Entrepreneurial EMBA Physician Brings Quality Medical Care to Campers

November 7th, 2018

Dr. Jill Baren is a member of the Executive MBA for Physicians class of 2019 and an emergency physician who has been practicing for 25 years. She was also one of the first physicians to subspecialize in pediatric emergency medicine. She has practiced in both urban academic hospitals and freestanding children’s hospital emergency departments. Currently, she is Professor of Emergency Medicine, Pediatrics, and Medical Ethics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also President-Elect of the American Board of Emergency Medicine. Below, we discussed Dr. Baren’s new venture, Camp Health Consulting, which helps camps achieve exceptional standards of healthcare by providing education, operational advice, and recruitment of qualified nurses and doctors to work in the unique setting of a camp . We discussed the venture, how it came to be, and how the EMBA for Physicians program has been helpful so far.

Can you tell us about your venture?

I founded Camp Health Consulting with my business partner who is also an emergency physician. Both of us are passionate about working as physicians in residential camp settings, or “sleepaway camps”, as some people call them. Camps provide a great atmosphere for kids and offer various activities such as sports, science, outdoor adventure, and plenty of social interaction away from the internet! Camps are often located in more remote environments, in mountainous or lake areas, so the proximity to medical care can be relatively limited. My partner and I have a very long tenure as camp physicians (over 25 years between us) and both of us attended summer camps when we were growing up. We noticed that there were gaps in the standard of care that’s delivered at camp and in the skills of the providers that are typically recruited to work in camp settings. Many camps use nurses, not doctors. Nurses are trained on a treatment rather than a diagnostic paradigm so it’s harder for them to figure out undifferentiated complaints or perplexing problems without physician backup. Sometimes that can result in unnecessary trips to a hospital. In a typical camp health center you will see a combination of infectious diseases, dermatology, orthopedic, and mental health complaints, among other things. We think the best skillset for camp doctoring is emergency medicine, but other physicians with proper training and experience can be taught to fill in the gaps. We work with camp directors and owners to address deficiencies. Some camp health centers are starting from ground zero. They have no idea how to set up a health center and want advice about how many people should staff it, what their qualifications should be, and how they should deal with parent communication issues. We’re actively building our recruitment arm of the company. As clinicians, we have greater accessibility to clinicians and knowledge of the industry. Camp directors are busy recruiting everyone else needed to run a camp and find it difficult to recruit their health center staff each summer. When a camp decides to hire us to assist with recruitment, we will deliver an educated nurse or doctor – one that meets our standards and has gone through a series of educational modules that focus on the unique healthcare needs of kids at camp.

What sparked this idea?

It was nothing more than my own clinical experience working as a camp doctor at a summer camp that my sons attended many years ago. The director of this camp was invested in providing an injury free, healthy camp environment for nearly 300 campers and 100 staff, but didn’t always have the optimal tools to do so. For example, we had a medication distribution system that needed to be improved from a safety and efficiency standpoint and we worked together to accomplish that. There were other challenges I observed that made me think, “Wow, this is a business waiting to happen.” A few years ago, I met my business partner. A colleague connected us, and we instantly clicked as we had noticed the same exact issues at our respective camps and both had a love of camping. We agreed to build a business to improve healthcare at camps.  We spent another year ironing out the business concept and then established the company. Now we’ve got a number of people involved. We have independent contractors, equity partners, and advisory board members, and we’re pretty excited about how quickly it has developed. We will be launching our products and services in the summer of 2019.

How has the EMBA for Physicians been helpful in growing your venture?

The EMBA program has been incredibly helpful. Most importantly, my classmates are so excited for me. They are interested in my business and have supported me, reaffirming my ideas. It’s like having a bunch of cheerleaders. There have been a number of classes that have been directly related to my work. Just this week, I went over my monthly financial statements with my bookkeeper and knew how to ask the right questions and easily follow the balance sheet. I learned how to do cash flow projections for the business. The program has provided me with real world knowledge that I can apply right away. The entrepreneurship course has also been a great help. I pitched my business in a slide deck for the class project and got pages of comments back from the professor. I’ve never had a professor take that much time to give such detailed feedback and I was really appreciative. Having the EMBA side by side, paralleling the development of the company, has been fantastic for me.

What advice would you give to a physician who is thinking about pursuing an entrepreneurial venture?

There are so many things you can do as a physician. The jobs are limitless. You just have to think outside of the box. I created this company but have no immediate plans to leave my position as a leader in academic medicine and a leader in my specialty nationally. Physicians should be empowered to believe that there are lots of jobs accessible to them and that many doors can be opened with additional skill sets. If you have an idea or if you are willing to partner with non-physicians or with other physicians who are interested in expanding their own skill sets, it’s totally doable. Physicians are lifelong learners. If you are a person with passion, who cares about improving health, there are plenty of areas that need work. You can do it.

What advice would you give to a physician who is starting our program?

People come into the program with lots of different goals. Whatever your goal is upon entering, don’t be rigid. Allow yourself to see what your classmates are doing and feel your way through the program. The connections you make as a part of the program with colleagues and faculty are invaluable.  In our class, people are starting to grow into and envision themselves as productive in different roles than their current ones. Don’t box yourself in. Go with an open attitude because you never know what could happen.


The Importance of Political Involvement and Understanding for Physicians this November: Insight from Dr. Stuart Altman and Dr. Michael Doonan

October 9th, 2018

This month, in preparation for the November mid-term elections, we checked in with the professors who teach health policy in the EMBA for Physicians program.

