Learning more about Strategic Management and Health Care Entrepreneurship: An Interview with Senior Lecturer Carole Carlson

August 6th, 2018

Carole Carlson is the Director of the Heller School MBA Program, where she also teaches courses on Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship. Below is the transcript from a short interview, in which she provides insight about what to expect in her two courses in the EMBA for Physicians curriculum, Strategic Management and Health Care Entrepreneurship, and how the topics apply to the needs of a practicing physician.

What skills can a physician expect to gain from your classes?

For Strategic Management, you gain an ability to diagnose and understand strategic positioning, both for your organization and its competitors, and an ability to understand and align an organization behind a compelling strategy, which often involves change skills as well as strategic skills. More generally, you gain an understanding of the strategy of your current organization and what the implications are for multiple stakeholders. Strategic thinking is fun because you start to look at the world in a different way. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in a restaurant or in a bookstore or on vacation at a hotel; you’re looking around and thinking about the strategy of that organization. I find that really intriguing. It’s a great way to engage with the world.

The entrepreneurship course is little bit more nuanced. It covers how to take an idea from the idea stage to implementation and also how to stop wasting time on bad ideas.  If you asked a group of physicians, “Who wants to be an entrepreneur?” some would put their hands up. If you asked, “Who knows how to be an entrepreneur?” if people are telling the truth, almost no one would put up a hand. It makes sense to understand that process and whether it’s right or wrong for you. Another thing that I found really resonates with physicians in my classes: There’s a lot of issues around founding and cofounding. People don’t tend to become entrepreneurs solo. Thinking through the dilemmas that can arise around cofounders is actually really valuable because if people are pursuing a strictly or narrowly entrepreneurial path, they are typically not going to do it alone. They need to think through these things in order to be able to make it a successful experience.

How can an understanding of both Strategic Management and Health Care Entrepreneurship help physicians in their professional lives?

For Strategic Management, in my experience, the physicians that are attracted to our program want to have a broader impact in their organizations. To do that successfully, it is critical to be able to both understand and promote your organization’s strategy. On the entrepreneurship side, I don’t think you can be an effective leader without having some entrepreneurial skills. Even if you’re not interested in starting a venture, your ability to lead like an entrepreneur, look for new opportunities, articulate them, and help the organization see them is essential. People have different mixes of those skills, depending on their professional situation, but I think both are fundamental building blocks to be a more impactful leader in health care today.

What can you expect during your classes?

In class, you can expect a little bit of up front lecture and then a discussion using the case method, which, if you haven’t done it, is really engaging. It’s an exciting way to think about protagonists in challenging situations, often in health care organizations.  For example, this month we are discussing a company that is commercializing a blood substitute product and one that is innovating in portable ultrasound. We also discussed Netflix: their strategy and how they think about effectively managing through turbulent markets. Those are highly interactive discussions that involve the whole class. Sometimes we get a little excited during these discussions, but at the end of the class, the participants have found that they have thought deeply about how that organization might improve. That type of learning is very intense, but there is a really high level of retention and understanding and you get some fantastic insights through the debate and discussion. Finally, the third part of the class is how those insights relate to program participants in their careers and how they might apply the ideas we discussed to their organizations.


Learning more about Financial and Managerial Accounting: An Interview with Dr. Brenda Anderson

July 11th, 2018

This blog is the first in our series where we interview professors from the Executive MBA for Physicians program about their courses: both their content and their value for a busy, practicing physician. Dr. Brenda Anderson teaches at both The Heller School for Social Policy and Management and the International Business School at Brandeis University. She has also taught at the University of South Wales, Sydney, Northeastern University, and Boston University. Prior to entering academia, Dr. Anderson worked as an auditor for KPMG Peat Marwick and is a Certified Public Accountant.

Below is the transcript from a short interview, where Dr. Anderson provides insight about her two courses in the EMBA for Physicians curriculum: Financial Accounting and Managerial Accounting.

You teach both Financial Accounting and Managerial Accounting. What are the primary differences between these two courses? 

I think it best to employ a health care context in answering this question. While not perfect, I believe this analogy from a clinician’s perspective will quickly capture the essence of the difference between the two courses.

In the examination of a patient presenting symptoms of a medical condition, the physician might look at the patient’s external appearance and current health status to make some type of initial assessment. The first accounting course in the EMBA curriculum, Financial Accounting, is similar to this context in that it addresses how external parties, such as creditors, investors, and regulatory bodies, process information about an economic entity to assess its financial well-being or “health status.” A standard set of financial statements that includes a balance sheet and an income statement are disseminated to these external decision makers for this purpose. The balance sheet tells a story about what the organization owns (assets) and its obligations (liabilities) as well as providing information on owner contributed resources and accumulated profits (equity). This “story” is reported as of a single date in time and, in sum, describes the entity’s financial position. The income statement or statement of operations conveys information about how the organization has performed over an accounting period. It presents the amount of services or goods delivered and matches this “revenue” against resources used in this delivery to measure performance, or in accounting terms, net earnings. Thus, Financial Accounting is a course focused on external financial reporting.

