July 16, 1997

Relationship Between National Institutes of Health Research Awards to US Medical Schools and Managed Care Market Penetration

Author Affiliations

From the Center for the Assessment and Management of Change in Academic Medicine (Drs Moy and Griner and Ms Levin), and the Division of Biomedical Research (Mr Mazzaschi and Dr Blake), Association of American Medical Colleges, Washington, DC.

JAMA. 1997;278(3):217-221. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550030057034

Context.  —Medical research conducted in academic medical centers is often dependent on support from clinical revenues generated in these institutions. Anecdotal evidence suggests that managed care has the potential to affect research conducted in academic medical centers by challenging these clinical revenues.

Objective.  —To examine whether empirical evidence supports a relationship between managed care and the ability of US medical schools to sustain biomedical research.

Design.  —Data on annual extramural research grants awarded to US medical schools by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from fiscal years 1986 to 1995 were obtained, and each medical school was matched to a market for which information about health maintenance organization (HMO) penetration in 1995 was available.

Main Outcome Measures.  —Growth in total NIH awards, traditional research project (R01) awards, R01 awards to clinical and basic science departments, and changes in institutional ranking by NIH awards were compared among schools located in markets with low, medium, and high managed care penetration.

Results.  —Medical schools in all markets had comparable rates of growth in NIH awards from 1986 to 1990. Thereafter, medical schools in markets with high managed care penetration had slower growth in the dollar amounts and numbers of NIH awards compared with schools in markets with low or medium managed care penetration. This slower growth for schools in high managed care markets was associated with loss of share of NIH awards, equal to $98 million in 1995, and lower institutional ranking by NIH awards. Much of this revenue loss can be explained by the slower growth of R01 awards to clinical departments in medical schools in high managed care markets.

Conclusions.  —These findings provide evidence of an inverse relationship between growth in NIH awards during the past decade and managed care penetration among US medical schools. Whether this association is causal remains to be determined.