resident of Danville, PA.