Engaging Hospitalists: What Makes You Tick?

By  |  March 25, 2015 | 

by Jerome Siy, MD, SFHM, CHIE

It would be easy to deliver on the triple aim if all hospitalists had to do was run a checklist.  But, it’s pretty obvious that we need more than a checklist to be successful.  How many of us are graduated in the top 10% of our class, but can’t get a score above 70% on our HCAPS scores?  A checklist is something we should be familiar with.  It’s how we got through medical school, and how we passed our boards.  Are we passing in our hospital medicine practice?

Don’t get me wrong.  The checklist helps. A gentle reminder to foam in and foam out, a cue to sit down before I begin a conversation with a vulnerable patient, or a nudge to lend a hand at the next ED to inpatient lean project are all important ways we can improve upon our hospitalist mission.  If all we did was create a list and memorize it, though, it wouldn’t be enough.  If we performed each item on the list and marked it off, it still wouldn’t be enough.  Ask an artist this same question.  If you play the notes on a score without error, would you get a standing ovation?

Painters don’t paint by number (that’s how I paint, and I’m no painter).  To create a masterpiece, he must engage with his surroundings.  Through his engagement he can bring life to an empty canvas.  Hospitalists are artists too.  We don’t just order tests.  We engage with our patients and our care teams to create the system of care that surrounds a patient and her ailments from birth to death.

But what does it mean to engage?  Engagement is far more than just participation.  It is more than just saying yes to a checklist of tasks.  I asked several hospitalists from inside and outside my group to answer this question for me.  I promise I didn’t coach them.  Here is what they said:

Their answers ranged from great patient interactions, to great care team interactions, to great organizational interactions.  Ultimately, engagement is what makes being a hospitalist meaningful.

So, how do we accomplish that?  How do we build a culture to support that?  Could it be that if hospitalists were more engaged, our checklist performance would be more masterful, like the painter who brings life to an empty canvas or the pianist who receives a standing ovation?

For the last 18 months SHM’s Practice Management Committee has been on a journey to discover what the key ingredients of hospitalist engagement are.  Many of you probably already participate in physician or workforce engagement and/or satisfaction surveys.  At my organization, we fill out these surveys twice a year and I have always found them helpful, but lacking in specificity to the specialty of hospital medicine.  Perhaps you too feel the same.

So after much effort and testing, the Practice Management Committee of SHM developed and validated an engagement survey specifically for hospitalists, one that your group can be a part of.  To encourage its adoption, the SHM Board of Directors is subsidizing the cost of the survey and benchmarking service for the next year.  That’s right, participation is free.

Interested? You can sign up to take the survey here:

If you’re interested in talking about hosptialist engagement in person, join me at Hospital Medicine 2015 next week on Wednesday, April 1st at 9:50 AM in Potomac C.


Siy_Jerome (213x320)Jerome Siy, MD, SFHM, CHIE is the Department Head for Hospital Medicine for HealthPartners Medical Group (HPMG).  He also holds an appointment of Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

Dr. Siy was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and attended the University of Wisconsin- Madison.  He obtained his MD degree in 1997 from Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Minnesota, and completed his residency training in Internal Medicine in 2000 at the University of Minnesota.  Immediately after residency, Dr. Siy joined HPMG as a hospitalist.  In 2003 he co-directed the HPMG Fellowship in Hospital Medicine and assumed directorship in 2005.  In 2006 he became Chief of Hospital Medicine at Regions Hospital, and then Department Head in 2010, overseeing the HPMG Hospital Medicine program at 7 metro hospitals.  During his years in leadership, the Hospital Medicine program has expanded 4 fold and includes diverse practices in Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Palliative Care, Perioperative Medicine, and Mental Health Medicine.

Dr. Siy is a Senior Fellow in Hospital Medicine (SFHM) and an active member of the Society of Hospital Medicine (SHM).  He has served on multiple national committees and task forces for SHM, including practice management, education, and procedural skills.  He currently is Chair of the SHM Practice Management Committee.  Additionally, Dr. Siy is the President and cofounder of the Minnesota Chapter of SHM.

In 2011, Dr. Siy completed an 8 month sabbatical in East Asia where he studied Mandarin Chinese and visited multiple health systems.  In addition to visiting foreign health systems in Europe and Asia, Dr. Siy has hosted visiting physicians and policy makers from overseas.  He has spoken about hospital medicine in educational and clinical forums and participated in medical missions.

Dr. Siy was named to Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal’s “40 under 40” in 2007 and was awarded SHM’s Award for Clinical Excellence in 2009.  In 2010 Dr. Siy became a Certified Health Insurance Executive (CHIE) with America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP).

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