Returning to our patient assessment example, Managerial Accounting would be akin to having the clinician examine diagnostic test results that provide insights as to what is going on internally with the patient so that a medical course of action can be planned going forward. Essentially, Managerial Accounting is a course that focuses on providing decision makers within the organization with information and results of diagnostic tools that will allow them to assess, control and strategically guide the entity.

As this course evolves, the focus is on learning about cost identification, overhead allocation, cost behavior, and how the nature of such behavior impacts net earnings or profits. Critical topics such as break-even and target profit analysis, budgeting, outsourcing and long term project evaluation, such as launching a new service line or opening an ASC, are also examined.

What skills can a physician expect to gain from your class?

Admittedly, I am most certainly biased and steadfast in my beliefs about the critical nature of financial literacy skills. That said, frequent reactions to my class sessions or executive education sessions with physician groups can be summarized as follows.

  • I no longer fear the financial people in my organization.
  • The administrators in my organization are continually talking about margins and overhead allocation. I finally understand their language!
  • I am actually beginning to enjoy learning this stuff but don’t tell anyone.
  • Thank you for teaching us – this is exactly the skillset that I need.

Within such comments, you can hear a very genuine, explicit “thirst” for this content. Physicians truly believe acquisition of knowledge in the areas of finance and accounting is tremendously empowering.

At the completion of the two courses, you will be able to read, interpret and analyze a standard set of financial statements – balance sheet, income statement and statement of cash flows. You will have an excellent working knowledge of the origins of each line item on these financials because we build our own set of start up financial statements together in class and use this as a learning platform for the remainder of the course.

I firmly believe, “If you build it, they will come.”

Further, you will be able to understand the nature of product and service cost measurement and behavior, analyze costs using cost/volume/profit analysis, employ a number of cost allocation techniques, analyze a variety of short term business problems (outsourcing, special orders, etc.) using differential cost approaches, evaluate the costs/benefits associated with capital budgeting, and prepare, analyze and interpret budgets and variance analysis reports.

When all is said and done, you will have a full and overflowing toolkit from which to draw upon when faced with a wide range of financial analysis and decision tasks within your health care organization.


The EMBA for Physicians’ Curriculum: Learning more about the courses

June 13th, 2018

Over the next several months, this blog will collaborate with Executive MBA for Physicians faculty to explore the content of their classes and the subject’s value for a busy, practicing physician. In preparation, below are brief descriptions of the classes in our curriculum, designed for you to scan and read summaries of the classes you are curious about. For more in depth information about specific classes, stay tuned, or reach out to our team at hellerpemba@brandeis.edu.

Clinical and Managerial Uncertainty, Data, and Judgment – Studies how people make decisions. When people make decisions, they draw on data, models (mental or formal), and goals that are shaped by their own experiences and the contexts in which they are immersed. Decision making often suffers when situations include uncertainty, dynamically complex problems, high stakes, and time and performance pressures. We will look for connections between how people make decisions and the organizational outcomes we experience. The course introduces the tools of systems thinking for modeling and analyzing organizational policy and strategy.

Conflict Resolution by Negotiation – Develops in students an understanding of the nature, advantages, and limitations of negotiations as a conflict resolution tool. Provides a normative and practical framework for pursuing a negotiation strategy as a method of resolving disputes. Provides students with opportunities to apply this knowledge in a variety of simulated negotiation contexts. Finally, exposes students to feedback regarding their negotiation approaches.

Corporate Finance I and II – Analyzes the major issues affecting the financial policy of a modern corporation and develops greater depth of financial skills and logical thought processes necessary to formulate and implement business decisions. Reviews foundational theoretical concepts before going on to discuss real-life cases dealing with major issues, such as firm valuation, capital structure and security issuances, payout policies, and corporate restructuring. These issues are central to the investment, financing, and strategic policy decisions facing financial managers.

Economic Analysis for Physicians as Managers – Introduces tools of economics that can be used for managerial decision making in the health sector. A framework based on optimization of objectives will enable us to organize information concerning input costs, the market for output, and technology. We will consider the economics of supply and production, consumer demand, and market power and examine health policy initiatives that attempt to change managerial and consumer incentives to change market outcomes.

