Changing payment models and a projected labor shortage are leading educational institutions and policymakers to re-think the traditional approaches to training healthcare workers. The new programs are giving future healthcare professionals more flexibility and a better understanding of patients’ lives in the real world, helping prepare them for a future of value-based reimbursement.
The Washington Post recently published an article highlighting how medical schools are reinventing the process of training new doctors. To prepare their students for a system that ties payments to outcomes, med schools are emphasizing collaboration, care management and a deeper understanding of patients’ lives:
- Penn State has its first-year med students serve as patient navigators, which requires them to make home visits. This gives students hands-on experience with the outside factors in patients’ environments that can affect their wellbeing. For example, the article tells the story of the school’s patient navigators visiting a patient with severe arthritis and finding that her broken reclining chair was increasing her risk for a fall.
- The University of Texas at Austin is designing a new medical school that will focus on issues like healthcare delivery and population health. Among its non-traditional faculty will be an executive coach, who will give lessons on collaboration and effective leadership.
The collaboration theme is something that experts say is vital to redesigning training for doctors. One healthcare economist points out that while the physician used to be the unquestioned captain of the medical team, today “they’re just a member of the team. They’re becoming a member of the team who knows a lot more about some things than everybody else but a lot less than other people on the team.”
Signs show that it’s not just training for physicians that needs to be shaken up. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the fastest-growing jobs through 2022 will include occupational therapy assistants, physical therapy assistants and physician assistants. To fill these positions, advocates are calling for more nimble updates to classroom instruction, with faster, more responsive curriculum changes. They also point out that community colleges and other institutions must emphasize evening, weekend and online classes so that students can get the training they need for these in-demand jobs while continuing to make ends meet with their day jobs.
As the transition to value-based care moves forward, changes like these ones will help ensure healthcare organizations have the skilled staff they need to keep patients healthy and revenue flowing.