Most physicians today participate in at least one managed care contract. The competencies required to practice in a managed care environment have been published by the Council on Graduate Medical Education (COGME),1 Meyer,2 and others. However, the results of a study we conducted suggest that there is great variability in the degrees to which managed care has been formally integrated into the medical school curriculum.
We surveyed curriculum deans at all 125 U.S. allopathic medical schools to determine whether and at what level managed care was included in each school's curriculum, what specific content areas were covered, and the dean's interest in a centralized Web-based clearing-house for managed care information. Nearly half of the 110 respondents reported having a managed care curriculum at either the medical school or the residency level; only 28% reported covering managed care at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The topics most commonly covered included health care economics (87%), health care delivery systems (81%), managed care ethics (70%), and health policy (63%). Despite marked variation in how their schools incorporated managed care topics in the curricula, 83% of respondents reported that they would find helpful an Internet clearinghouse for managed care information.
The Managed Care Education Clearinghouse (< www.gwumc.edu/mcec>) was created through a partnership between The George Washington University and Partnerships for Quality Education.3 The Managed Care Education Clearinghouse is an innovative and comprehensive resource on the World Wide Web for health professionals teaching and learning about managed care. The purpose of the site is to facilitate the teaching of managed care concepts in health professions education. Using the clearinghouse, educators can find and share educational material related to managed care, including previously difficult-to-obtain material such as unpublished curricula, teaching modules, handbooks, teaching methods, and lecture materials; the site also includes links to selected Internet resources helpful in teaching managed care concepts. Current bibliographies of articles published in the health professions literature regarding teaching managed care are also included and frequently updated. Visitors to the clearinghouse who are interested in learning about managed care will find a compendium of reference materials, self-study programs, and other resources, published and unpublished, relating to managed care competencies. The success of the clearinghouse continues to depend upon creative work of educators in this area and their willingness to share materials they develop by posting them on the site.
Our research suggests that to date U.S. allopathic medical schools have made only a limited effort to incorporate teaching of the skills, attitudes, and competencies required to practice in a managed care environment into their curricula. However, it is essential for medical education to keep pace with the changes in health care delivery prompted by managed care. The World Wide Web has the potential to facilitate a new level of collaboration in the development of educational materials and teaching methods. We hope that the Managed Care Education Clearinghouse will help to foster this collaboration and will aid in removing some of the impediments to incorporating the teaching of managed care competencies in all health professions programs.
1. Council on Graduate Medical Education Resource Paper: Preparing Learners for Practice in a Managed Care Environment. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Rockville, MD, Sept 1997.
2. Meyer GS, Potter A, Gary N. A national survey to define a new core curriculum to prepare physicians for managed care practice. Acad Med. 1997;72:669–76.
3. March EL, Moore GT. Allied for good: academic medicine and managed care form educational partnerships. New Medicine. 1997;1:179–82.