Executive Team Consulting Project – For an in depth description of this class, see our previous blog: Making the Most of Your EMBA: The Executive Team Consulting Project – From Real Learning to Real Life

Financial Accounting – Develops a fundamental understanding of financial accounting and reporting issues as they apply to nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Students will acquire skills enabling them to read and analyze the statement of earnings, balance sheet and statement of cash flows. Accounting practices that are unique to nonprofits will be introduced, discussed and differentiated from those practices employed by for profit enterprises. Students will examine financial statements from organizations such as hospitals, large and small non-profits, retailers and manufacturers. The course emphasizes how accounting information, in a variety of organizational settings, can be utilized by decision makers.

Health Care Entrepreneurship – Enables students to master the fundamentals of entrepreneurship. It explores how entrepreneurship has become a driving force in the healthcare sector, provides tools for developing and evaluating new ventures, and explores the blurring line between for profit and non-profit social initiatives. The course is designed to provide an intellectual and practical framework for students interested in exercising their entrepreneurial energy to solve problems in healthcare and explores the process of launching a new venture, particularly in the healthcare sector.

Healthcare Technology and Information – Discusses the role of science and technology in healthcare settings. Through case studies of technology companies (pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device, and information technology), the class examines how firms manage the creation, development, adoption, and spread of medical innovations in the context of a cost-constrained marketplace. The class uses current academic literature and newspaper articles to discuss how hospitals, insurers, and federal agencies can affect technological progress.

Health Law and Ethics – Introduces students to patient care and liability issues within the context of the U.S. healthcare delivery system. The course will cover legal and ethical aspects of: 1.) the provider/patient relationship and liability; 2.) healthcare quality, cost, and access; 3.) relationships between physicians and organizations; 4.) insurance, healthcare delivery systems, regulation, and the Affordable Care Act.

Leadership and Organizational Behavior – Focuses on leadership and managing organizations. Uses cases on a variety of organizations to expose students to problems and to improve their effectiveness in analyzing, diagnosing, and leading people in organizations. Students learn organizational concepts, analytic frameworks, and models, and practice their leadership skills in class. Uses case discussions, simulations, role-playing, mini-lecturing, and experimental exercises.

Leadership Coaching – For an in depth description of this class, see our previous blog: Making the most of your EMBA: Leadership Coaching

Management of Healthcare Organizations – Introduces students to the concepts, theories, and practical problems of managing people in healthcare organizations. Case material is drawn from hospital, HMO, group practice, public health agency, and for-profit company settings. Students gain a better understanding of the range of strategic and operational problems faced by managers, some of the analytic tools to diagnose problems, and the role of leadership (and management) in improving performance.

Managerial Accounting – Provides general introduction to the concepts, problems, and issues related to managerial accounting. Managerial accounting predominantly addresses the internal use of economic information regarding the resources used in the process of producing goods and providing services. Fundamental aspects of cost behavior and cost accounting will be discussed, but always from the perspective of the manager who must make decisions rather than the accountant who prepares the information.

Marketing – Provides students with an in-depth understanding of the key concepts of marketing and applying them to product and service applications as well as to for-profit and not-for-profit organizations and companies in the health sector. This course is also designed to provide an opportunity for participants collectively to analyze and solve complex marketing problems and to explore, through the study of the marketing of health-related services, the interrelationship between marketing, operations, human resources, information systems, and finance.

National Health Policy – An overview of the U.S. healthcare system is followed by a critical analysis of the major issues and trends in the healthcare field. Concentrates on the activities of federal and state governments and the private sector. Also explores likely future issues affecting our health system. Of special concern is the issue of the large number of Americans with no or inadequate health insurance. A related problem is the rising cost of medical care, which results in increases in the number of uninsured.

Operations Management – Addresses healthcare operations, which is the management of interconnected processes or systems which facilitate diagnosis, treatment, payment, physician education, and administrative tasks. Uses concepts and tools from management science, decision support, and the science of systems as well as the organization’s strategy to determine the most efficient and optimal methods to support patient care delivery. The course covers several main topics: process analysis, process improvement (which includes patient safety), inventory management, and linear programming.

Quality and Performance Measurement in Health Care – A conceptual and analytic framework of the field of quality of healthcare, which includes quality improvement and performance measurement; understanding of the contemporary research and policy initiatives that relate to quality of healthcare; and insights into the ways that quality relates to issues of provider payment, organization of healthcare facilities, and costs of and access to healthcare. By the end, students should have an understanding of the centrality of quality of care issues in contemporary health services research, healthcare policy, and management of healthcare organizations.

