Physician Cost-Containment Training Can Reduce Medical Costs

HRD-82-36: Published: Feb 4, 1982. Publicly Released: Feb 4, 1982.

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GAO reviewed the current status of cost-containment training for physicians in medical schools, residency programs, and continuing medical education.

GAO found that the collective decisions of the nation's physicians greatly affect the national demand for and utilization of medical resources. Knowledge of cost-containment principles is an important element in efforts to control health care costs, and cost-containment training is an important first step in these efforts. Medical schools and residency training programs have led the way in developing programs to increase physician sensitivity to the cost of health care and to train their students in methods and techniques for providing cost-effective care. However, these programs vary widely in approach, content, and emphasis because health care cost containment is still a relatively new issue for which no standard teaching and training approach has been developed. The commitment of medical school faculties will determine the extent of further development of cost-containment training programs. GAO believes that one possible means to increase faculty and student sensitivity to the importance of such training could be the inclusion of cost-containment material in required medical examinations.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The increase in competition in the health sector forced physicians and other providers to change their practice patterns and become more cost-effective. Accordingly, GAO does not believe that educational efforts are still needed.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Health and Human Services should provide impetus to the continued development and expansion of physician cost-containment training by: (1) monitoring the medical profession's progress as it incorporates such training into medical curricula; and (2) providing funding on a carefully selected basis for seminars and conferences at which medical school faculty and residency program directors can develop and share strategies, approaches, and methods for teaching cost-effective medicine.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services


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