Dr. Stuart Altman, who teaches Issues in National Health Policy, is the Sol C. Chaikin Professor of National Health Policy at The Heller School. He is an economist who has five decades of federal and state health policy experience within government, the private sector, and academia. He currently chairs the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission, which was created in 2012 to monitor health care spending growth.

Dr. Michael Doonan, who teaches State Health Policy, is an assistant professor at the Heller School and the Program Director for the Master of Public Policy program. Before coming to Brandeis, he had roles in the Senate, the Clinton Administration’s Health Care Taskforce, and with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. He is currently the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Health Policy Forum and Director of the Council for Health Care Economics and Policy.

Below is their perspective on the importance of health policy for practicing physicians in light of the upcoming election and what physicians can expect to learn in their classes.

 


“For evil to succeed good people must simply do nothing.”

-Edmond Burke

Health policy is in danger of becoming less informed and effective if physician leaders do not engage. It will be more likely to endanger public health. Managers need to react to the political challenges and adapt organizational structures accordingly. Leaders influence and make change. Physician input is essential to create better systems that more effectively serve patients, organizations, communities, and the nation.

Perhaps there was a time when physicians could be more introspective and focus solely on the patient before them or the needs of a particular hospital. This is no longer the case. It is essential to understand how complex political policy change impacts access to care, reimbursement of care, and ultimately the quality of care.

The Issues in National Health Policy course provides a historical and contemporary examination of American health care systems programs and policies. This includes Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, historical efforts at reform, drivers of health care costs, and the history of payment and delivery systems. It helps answer the question of how we created the current system and the more difficult question of where are we heading.

The State Health Policy course examines state and intergovernmental relations. It looks at the range of state health care responsibilities including public health, Medicaid, licensure, insurance/health plan regulation, and more.  It provides specific tools for engaging with policymakers and directly influencing policy change. This includes interviewing a senior policymaker in your state, drafting op eds and letters to the editor, and writing and presenting legislative testimony on an issue of concern.

Taken together these courses open up the black box of the policy process. It is essential for physician leaders to not only manage change but to effect it and lead it. Today policy is being driven far too much by emotion, feeling, and partisan bickering. These need to be replaced by reason and the insight of people who both understand health care and who are committed to improving patient and population health and the efficiency of the overall health care system.


Learning more about Leadership and Organizational Behavior and Management of Healthcare Organizations: An Interview with Program Director Dr. Jon Chilingerian

September 24th, 2018

Dr. Jon Chilingerian, Ph.D. is the Program Director of the Executive MBA for Physicians (EMBA) program and the four-year dual MD-MBA degree with Tufts School of Medicine. He also teaches both Leadership and Organizational Behavior and Management of Healthcare Organizations for the EMBA program. In the below interview, Dr. Chilingerian weighs in on the importance of his courses for practicing physician-leaders, his passion for educating physicians, and the classroom experience.

How can an understanding of the topics covered in both Leadership and Organizational Behavior and Management of Health Care Organizations help physicians in their professional lives? 

We want clinical leaders to take note that job pressures, bosses, and toxic workplaces are a major source of stress.  Although the physical environment is a big concern, we should be even more concerned about the effect of work organizations and interactions on human beings and their health.  Recent studies show that 88% of people feel that they work for an organization in which no one cares about them.  Designing an organization and culture in which people care about each other, feel valued, and offer patients and customers outstanding value requires effective clinical leadership.  Healthcare needs leaders who understand how to get all of this done.  The job of a leader is to create great teams that do amazing work on time.  The Leadership & Organizational Behavior course gives you an opportunity to begin to develop your leadership skills through group work, reflection, case studies, and the literature on organizational behavior and leadership and helps you to apply this learning to your clinical role. The course is case-based with role-playing, simulations, and multi-media pedagogy.

The Management of Healthcare Organizations course has a similar focus. This course integrates the underlying and applied sciences of the core MBA curriculum.  Designed to illustrate the new blossoming science of medicine and management, the course requires applying health policy, strategic management, cost accounting, operations management, organizational behavior and leadership to manage and improve very complex healthcare organizations.  This course is case-based with multi-media pedagogy.

What stands out most to you about educating physicians? 

What I love about working with physicians is how quickly they are able to grasp complicated ideas and how quickly they are able to think about ways in which they can put them into practice.  We have tried to build a curriculum through working closely with physicians to bring material that will, in fact, give great benefit to clinical application.  Physicians are superb diagnosticians.  The fundamental start of any strategic thinking process is diagnosing what’s going on in the world around us.  Once physicians realize that what they do as clinicians is very similar to what leaders have to do – relentlessly examining the patient’s situation and considering what should be done to improve it – they catch on faster than most students.  They are among the most curious people as students I’ve ever encountered, and they have great energy which makes it easier to engage with them.  On a number of different dimensions, physicians are the best students you can have sitting in front of you.

What types of activities can a physician expect in a typical residency session class? Webinar session?

To maintain my standing as a professor, I must conduct new and original research on healthcare organizations and find ways to translate that research into classroom learnings. The pedagogy that we depend on requires active learning.  This means that we use case studies and simulations, role-playing, debates, and discussions in class to ensure everyone becomes an active participant and learner.

We don’t believe that learning happens unless you disturb the system a little bit.  Sometimes we put you in a situation where you might be a bit uncomfortable.  We think that makes for a much more dynamic learning environment.  To do that, we have to pick the right cases and think about the simulation and role-playing experiences that will give everyone an opportunity to work with concepts and tools, test them out, and put them into practice.  The ultimate learning takes place when we have a group of people who are all engaged and use the collective intelligence in the room to build on the ideas of others, listen, and reflect on the insights they get – then we all leave with a few more ideas than we started with.


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.


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