Value-based health care (VBHC) is an innovative framework for redesigning care delivery to achieve better outcomes for patients and reduce cost; however, providing students with the skills to understand and engage with these topics is a challenge to medical educators.
Here, the authors present a novel, VBHC curriculum integrated into a required course for post-core clerkship students—launched in 2018 at Harvard Medical School and taught in conjunction with Harvard Business School faculty—that highlights key principles of VBHC most relevant to undergraduate medical education. The course integrates VBHC with related health disciplines, including health policy, ethics, epidemiology, and social medicine, using a case-based method. Students practice active decision making while learning key concepts to address value in clinical practice.
Since the course’s inception in March 2018, 95 students (87%) completed the standardized course evaluation; the majority said VBHC content and pedagogical style (i.e., case-based learning) enhanced their learning. Students’ critiques focused on too little integration with other disciplines (e.g., social medicine, ethics), the physical space, and inadequate time for debates about potential tensions between VBHC and other course disciplines.
The authors believe that by exposing medical students to the principles of VBHC, students will fulfill the expectations of graduating physicians by excelling as critical thinkers, collaborative team members, and judicious care providers throughout their residency, clinical practice, and beyond. Future VBHC curricula expansions may include elective coursework, intensive seminar series, and formal dual degrees.