Redesign of US Medical Schools: A Shift from Health Service to Population Health Management

Popul Health Manag. 2021 Jul 2. doi: 10.1089/pop.2021.0097. Online ahead of print.


The integration of medical schools and clinical partners is effectively established through the formation of academic medical centers (AMCs). The tripartite mission of AMCs emphasizes the importance of providing critical clinical services, medical innovation through research, and the education of future health care leaders. Although AMCs represent only 5% of all hospitals, they contribute substantially to serving disadvantaged populations of patients, including an estimated 37% of all charity care and 26% of all Medicaid hospitalizations. Currently, most AMCs use a business model centered upon revenue generated from hospital services and/or practice plans. In the last decade, mounting financial demands have placed significant pressure on AMC finances because of the rising costs associated with complex clinical care and operating diverse graduate medical education programs. A shift toward population health-centric health care management strategies will profoundly influence the predominant forms of health care delivery in the United States in the foreseeable future. Health systems are increasingly pursuing new strategies to manage financial risk, such as forming Accountable Care Organizations and provider-sponsored plans to provide value-based care. Refocusing research and operational capacity toward population health management fosters collaboration and enables reintegration with hospital and clinical partners across care networks, and can potentially create new revenue streams for AMCs. Despite the benefits of population health integration, current literature lacks a blueprint to guide AMCs in the transformation toward sustainable population health management models. The purpose of this paper is to propose a modern conceptual framework that can be operationalized by AMCs in order to achieve a sustainable future.

Keywords: academic medical center; medical school revenue structure; value-based care.