Medical Education and Health Care Delivery: A Call to Better Align Goals and Purposes

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Abstract

The transformation of the U.S. health care system is under way, driven by the needs of an aging population, rising health care spending, and the availability of health information. However, the speed and effectiveness of the transformation of health care delivery will depend, in large part, upon engagement of the health professions community and changes in clinicians’ practice behaviors. Current efforts to influence practice behaviors emphasize changes in the health payment system with incentives to move from fee-for-service to alternative payment models.

The authors describe the potential of medical education to augment payment incentives to make changes in clinical practice and the importance of aligning the purpose and goals of medical education with those of the health care delivery system. The authors discuss how curricular and assessment changes and faculty development can align medical education with the transformative trends in the health care delivery system. They also explain how the theory of situated cognition offers a shared conceptual framework that could help address the misalignment of education and clinical care. They provide examples of how quality improvement, health care innovation, population care management, and payment alignment could create bridges for joining health care delivery and medical education to meet the health care reform goals of a high-performing health care delivery system while controlling health care spending. Finally, the authors illustrate how current payment incentives such as bundled payments, value-based purchasing, and population-based payments can work synergistically with medical education to provide high-value care.

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