Relational Coordination Masterclass – Students will learn about relational coordination—and its impact on quality, safety, efficiency, employee well-being, learning, and innovation. Students will learn how to analyze work processes that pose a coordination challenge, mapping out the current state of relational coordination, and assessing areas of strength and areas in need of improvement. Students will learn how to diagnose these structures that weaken or strengthen relational coordination. Moving from analysis to action, students engage with key stakeholders regarding a coordination challenge in their organization.

State Health Policy – Examines the role of states in the U.S. healthcare system. Provides an overview of state activities in health, including state responsibilities for managing health programs and institutions. Outlines and explores the policy and legislative processes. States’ efforts to reform their healthcare systems are discussed with special attention to implementation issues, barriers, limits of state action, and prospects for the future of state health reform.

Strategic Management – In an increasingly complex and dynamic healthcare environment, physician leaders are constantly called upon to both set strategies for their organizations and ensure effective implementation. This course covers the fundamentals of both strategy development and strategy execution as it applies to healthcare organizations. Using cases from a variety of sectors, we will explore core strategy frameworks and then examine the requirements for effective implementation.


Alumni Reunion: Maintaining Relationships and Forging New Connections

May 23rd, 2018

Current students meet alumni

The informal connections that participants make with one another throughout Brandeis’s Executive MBA for Physicians program are as important as the formal classroom learning. Participants create and nurture professional connections, which allow them to provide support to one another throughout the program and beyond.

Earlier this month, Executive MBA for Physicians alumni gathered back together, almost one year after graduation. Alumni participated in a variety of social, academic, and reflective events, including a simulation and facilitated discussion with Dr. Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld and a webinar with Dr. Stuart Altman. Alumni also met the current class of physicians, both in the classroom as guest speakers and during an evening reception.

We are heartened to see that these strong connections forged during the program continue with our alumni and that new connections are being formed between cohorts.

 

Our alumni had this to say about the reunion:

“Being with my eMBA classmates centered me.  We picked up right where we left off. Not a beat skipped. I am so proud and honored to be part of this cohort.”

 

“It was incredibly gratifying to be back on campus with 13 of my classmates almost exactly a year after graduating the Heller EMBA program.  The highlight of the event, and it was always the central focus, was the time spent with my classmates sharing ideas, experiences, and new challenges.  It is such a unique, insightful, smart, collegial group – I think we all just feel grateful that we have each other to lean on as friends and colleagues.

To be back, walking the long pictured hallways, surrounded once again with the sights and smells that were the backdrop of our amazing 16 month journey was icing on the cake.

What EMBA reunion would be complete without dedicated time to commune with key faculty – we enjoyed every minute of both sessions.

Dr. Gershenfeld, a tremendous new addition to the faculty, was very generous with his time and expertise and managed in a short morning exercise to impart as much insight on negotiation as we gleaned in several sessions during our 16 months.   We’re grateful for the gift of his time.

My sense is that we are going to want to do this again next year.  And the year after.  Etc…”

 

“I loved the instant re-connection with our classmates.  The Saturday session brought me back to our classes instantly and in a good way.  By having an organized facilitated session on campus, it felt like we never left the program, and the day was just a wonderful continuation of the learning and friendships.   I personally enjoyed meeting the new cohort both in the social setting and facilitating a short session on focused clinic.  I hope I was able to teach them something and felt like I connected with cohort in a way that I would not have otherwise.   I hope other students in our class can become guest speakers, facilitators, peer mentors, coaches for this or future classes  – I think there will be mutual benefit.”

 

“Reunion May 2018 was a fantastic way to:

  • catch up with over 30% of our class (we missed all you others who could not make it this time, but you were in our hearts!)
  • meet members of the current EMBA class (go new team!)
  • meet Prof. Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld who has clearly hit the ground running teaching Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
  • and see faculty and staff!!

For old times’ sake, classmates shared some wonderful work they are doing – leading (!) sessions on leadership at his hospital in MD; addressing large scale policy issues in VT; and wrestling with the intersection of his company’s program development and hospital HR matters at his clients’ hospitals. Sharing these experiences once again gave us the greatest gift of all from our shared learning and time together – the opportunity to problem solve together and provide one another with mutual support!

Thanks to all who made this possible and here’s to many more reunions in the future!”


The Heller Difference: Why physicians choose a Brandeis education

April 4th, 2018

Heller combines extensive experience providing executive education to physicians, a faculty composed of leading healthcare scholars and practitioners, and on-campus research institutes that continually advance the knowledge, best practices, and future thinking within the field. With Heller recently ranked for the first time among schools of health policy and management, at number eleven, the Executive MBA for Physicians provides MDs, DOs, DMDs and DDSs a healthcare management education with curriculum and classroom engagement refined by experts.

