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Using 'Comparative Advantage' to Meet Demand and Strengthen Services for AMCs

Academic Medical Centers (AMCs) have to define and align their priorities to reduce costs and strengthen services. How does physician recruiting help in this process of definition and alignment?

‘Comparative advantage’ is a term often used in the context of the social sciences to describe: the ability of an individual or group to carry out a particular economic activity (such as making a specific product) more efficiently than another activity. The exploration of comparative advantage can be extremely advantageous to Academic Medical Centers as they define and align their priorities to reduce costs and strengthen services. The tripartite mission of AMCs covers research, education, and clinical practice over various areas of medicine, but every AMC in the country cannot excel in all medical sub-specialty. Like states deciding where their resources should be focused, AMCs have to concentrate on building their sub-specialty programs — that have the opportunity for growth and success. These sub-specialty programs should already be an AMC’s strengths, but these programs should not and will not remain stagnant. To reduce an AMC’s costs and strengthen its services overall, resources have to be directed to the growth of the AMC’s sub-specialty of that carries the comparative advantage.

Instances of demographic demand for neurological care across the U.S. show how AMCs are building their neurology programs to maximize their comparative advantage.

Minnesota, Vermont, and Washington are the three states with the highest rates of MS occurrence. AMCs in these three States should be strengthening their neurology programs with physicians who specialize in the study and treatment of Multiple Sclerosis. The challenge for the AMCs is recruiting highly qualified neurologists with expertise and experience in MS treatment and research. As another example, the state of Alabama is in the heart of the “Stroke Belt” where the occurrence of stroke is among the highest in the country yet, the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) is the only accredited Vascular neurology program in the whole state. Thus, UAB is servicing the demand for academic medical care in the subspecialty of vascular neurology for the entire state of Alabama. AMCs will have the patient demand to meet, but it is not easy to fill these highly specialized roles.

Academic Medical Centers can leverage physician recruiters as valuable and trusted partners to help grow the medical programs that are most in demand in the surrounding geographic area. The examples of Multiple Sclerosis and Vascular Neurology were used in this case, but the application is the same across medical disciplines. To excel and grow, reduce costs and strengthen services, AMCs will need to choose the specialties that maximize their comparative advantages, and physician recruiters are an essential part of building programs with experienced physicians to exploit that comparative advantage.

Dislcosure: The Univeristy of Alabama-Birmingham and the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities are clients of Academic Med Physician Recruiters

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