News & Commentary

Updating Medical Schools' Curricula to Include Health Policy

February 7, 2017

Health care delivery reform continues to gain momentum in the United States and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. As new care delivery and payment models are developed and implemented, what role can physicians play to shape the future of health policy research? A growing body of support believes that clinical perspectives can provide valuable insights into how policy can support the improvement of quality, cost, and experience of care across the health care ecosystem. However, integration of health policy into medical school curricula is often challenging due to lack in availability of institutional faculty, departments and centers of focus.

To better understand the current state of institutional support for health policy, several physicians, including Sachin Jain, MD, MBA, CEO of CareMore Health System, conducted a review of 150 U.S. academic entities affiliated with U.S. medical schools that focus on health policy. The results of this review are highlighted in a recent blog post on the NEJM Catalyst blog.

Among the review’s findings, the team concluded that the number of schools of medicine with a health policy department has risen by 66 percent since 2009 – potentially indicating an increased focus on health policy within medical school curricula. Additionally, the team found that each of the 2016 top 20 schools of medicine have at least one affiliated health policy entity. The majority of these entities were either departments of health policy in an affiliated school of public health, a health policy center, or both. Only two top 20 schools currently have a department of health policy within the school of medicine.

As population health improvement continues to gain momentum in the health care landscape, formally including health policy in all schools of medicine may help new physicians  Enhanced partnerships and increased collaboration among providers, payers and policymakers will continue to be an important aspect of implementing health care delivery reform. Integration across the health care ecosystem to include clinical perspective in policy development is another approach that can help achieve the quadruple aim – improved patient experience, better outcomes, lower costs, and care team wellbeing. 

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