Some have criticized Academic Medical Centers (AMCs)--partnerships largely between medical schools and teaching hospitals where the focus is on research, education, and patient care--for being costly in relation to the product they deliver. A recent report tends to refute that. We certainly should be working to improve health care quality and reduce its cost, but at the same time we must ensure that these centers of excellence, critical to the next generation of physicians and medical innovations, are sustained.
Kaiser Health News recently reviewed Medicare data to examine the comparative costs of a patient episode of care--defined as covering three days prior to admission to 30 days post discharge--including comparing the national median to the average for U.S. News and World Report's "best hospitals" honor roll, which consists of AMCs. The average cost to Medicare for a patient in these AMCs turned out to be slightly less than the national median spending for all U.S. hospitals. The figures in fact were $17,808 for AMCs versus $17, 988 for the far larger national group of hospitals.
It was welcome news to learn that institutions like NewYork-Presbyterian, Barnes Jewish, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, and many others achieve cost levels below the median spent by hospitals across the country. This is particularly pertinent given that other reports have raised questions about the value and cost of these acclaimed centers.