Experience

The Heller School has been on the forefront of educating future and practicing physicians since 1995. During that time, we have gained extensive experience delivering programs that help physicians improve the quality, efficiency, and accessibility of healthcare. Our MD/MBA program in partnership with Tufts University School of Medicine and our executive education offerings for practicing physicians give our Executive MBA a strong foundation.

Heller’s longstanding dual MD/MBA with Tufts University School of Medicine has a curriculum built off of its traditional MBA program but positioned specifically for the context of healthcare. In just 4 years, future physician leaders train not only to be outstanding clinicians, but also to succeed in critical areas of management and leadership that lead to a better understanding of an increasingly complex environment. Heller faculty has used this curriculum as a basis for the Executive MBA and tailors it to better fit the needs of currently practicing physicians.

Heller also has numerous executive education programs for practicing physicians in partnership with various medical societies and foundations. For example, The Brandeis Leadership Program in Health Policy and Management is an annual program sponsored by the American College of Surgeons, the Thoracic Surgery Foundation, and 14 other surgical societies. The Heller School-Hanley Center PELI Advanced Executive Leadership Course is a partnership program with Maine’s statewide Physician Executive Leadership Institute (PELI). Heller also has a partnership with the Physicians Foundation, offering healthcare management education to incoming heads of various state medical societies. These programs and others like them honed our Heller faculty’s skills educating practicing physicians.

Faculty

Our faculty includes academics and physicians on the front lines of medical practice and policy who are experienced in educating current and aspiring physician leaders. Heading the faculty is the program’s director, Dr. Jon A. Chilingerian, PhD, a professor at Brandeis and professor of public health and community medicine at Tufts School of Medicine. He is co-author of the book, International Health Care Management.

Dr. Chilingerian is joined by senior Brandeis faculty, including Dr. Stuart Altman, PhD, the Sol C. Chaikin Professor of National Health Policy at the Heller School, who serves as chairman of the Health Policy Commission for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He has been named one of the “100 Most Powerful People in Healthcare” multiple times by Modern Healthcare magazine. In addition, Dr. Jody Hoffer Gittell, PhD is the founder of the Relational Coordination Research Collaborative, which brings practitioners together to help organizations build relational coordination for high performance. Her research explores how workers, leaders, and customers contribute to quality and efficiency through their coordinated efforts.  Faculty bring this, and other, relevant expertise to the EMBA classroom.

Research and Institutes

The Heller School is home to a strong research community that enriches the EMBA’s content. The Schneider Institutes for Health Policy are three nationally regarded research institutes that enable EMBA participants to engage in a rich exchange of ideas with renowned educators, researchers and analysts in the field of healthcare policy development. The Institute for Behavioral Health focuses on the intersection of health, behavior, and systems of care. The Institute on Healthcare Systems is dedicated to providing innovative technical solutions to healthcare stakeholders who are attempting to improve quality, efficiency, and value in healthcare. The Institute for Global Health and Development focuses on the structure and delivery of healthcare, with an emphasis on the Universal Health Coverage agenda. The strong research community at Heller connects the EMBA faculty and students with the latest in health policy and management.


The Executive MBA for Physicians program benefits from the Heller faculty’s extensive expertise in both physician education and healthcare management and policy to educate physicians about the new science of medicine and management. Heller’s community fosters leaders who are committed to finding practical solutions to real problems affecting people all over the world. The Executive MBA for Physicians builds on this legacy to educate physicians about how to navigate the ever shifting world of healthcare.


It’s nothing like it was: EMBA for Physicians Alumnus Dr. Tom Tracy on his experience after the program

March 7th, 2018

Years ago, my wife and I tasted the most incredible pinot noir. Long after, we visited the winery where it was made. The owner took us to every corner of the vineyard to help us understand the hard work that went into the experience of every sip. Every small detail– why those particular cultivars, the specific days of harvest, the microclimate on that hill, and the barrels in this shed– helped us to better understand and value the wine. This wine for us is now nothing like it was before we had this experience.

As my career progressed through the surgical care of children, to the development (and funding) of a respected lab, and to the opportunity to lead and grow a new children’s hospital, I found the challenges tremendously satisfying. As “the crucibles of leadership” presented themselves, I found I could get through them more or less by following prior examples, good or bad. The teams I had were adequate and collegial but often hindered by limited know-how. I was at the table for most conversations mainly out of respect, not expertise or enlightened perspective. Like many in academic medicine, I had arrived at the role of Chief Medical Officer with enthusiasm for the opportunity to help make clinicians, their teams, and their programs successful. But is enthusiasm enough? How would my partner executives and I actually help the organization harness and deliver the innovations just over the horizon? I knew enough to know that, as in medicine, a deep fund of knowledge and the understanding of how to apply it was critical to successful healthcare leadership.

