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Medicare for All-Good Idea or Political Death?
What Will Happen with the Generic Drug Companies’ Lawsuit: Lessons from
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The Implications of Increasing Physician Hospital Employment
More Medical Science and Less Advertising
The Need for Improved ICU Severity Scoring
A Labor Day Warning
Keep Your Politics Out of My Practice
The Highest Paid Clerk
The VA Mission Act: Funding to Fail?
What the Supreme Court Ruling on Binding Arbitration May Mean to
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Kiss Up, Kick Down in Medicine 
What Does Shulkin’s Firing Mean for the VA? 
Guns, Suicide, COPD and Sleep
The Dangerous Airway: Reframing Airway Management in the Critically Ill 
Linking Performance Incentives to Ethical Practice 
Brenda Fitzgerald, Conflict of Interest and Physician Leadership 
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The Unspoken Challenges to the Profession of Medicine
EMR Fines Test Trump Administration’s Opposition to Bureaucracy 
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Worst Places to Practice Medicine 
Pain Scales and the Opioid Crisis 
In Defense of Eminence-Based Medicine 
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Mitigating the “Life-Sucking” Power of the Electronic Health Record 
Has the VA Become a White Elephant? 
The Most Influential People in Healthcare 
Remembering the 100,000 Lives Campaign 
The Evil That Men Do-An Open Letter to President Obama 
Using the EMR for Better Patient Care 
State of the VA
Kaiser Plans to Open "New" Medical School 
CMS Penalizes 758 Hospitals For Safety Incidents 
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Guns and Sleep 
Is It Time for a National Tort Reform? 
Time for the VA to Clean Up Its Act 
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Entries in Kaiser (1)

Thursday
Dec242015

Kaiser Plans to Open "New" Medical School 

The not-for-profit health maintenance organization (HMO) giant, Kaiser Permanente, announced plans to open a medical school in Southern California with the first class expected to enroll in the fall of 2019 (1). Kaiser is taking the unusual step of creating its own medical school instead of partnering with a university like recent deals made by North Shore-Long Island Jewish in New York and Beaumont Health in suburban Detroit. “We're not just launching another medical school,” Kaiser CEO Bernard Tyson said. “This is really a medical school in which we're bringing forward all the knowledge and wherewithal we've accumulated over the years as our physicians continue to innovate and drive population health and individual health.” Kaiser still has to work through the details of how the school will be funded and the amount of their investment. Kaiser's annual revenue was $56.4 billion last year, with an operating income of $2.2 billion (2).

Kaiser also announced that Dr. Christine Cassel would leave her role as CEO of the National Quality Forum to lead a team tasked with designing the school's teaching approach (1). Until 2013 Cassel was President and CEO of the American Board of Internal Medicine.

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) estimates a shortage of between 45,000 and 90,000 U.S. physicians by 2025 (3). “The opening of a new medical school will help address this shortage,” Dr. John Prescott, AAMC chief academic officer. However, Kaiser’s announcement is just the first step in building and operating a medical school, which must be accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as the reliable authority for accrediting medical schools. “It’s a multistage process of moving from an idea to a fully accredited medical school,” Prescott said. “What Kaiser has done is announce its intentions. It’s years away from being a fully accredited school.”

Health care experts say opening its own medical school will provide a steady stream of physicians trained in the "Kaiser way" – a team approach of doctors, nurses, therapists and social workers working on behalf of patients (1). Prescott noted that the establishment of a school was a logical step forward for Kaiser (2).

Commercial interests are becoming increasingly involved in medical education. The University of Arizona's College of Medicine-Phoenix medical school was cited in June by the AAMC in four areas that needed to be addressed to avoid probation or loss of accreditation (4). Two of the four areas stemmed from uncertainties about Banner Health's alliance with the medical school after completing a $1 billion-plus acquisition of the two-hospital University of Arizona Health Network in Tucson.

The question is whether medical education will be independent from commercial interests. The physician should be first and foremost the patient’s advocate. However, the perception of many physicians is they are increasingly impaired in this role by the healthcare delivery systems in which they practice. A major concern is whether financial concerns of healthcare delivery systems might be the real motivation behind corporate interest in medical education. This conflict of interest should be a major concern to the AAMC and raises the important question of who will determine the medical education program in Kaiser's medical school-Kaiser or an independent medical school faculty?

Being a physician is a profession. Doctors should be trained to be doctors, not to be employees of healthcare delivery systems. The tone of the announcement is that Kaiser plans on training the latter.

Richard A. Robbins, MD

Editor, SWJPCC

References

  1. Rubenfire A. Kaiser plans to take care model to the source: physician training. Modern Healthcare. December 17, 2015. Available at: http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20151217/NEWS/151219881?utm_source=modernhealthcare&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20151217-NEWS-151219881&utm_campaign=am (accessed 12/18/15).
  2. Terhune C. HMO giant Kaiser Permanente plans to open a medical school in Southern California. Los Angeles Times. December 17, 2015. Available at: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-kaiser-school-of-medicine-20151217-story.html (accessed 12/18/15).
  3. Gordon LK. Managed care giant Kaiser to open medical school. Yahoo! Health. December 18, 2015. Available at: https://www.yahoo.com/health/managed-care-giant-kaiser-to-1323494699909174.html (accessed 12/18/15).
  4. Alltucker K. UA pursues medical-school fixes for accreditors. Arizona Republic. December 10, 2015. Available at: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/arizona/investigations/2015/12/10/ua-pursues-medical-school-fixes-accreditors/77106640/ (accessed 12/18/15).

Cite as: Robbins RA. Kaiser plans to open "new" medical school. Southwest J Pulm Crit Care. 2015;11(6):275-6. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.13175/swjpcc156-15 PDF