A new study underwritten by the Commonwealth Fund and Pew Charitable Trusts says teaching hospitals and medical schools in highly competitive managed-care markets have less money to support faculty research than their counterparts in less saturated markets.
The report, written by Harvard University and Boston-based Massachusetts General Hospital, addressed research funding at the nation's 125 teaching hospitals during 1996 and was published in the March 24 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association. It concluded that market pressures may be affecting institutional funding for research.
For example, internal funding for unsponsored research, which is usually generated by clinical enterprises, was more than twice as high for academic medical centers in less competitive managed-care markets such as Atlanta and Chicago than in more competitive markets such as Minneapolis and San Diego.
The study found that research grants from the National Institutes of Health do not provide enough support and projected that NIH increases may not offset decreases in internal research support.
Teaching hospitals typically generate funds to underwrite research, which, in turn, leverage NIH funds and other research money. But in areas with heavy managed-care competition, the report said, "those resources are dwindling and may hamper the ability of academic health centers to take advantage of any NIH increases."
"If their research funds dry up, we all lose," wrote study author Joel Weissman, assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and a senior scientist at the Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General.