Back to the Future: Past RIV Winners Talk About What the Recognition Meant for Their Careers

Larry Beresford


The Hospitalist. 2013;17(9):1,35-38. 

In This Article

David O. Meltzer, MD, PhD

Title: Associate professor, department of medicine; associate faculty member, Harris School and the Department of Economics

Institution: University of Chicago

Year: 2005

Riv: "Effects of Hospitalists on Outcomes and Costs in a Multicenter Trial of Academic Hospitalists" (research)

Dr. Meltzer was the lead author, with 11 other prominent hospitalists, of an abstract based on a multisite study of the cost and outcome implications of the hospitalist model—still a relatively new concept in 2001, when the research began. Although the study did not uncover large cost savings realized from the hospitalist model of care, as some advocates had hoped, important findings and implications for the emerging field were teased out of the data.

At the time, only a few randomly controlled, multisite studies of costs and outcomes for the hospitalist model had been performed. The study, Dr. Meltzer says, required a complicated analysis to discover that hospitalists, in fact, saved their facilities money, with their most important impact realized post-hospitalization, such as on nursing-home costs. It was important to control for spillover effect and the fact that hospitalists do a better job of teaching house staff, while a physician's years of experience was another important variable, he says.

Dr. Meltzer was a medical researcher interested in medical specialization when the term "hospitalist" was first coined in 1996. "I thought, here was a chance to study a medical specialty in its formative stages," he says.

He still works as a hospitalist, although with limited clinical time. In addition to his administrative work as division chief, he directs the Center for Health and the Social Sciences at the University of Chicago. His research interests include cost-effectiveness, technology assessment, and information research.

In 2010, his poster "Effects of Hospitalists on 1-Year Post-Discharge Resource Utilization by Medicare Beneficiaries" took the top prize in the HM10 research competition. In 2011, he was appointed to the methodology committee of the federal Patient- Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), which was created by the Affordable Care Act to advise the government on clinical-effectiveness research. He also sits on the Advisory Council to the National Institute of general Medical Sciences at the Institute of Medicine, and on the Congressional Budget Office's panel of health advisors.

In a career full of recognition, Dr. Meltzer says it's hard to pinpoint the impact of winning the poster contest. But he has continued to submit abstracts to SHM every year and appreciates the opportunities for interaction with peers at the poster exhibits.