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Ann Plast Surg. 2002 Apr;48(4):348-54.

Effects of managed care on teaching, research, and clinical practice in academic plastic surgery.

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Section of Plastic Surgery, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520-8041, USA.


The aim of this study was to determine: 1) if there have been changes in teaching, research, and clinical practice in academic plastic surgery in recent years; and 2) if there have been, are they associated with changes in the managed care environment? Gaining a clearer perspective on how managed care affects academic plastic surgery will enable academicians to define better the problems and opportunities they face mutually and to respond effectively to these issues. This study used a cross-sectional study design. Reference time periods were the premanaged care era (1990-1991) versus the current time (1997-1998). Data were collected by questionnaires sent to 94 academic program directors in plastic surgery. The main independent variable of managed care was measured as the difference in the percent of income from health maintenance organizations generated by each program in 1990 to 1991 versus 1997 to 1998. The dependent variables of teaching, research, and clinical practice were measured by the percentage of time spent in each category, the number of work hours per week, the number of staff personnel, the location of teaching, the number of grants and publications, and the percentage of reconstructive and cosmetic cases in 1990 to 1991 versus 1997 to 1998. Univariate analysis, paired Student's t-test, Fisher's exact test, Pearson's correlation, Spearman's correlation, and linear regression were used to establish significance (alpha = 0.05) of the effects of managed care on dependent variables. Sixty-six questionnaires were completed and returned (70% response rate). There were significant changes in the managed care environment, clinical practice (operating room and clinics), and research in academic plastic surgery from 1990 to 1997. The percentage of income generated from managed care increased from 9.8% (of total revenue) in 1990 to 23.6% in 1997 (an increase of 13.8%; p < 0.0001). Academic plastic surgeons were found to spend significantly more time in clinical practice (3% more of total time spent; 5.3 hours more per week in 1997; p < 0.016). This change correlated significantly with the increase in managed care (p < 0.015). In addition, the percentage of cosmetic cases increased from 18.0% in 1990 to 28.3% in 1997 (p < 0.001), and that of reconstructive surgery was reduced proportionately (p < 0.001). Also, a significant decrease in the time spent for research was observed (mean reduction, 2.8 hours less per week; p < 0.001). Although the trend was to a lower number, there were no significant changes in the amount of time spent in teaching (p > 0.08) and in administrative duty (p > 0.06), or in the number of personnel employed in the teaching programs (p > 0.05). In summary, these findings suggest that: 1) a greater percentage of revenue was generated from managed care in 1997 than in 1990, indicating a growing fiscal influence by managed care on academic plastic surgery; 2) furthermore, this change is associated with academic plastic surgeons devoting more time to clinical practice and less time to research endeavors; and 3) although managed care policies do affect teaching adversely, this effect has not yet reached significance for the period examined during this study.

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