Academic health centers will play an important role in applying expanding medical knowledge and technology advances to the nation's patient-care and payment systems, but substantial changes are needed in teaching environments if they are to carry out those responsibilities, according to a new report by the Institute of Medicine.
The 160-page report, 18 months in the making, called on the nation's medical teaching institutions to transform the content, methods, approaches and settings used in health professions education.
One of the recommendations is for teaching environments to reflect the changing needs of patients and medical practices.
That includes providing the means for doctors to effectively treat chronic conditions, "which are the leading causes of illness, disability and death, and account for the majority of health resources used today," according to the IOM report.
Harnessing the industry's proliferation of technology and knowledge can provide the healthcare system with what it needs to achieve higher levels of quality and safety, but medical schools first must prepare healthcare professionals for that opportunity by making their teaching environments "exemplars for the future of healthcare delivery"-modeling team-based care and using information technology, for example.
Congress should support innovation in clinical education by "redirecting" the portion of funding for indirect medical education that exceeds the additional costs of caring for Medicare patients that are attributable to teaching activities, the report recommended.
Availability of those funds should be contingent on implementing educational innovations such as the use of clinical information systems, testing of new educational approaches in hospital and nonhospital settings, and evaluation of curricular and other needed reforms in clinical education.
The report's authors said priority for funding should be given to organizations that train multiple health disciplines-medicine, nursing, pharmacy, public health and therapy-to work together to coordinate and improve care, and to those that use information technology in their clinical programs.