Study shows few med school programs preach cost-conscious care

401(K) 2013 via/Flickr
December 31, 2013

Health care costs continue to rise around the globe. In the US alone, spending has reached nearly 3-trillion-dollars each year. But, a new study shows very few general medicine programs around the country are teaching new physicians to practice cost-conscious care.

A survey of nearly 300 residency programs around the U.S shows the vast majority of respondents believe it’s their responsibility to help decrease rising costs of medical care.

But, lead author of the study Mitesh Patel says only 15 percent of those programs formally teach new doctors how to cut costs while still providing high quality care.

He says doctors can take simple steps that can make a big difference, but that’s not currently part of the culture in most hospitals.

“We know that brand name medications are typically three to four times more expensive than generic medications, but they’re essentially equivalent in their quality and their outcome. And there’s a fair amount of money being wasted by spending or recommending brand name medications when a generic medication exists. So that’s an example of something simple that we could do.”

Patel says greater transparency around the cost of treatments for both doctors and patients could also make a difference.

He says less than a third of physicians have access to information on costs in the clinical setting.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Internal Medicine.