Saturday, June 2, 2007

AAHPM vs. Other Specialty Meetings: SHM and ASCO

I had the pleasure to give a talk at the Society for Hospital Medicine (SHM) Annual Meeting in Dallas Texas last Friday, and it was very interesting for me because it was the first non-hospice/palliative medicine national meeting I had visited. The SHM is celebrating ten years in business as the group representing hospitalists, a fast emerging field of physicians. Now the AAHPM has been operating since 1988, and so I thought it would be interesting to compare the two groups and see how far they have come.

Members: ?
Founded: 1997
# of practicing Hospitalists (2003): >8000
# of Hospitalists Groups (2003): >1800
Fellowships (non-ACGME): 13 Int Med, 4 Fam Med, 4 Pediatric
Annual Meeting Attendance (est by me): 1500
Estimated Intensity of Pharma Sponsorship at Annual Meeting: Moderate

Members: around 3000
Founded: 1988
# of Board Certified Palliative Medicine Doctors: >2000
# of Practicing Hospice or Palliative Medicine Doctors: maybe 4,000?
# of Hospices: >4100
# of Fellowships (soon to be ACGME Certified): 56 Adult, 3 Pediatric
Annual Meeting Attendance: around 1600 (incl HPNA)
Estimated Intensity of Pharma Sponsorship at Annual Meeting: Minimal

I think this is an interesting comparison because there are some similarities between the fields. Hospitallists and palliativists have been marketed to hospital administrators as 'quality care' and 'efficient, cost-saving' measures. But how many people (public or medical) know what a hospitalist does versus a palliativist? I would guess more people know about hospitalists than palliativists.

Another interesting comparison is the amount of pharma sponsorship at the annual meetings. The booths in the exhibit hall at SHM were full of much larger pharma displays than I recall from the SLC 2007 AAHPM, although those displays were getting larger at AAHPM too. I have not expounded on my particular views about pharma supported education here, but a good synopsis would be: "I hope the field of hospice and palliative medicine does not become anything like endocrinology, oncology, infectious disease or cardiology from what I recall about those rotations and the amount of physician marketing (too much!)" So I find it interesting that on the front page of the AAHPM website listed in the second slot is a link for commercially funded symposia.

So with that I have a few questions for Pallimed readers:

How do the rest of you HPM folks feel about pharma and our field?

Would it help us grow faster like SHM, or would we pay a price in being 'influenced' too much?

Feel free to share your opinions on that or comparing our field and our annual meetings/societies to other ones you are familiar with. W
hat could we do better as a field? What should AAHPM focus on? Or NHPCO? Or HPNA? Talk about it here and if we get some comments I will make sure the right people in those organizations see them.

I will plan on commenting next week (after my vacation!) on the great focus that the SHM annual meeting had on palliative medicine. They had a sole track of lectures dedicated to palliative care! I was impressed with that attention to our field by hospitalists!

Which brings me to my second topic...ASCO! And why don't they have a palliative care track?

The annual meeting is this weekend in Chicago. I did a quick Adobe Reader search for some Pallaitive Care terms in their 80+ page handbook (abstract titles search results in parentheses) for the meeting and this is what I came up with:
  • Cancer - 659 (100+)
  • Pediatric - 24 (11)
  • Survivor - 15 (7)
  • Hospice - 12 (1)
  • Palliative - 12 (9)
  • Pain - 4 (12)
  • Prognosis - 2 (10)
  • Fatigue - 2 (7)
  • Insomnia - 0 (0)
  • Cachexia - 0 (1)
  • Anorexia - 0 (1 - same one as above)
Any other terms to be searched?

When I reviewed ASCO's mission statement to make sure that palliative issues were part of their vision, I came across these two points that seem to highlight palliative care type issues:

  • FOSTERING communication among cancer-related medical subspecialties and the exchange of a wide range of ideas related to cancer, including its biology, prevention, diagnosis, staging, treatment, and psychosocial impact;
  • ASSISTING oncologists in addressing the challenges of the modern-day practice of oncology.
I realize this is a biggie of a meeting, but I guess I would hope for a little more focus on palliative care issues. Any readers out there ever been to ASCO? Please feel free to offer any insight? Since I have not been there I don't have a taste for the nuances that might be discussed, so I do not want to appear to naive.

If any Pallimed readers are going to ASCO and want to do a guest post about the meeting and what HPM practitioners should know about it, feel free to email Drew or I and we will possibly post it here. I know it is late notice but if you are interested let us know.

Hey Drew, maybe if we could get a press pass for Pallimed next year to go to ASCO?

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