I had considered business school many times for no specific reasons. Finance or project management, marketing and economics, even strategy, were the scattered and poorly understood concepts that I contemplated. Ultimately, I just couldn’t see the return on investment.  That is, until I reached a point where I was floundering to conceptualize, develop, and deliver meaningful solutions. I could no longer fall back on, or move forward with, solely my past experiences.

Brandeis’s Executive MBA for Physicians was a chance and a risk for me and my growth as a leader. Together with a group of unique and very accomplished classmates, we were led through each business foundation to discover just how much we lacked in our background and experiences. The program, like the tour from the wine makers, gave us the opportunity to break down the elements of a process, understand them more fully, and explore how to best fit them together for your desired results.  We eventually developed into master blenders who could craft future paths through intersections of business, policy and clinical care.

Currently, I am a CMO in a big system with a large scope. My perspective now reaches further than managing a greater number of direct reports, interacting with cost centers, or ensuring a place at the table with accomplished leaders. The EMBA developed in me different and powerful faculties and internal resources. As a result, I can use my better understanding of complexities, required collaboration, and meaningful controls to find new ways forward. The barriers to health care delivery, in reality, have not changed, but my former frustration rapidly fades into fair process and business systems approaches to bring the best into and out of any challenge.

I had a call with my long time executive coach one afternoon after a particularly intense series of crises. I shared with him just how much the change I had experienced during the EMBA meant to me. I now brought a different skill set to working with an associate to bring a new genomic test “into our market” or with lean teams to develop new operational excellence at an over-capacity surgical service. Three more examples later my coach cut me off and said, “For now I’m going to leave you in your bliss, we’ll talk next month” and hung up. Listening to the dead receiver I thought, “Just like the wine, now it’s nothing like it was.”

Dr. Thomas Tracy is an EMBA for Physicians alumnus, class of 2017 and is currently the CMO in a large medical system.


EMBA for Physicians’ Hybrid Structure – Created with busy physicians in mind

February 7th, 2018

It’s 10:30 a.m. on a Thursday.  Dr. Jon Chilingerian has just finished talking about the role of leadership in strategic thinking and decision making in healthcare, using a case about a real healthcare professional. He asked us for our own experiences and provided us with some frameworks to consider when facing similar challenges in the future. After break, we will be working with our study groups to apply the concepts we have learned in a simulated business experience.

This afternoon we will learn about process analysis with Dr. J. Bradley Morrison in Operations Management. In the course’s introductory session earlier this week, we played an interactive game that introduced and framed many of the everyday operations challenges we might experience in our organizations. In this session, we will explore how to analyze these situations, determine how they occur, and discuss what we can do to alleviate them.

At dinner tonight, we will be hearing remotely from Dr. Stuart Altman, our professor for the National Health Policy course next semester. He will be offering an informal “fireside chat” about the future of universal healthcare in this country and setting a groundwork for what we can expect during his class. When dinner ends, I will be going back to my room to work through some balance sheets for Financial Accounting.


The schedule of Brandeis University’s Executive MBA for Physicians program is different from most traditional degree programs. Its creators sought input from numerous focus groups of practicing physicians to make sure the schedule responds to their varied and complex professional and personal time constraints. Instead of attending weekly class meetings over a 14-week semester, physicians complete coursework in shorter, more intense, periods of instruction designed specifically for a mid-career physician’s lifestyle. The program combines four rigorous 10-day residency sessions (with days similar to the one outlined above) with two to six hours a week of live, online coursework for a total of 16 months.

Many EMBA programs require attending live residency sessions twice a month on weekends. Our design of four 10-day sessions reduces the number of trips and the overall amount of time away from work and family, while immersing physicians in a concentrated learning environment. In the ten days, participants rotate through half a semester’s worth of coursework with two to three classes a day and group work, guest speakers and prep time in the evenings. They learn, study, eat, and sleep all in the same facility – an executive conference center with many amenities that cater to this type of program. Participants make the most of the hours they have together studying with and learning from each other in both formal and informal ways.

Physicians engage in powerful learning throughout the residencies, and coursework continues during the months in between with online sessions. These synchronous webinars allow classmates and faculty to meet to further discuss theories and their practical application. The webinars mirror a classroom as much as possible. Groups can meet in virtual breakout rooms, participants can share their screen to present to the rest of the class, faculty can lead case discussions, and guest speakers can engage remotely as they would in person. These sessions occur on Saturdays or weeknights and can often generate ideas that will be put into practice at work the very next day.

Busy professionals need to carve out intentional time to engage in an educational experience. A program for working professionals should have a schedule that aligns with the needs of its participant and balances thorough, rigorous study with the reality of work and life. Heller’s EMBA for Physicians intertwines participants’ work and learning for 16 months to advance their knowledge and practice of the new science of medicine and management.


