Residency teaching needs more focus on cost-cutting

Although most medical residency programs are aware of the need for a curriculum focused on cutting patient-care costs, few programs actually offer one, according to a research letter published online Dec. 16 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Researchers led by Mitesh S. Patel, MD, MBA, of the Philadelphia VA Medical Center in Philadelphia, used data from an August 2012 survey of members of the Association of Program Directors in Internal Medicine on the status of curricula focusing on cost-conscious care in medical residency programs.

The response rate was about 80 percent, but only about 15 percent of the respondents indicated they formally offered a course of study devoted to cost-conscious care. Nearly half stated they planned to implement such a curriculum in the future.

Most of the respondents (89.4 percent) said they believed that graduate medical education (GME) shares in the responsibility of curbing healthcare costs. However, only 57.5 percent of the program respondents said most of their faculty served as cost-cutting role models and only 33.2 percent said residents were able to get information on the costs of tests and procedures.

Based on their findings, the authors argued that GME programs need to strengthen their cost-cutting curriculum.

“If GME is going to play a significant role in curtailing the rising cost of health care, it must leverage such models to develop more robust teaching and assessment methods and provide faculty development,” they wrote.