As more and more hospitals become part of larger conglomerates – owned by an ever-shrinking number of companies – medical experts look to academic hospitals for things like better patient care, improved outcomes, trauma care, and pediatric intensive care. Part of the reason for this is the holistic approach of the academic hospital. Academic medical centers typically don’t stand alone; they work together with researchers, educators, and the community to collaborate for the best outcomes and results.
Today, our medical malpractice attorneys want to highlight an interesting article we recently ran across. “How Academic Medicine Advances Patient Care” (from the Association of American Medical Colleges, or AAMC) emphasizes the critical role played by academic medicine in advancing patient care. Academic medicine refers to the interplay between medical education, research, and patient care that takes place in academic health centers. The article highlights how academic medicine institutions have made significant contributions to medical research, clinical practice, and health policy by advancing medical knowledge and training our next generation of healthcare professionals.
It also discusses the importance of medical research in advancing patient care, noting that these types of institutions have been at the forefront of research efforts, leading to groundbreaking discoveries in fields such as genomics, immunology, and cancer. These research efforts have led to the development of new treatments, therapies, and medical devices that have improved patient outcomes and saved countless lives.
Further, it underscores the role played by academic medicine institutions in educating and training the next generation of healthcare professionals. It highlights the importance of providing medical students with hands-on clinical experience and exposing them to the latest medical technologies and techniques. It also emphasizes that medical education is a long-term investment that requires sustained funding and support to ensure that future healthcare professionals are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to provide high-quality care.
More about academic medicine institutions
The AAMC provides a host of interesting statistics about their teaching hospitals, including that they provide:
- 30% of all hospital-based charity care
- 22% of Medicare inpatient days
- 26% of Medicaid hospitalizations
- 98% of all National Cancer Institutes registered cancer treatment centers
- 65% of all level I trauma centers
- 63% all pediatric intensive care unit beds
This is even though “they represent only 5% of all short-term, general non-federal hospitals.”
Academic hospitals and COVID-19 response
Academic hospitals have played a critical role in COVID-19 response, leveraging their unique combination of expertise in research, clinical care, and medical education. Academic medical centers have been instrumental in rapidly developing and implementing COVID-19 diagnostic tests, developing new treatments, and creating effective vaccination strategies. They have also been leaders in training and educating healthcare professionals on the best practices for managing COVID-19 patients.
One of the primary contributions of academic hospitals in the COVID-19 response has been the development of diagnostic tests. Researchers and clinicians at academic medical centers were among the first to identify and sequence the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for COVID-19. Researchers at hospitals in Seattle quickly developed diagnostic tests to detect the virus and began scaling up production to meet the growing demand. Academic hospitals have also been instrumental in developing and evaluating new treatments and therapies for COVID-19, such as monoclonal antibodies and antiviral medications.
Academic hospitals and maternal health inequity
Over the past two decades, research and data have shown that America’s maternal care is in dire straits. A 2020 report by The Commonwealth Fund found that “the U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate among developed countries” and that “although most are preventable, maternal deaths have been increasing in the United States since 2000.” The research notes that there is a substantial disparity in outcomes between white mothers and non-white mothers.
Academic medical centers can also play a role in addressing these maternal health disparities in the United States. For example, Black women, indigenous women, and women of color experience higher rates of maternal mortality and morbidity compared to white women, and academic hospitals can help reduce these disparities by improving access to high-quality prenatal care and developing culturally responsive care models.
Per AAMC News:
The statistics are striking: Black and American Indian/Alaskan Native women are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than White women. Black women are twice as likely to experience serious perinatal complications. And early indicators suggest that COVID-19 is only exacerbating such inequities.
What’s more, advanced degrees and full bank accounts don’t close the gap. In fact, a college-educated Black woman faces a 60% greater risk of maternal death than a White woman with no high school diploma. Why is that? Experts point to the effects of subtle and explicit racism as well as weathering, the biological fallout of ongoing stress that can cause premature aging and related health problems.
Academic hospitals and rural patients
It’s no secret that rural patients suffer from lack of access to critical care. Nearly one in five Americans depend on rural hospitals for health care, and the system is failing. AAMC reports their efforts in, for example, reaching more maternal patients in the North Carolina system:
“Patients often need to drive 60 miles or more each way to be seen [at Vidant Medical Center],” says Alan Sacks, MD, who heads ECU’s Maternal Outreach Through Telehealth for Rural Sites (MOTHeRS) Project. “Appointments can be a costly ordeal in wages lost for a day off from work, child care, and transportation. The project is patient-centered. We basically go to them.”
On another holistic note, they also “screen all participants for food insecurity. Those in need immediately receive a food package and are connected to a local food bank. All patients with diabetes or obesity also receive ongoing nutrition counseling.”
Virginia has 110 hospitals, and 28 of them are rural; according to data analyzed by Richmond.com, “as many as five Virginia hospitals stand at ‘immediate’ risk of closure, while another five are headed in that direction.” Thirteen rural hospitals are “running in the red,” which means they spend more to care for patients than they take in. If this trend continues, the chances are good that all 13 will eventually close. If these facilities close, the additional holistic services that academic medicine institutions provide would inevitably be lost as well. This is likely to result in people getting sicker, and receiving less care than they need.
Are academic hospitals the future of healthcare? To us, it appears they could provide 360-degree care to the patient, which can cut down on medical errors and offer better care than the typical hospital conglomerate. We support anything that provides better patient care and treatment.
Since 2004, Jonathan Petty has applied the deep knowledge and experience he gained working on the defense side of litigation to represent ordinary people injured by car accidents and truck accidents, medical malpractice, and defective products in Virginia. He has successfully tried medical malpractice and personal injury cases to verdict in courts throughout Virginia, and he has handled cases on behalf of both plaintiffs and defendants in state and federal courts across the country.