Making the Most of Your EMBA: The Executive Team Consulting Project – From Real Learning to Real Life

December 7th, 2017

By: Sally Ourieff, MD
Lecturer and Faculty for the Executive Team Consulting Project

Program Director Dr. Jon Chilingerian aptly describes the Heller School’s Executive MBA (EMBA) for Physicians curriculum as teaching “at the nexus of medicine and management science.” As an EMBA for Physicians student, you learn a great deal about the science of management. In your Executive Team Consulting Project (ETCP), you learn the “art” of applying that new knowledge in the real world. In the process, you will face tough challenges and have to solve interesting problems. You will also discover, however, the best in yourself and your colleagues and have some fun along the way.

The goal of the ETCP is for each student to launch, lead, and work with a team of their colleagues to complete a change initiative that impacts an aspect of their own work in health care. This could be a problem that needs to be solved or an opportunity that can be leveraged. It can relate to anything from service delivery, organizational effectiveness, or quality, safety and performance metrics, to a clinical innovation, cost savings, patient education, or access to care. It can be any issue that you believe needs to be addressed and will make a difference for those with whom you work or serve.

One of the first challenges is choosing the right project. The project spans the entire 16 months of the program and culminates with a paper and poster presentation in the 4th and final semester. You will spend a lot of time on this so choose something you are genuinely interested in and care about. It should, however, also be important to your organization, leaders, and colleagues. It is hard to rally a team to implement an idea you love but no one else thinks is valuable! It should be ambitious but doable; require a team but not overburden them; enable you to grow as a leader but empower your team to lead as well; tie-in specific learning but push you to learn new things. In the end, the ETCP prepares you to return to your life post-MBA with a proven record of implementing a successful change initiative that made a difference. I will provide you with lots of support, as will the entire faculty. We are here to help you succeed. Most importantly, you will have each other as your most dedicated support network.

We have had very positive feedback on this project experience. Students have told us that it is one of the best aspects of the program, and they welcomed the opportunity to implement a major project in their own institution. They also appreciated hearing about all the work their classmates had been doing throughout the semester. According to one student, “I learned 35 different approaches to project management and leadership.” The ETCP brings to life all the facets of your learning. There is a lot to look forward to.


Alumni Updates: 6 months after graduation

November 1st, 2017

This November marks six months since our Class of 2017 received their Master of Business Administration. To celebrate this milestone, we checked in with some of our physicians to ask what they have been up to and how their degrees have been helping them at work. Read more below how they have been able to apply their learning below:

 

Dr. Aristides “JR” Cruz

The Heller School’s Executive MBA for Physicians program helps strengthen and solidify physicians’ instincts to change things for the better.  My experience with the program provides a real-life example for this.  As a Pediatric Orthopaedic surgeon, I treat children with broken bones on a daily basis.  When I arrived at my current institution, I noticed that kids were routinely receiving XRAYS in the Emergency Department after their bones were set, despite the use of XRAY during the actual procedure of setting their bones.  To me, this was a potential waste of time, resources, and also may have been exposing children to more radiation than necessary.  After asking colleagues both in my department and the emergency department as to why we were ordering these XRAYS, answers varied from: “we have to make sure the bone was set correctly” (reasonable) to “that’s just how it’s always been done” (not so reasonable).  I decided that this practice and process was ripe for change and the tools learned during my 16 months as a student in Heller’s EMBA program provided me with the knowhow to accomplish this.

Operations Management taught me how to map out the process and find targets for change.  Relational Coordination taught me how to engage all the people involved in the process and obtain buy-in to work as a team to change it.  Management of Healthcare organizations taught me how complex healthcare systems are and how difficult it can be to change even a seemingly simple process.  In fact, each class taught me pieces of what I needed in order to accomplish this goal.  After almost two years of work, this project resulted in a better process for patients, parents, and providers and has been also recognized as important from professional peers resulting in publication of our results in a peer-reviewed journal (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29049266).  The Heller School’s EMBA program was instrumental in this achievement and has sparked my nascent interest in the science and discipline of medicine and management.

 

Dr. Heidi Larson

I am using every bit of what I learned in our EMBA Program, from strategy to financial accounting, operations and leadership and organizational behavior.  I am combining all my newfound skills with my 20 years of family medicine experience as the Medical Director for Population Health at Eastern Maine Medical Center.  Working with patients and families, clinicians and administrators, I am helping to manage costs and utilization through a grant-funded research project I developed to help reduce our rates of readmission to the hospital.  I am involved in developing strategy around MACRA and, through the ACO, looking ahead to ways we can redesign our practice workflows to prepare us for the transition to value-based payment models.

