Few residency programs train new physicians to be cost-conscious

Despite increasing healthcare costs, less than 15 percent of internal medicine residency programs feature curricula aimed at teaching residents to be more cost-conscious, according to a new research letter published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The research analyzed survey responses from almost 300 American residency programs in 2012, according to lead author Mitesh S. Patel, M.D., a physician at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center and Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and his team.

"Teaching new physicians to practice high-value, cost-conscious care has been recognized as a national priority," Patel said. "In this study, we evaluated whether formal curricula were in fact being adopted by internal medicine residency programs. While we found that this was not the case in the overwhelming majority of internal medicine residency programs, there is hope in that about 50 percent of programs stated they were working on it."

While 85 percent of the programs surveyed said graduate medical education has an obligation to address healthcare costs, only 47.5 percent believed most of their faculty were consistent role models with regard to cost-conscious care. Furthermore, only about one-third of the respondents said data on test and procedure costs were readily accessible to residents, according to the letter.

"If graduate medical education 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," Patel and his team wrote.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System's internal medicine residency program is one of the first programs in the country to implement formal training on curtailing costs based on the American College of Physicians' High-Value Care Curriculum, according to Claims Journal.

Healthcare spending in the United States continue to rise, reaching $2.7 trillion in 2010, and is estimated to account for nearly 20 percent of the gross domestic product by the end of the decade.

To learn more:
- here's the letter
- read the Claims Journal article