Monday, April 19, 2010

What can Medical Educators do to Reduce Health Care Costs?

Molly Cooke in a recent article in the NEJM (Cooke, Molly Cost Consciousness in Patient Care -- What Is Medical Education's Responsibility? N Engl J Med 2010 0: NEJMp0911502) suggests that medical educators may have failed in their task of teaching medical students and house staff appropriate use of various diagnostic tests and therapeutic procedures.

While she acknowledges that there are various factors why physicians may order more tests or procedures, she states that medical educators need to do more to help change practice behavior of these future physicians.

Schools and residency programs already educate trainees on the concepts of Number Needed to Treat, Absolute and Relative Risk Reductions, Sensitivity, Specificity of Tests, Positive and Negative Predictive Values, Likelihood Ratios etc.

The New York Times in a recent article discusses whether the new health care reform act will lead to decrease in health care spending.

Do you think more training regarding cost conscious use of tests and procedures in medical school will lead to change in practice behavior of future physicians?  Will other drivers like financial incentives overcome any effect of training?  What do you think we can do as medical educators that will truly impact the cost of health care?

Neil Mehta