The health policy and legislative training I received at Brandeis was instrumental in helping me to get involved at the State level with Advance Care Planning/Maine’s Death with Dignity Act, and also with Maine Providers Standing Up for Healthcare.  I have presented testimony at the State legislature and also communicated directly with Senator Susan Collins on important issues regarding how we care for the most sick and vulnerable among us.  “Health equity as a social justice contract” is near and dear to my heart, and a topic I will advance at every opportunity.

I am very grateful for the experience and inspiration of this MBA Program.  I am especially thankful to my incredible classmates without whose support and engagement with lively debate I would not be doing any of this.

 

Dr. Michael Lynch

Since graduation in May, I have continued to work as an ED doc and have continued my role as Chair of Emergency Medicine.  In addition, I am Chair of the Concord Hospital Trust, which oversees the use of philanthropic funds.  I have also joined one of the oversight boards for the hospital corporation.  Although I have not changed jobs, my experience in the Brandeis EMBA has forever changed my perspective on health care and the lens through which I view not just medicine but the world.  And, consistent with the themes that Jon laid out for us as we began our journey, I have learned and continue to challenge assumptions, my own and those of my colleagues.  As I said many times, I thought I would like the program and the learning, but I didn’t know how much I would love it and how many wonderful people I would meet.  I miss being with that crew, both my classmates and the professors and the admin team.


The EMBA for Physicians Classroom Experience

October 4th, 2017

The Classroom Experience

The Heller School’s Executive MBA (EMBA) for Physicians is focused on improving both clinical outcomes and financial results in healthcare organizations by training physician-leaders in the new science of medicine and management.  The learning environment integrates the students’ medical expertise with new knowledge in critical areas ranging from health policy and economics to operations, high performance leadership, and healthcare innovation.   Learn more about the classroom experience below.

Modes of presenting material

The EMBA uses a variety of teaching methods to ensure students remain engaged in the learning and absorb the information.  The methods include lectures, case studies, problem sets, simulations, individual reflection, and small group work.  For instance, in Dr. Jon Chilingerian’s Leadership and Organizational Behavior course, students practice their leadership skills through a simulation where the goal is to identify support and resistance to a new idea throughout the organizational hierarchy.  In Dr. Michael Doonan’s State Health Policy course, students develop and present mock legislative testimony and receive live feedback from their classmates to prepare them to take their expertise back to their own state legislatures.  Regardless of the method, faculty look for creative ways to enhance student learning.

Professors well versed in teaching physicians

The EMBA was developed on a foundation of over twenty years teaching dual MD/MBA students and twelve years partnering with healthcare organizations to educate physician executives about the new science of medicine and management.  Our faculty are very familiar with the needs of physician learners and are able to go deeper than a typical MBA curriculum to illustrate how the concepts they are teaching apply to the field.  Many of the examples and cases used are healthcare focused – even in quantitative courses such as Accounting – so students see a full picture of the intersections between business skills and clinical practice. The faculty also pull from their extensive experience shaping healthcare policy on a state and national level. For example, Dr. Stuart Altman, the Sol C. Chaikin Professor of National Health Policy at the Heller School, serves as chairman of the Health Policy Commission for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Leveraging the medical experience in the room

Every student in the room is a mid-career, practicing physician who brings valuable professional experience to classroom discussions.  The Class of 2017 had 800+ years of clinical experience collectively between the 36 students.  That background provided examples, best practices, and a common language amongst the students that accelerated the collective comprehension of the material and how to apply it within the industry.  Students understand each other and the environments in which they work much more fully than if the program was open to people from other industries, or even to people in other roles within healthcare.  That understanding also increases the ability of students to support one another educationally and professionally through the program.  The bond built within the cohort and the ability to leverage each other’s professional knowledge have numerous benefits, especially within the classroom.

Online courses

After the residency periods, the courses continue with online sessions.  These sessions, also referred to as webinars, are accessed remotely – from home, work, conferences, vacations – but they still resemble a live classroom setting.  They are “synchronous”, meaning that the professor and students all join the session at the same time to teach and engage in the material.  The software mimics a classroom with live video of all participants, the option for a student to virtually raise their hand to ask or answer questions, and breakout rooms to split the class into groups during the session to work on projects and tackle specific questions.  This style differs from typical online courses, which are usually “asynchronous” and lead students through a structured series of modules and quizzes without live professor interaction.  The synchronous model tends to work well for people who prefer a traditional classroom setting.  It also allows faculty to judge the comprehension of the material by the entire class in a real-time way and allows students to bring their questions and concerns to the whole class at once.


Protected by Akismet
Blog with WordPress

Welcome Guest | Login (Brandeis Members Only)