Academic health centers must make sweeping changes in clinical practice, research and education to be competitive, according to a report released Tuesday by a task force at The Commonwealth Fund in Washington, D.C.
Among more than two dozen recommendations, the task force called on teaching hospitals and their affiliated medical schools to rationalize their financial management, take advantage of new technologies in education, and demonstrate greater accountability.
The report, Envisioning the Future of Academic Health Centers, also warns that future funding of AHCs is at risk. It says some AHCs are finding it more difficult to survive in the current healthcare environment, which is increasingly complex and constrained by rising costs.
In addition to spiraling healthcare costs and rising numbers of uninsured, the report says Medicare reforms under consideration by the Bush administration could seriously affect future funding for AHCs, which rely heavily on Medicare for financial support.
"The missions of academic health centers are essential to maximizing public health in the United States," says David Blumenthal, M.D., executive director of the task force and director of the Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital/Partners HealthCare, in a release. "But AHCs must be able to meet the evolving needs of the American people. They will have to learn quickly, act expeditiously, and face change head-on."