Recently, we chatted with Dr. Michael Tang, an alumnus of the class of 2019, to learn more about his successful Executive Team Consulting Project (ETCP). Dr. Tang is a psychiatrist and pediatrician who works at Dimock Community Health Center in Boston. He worked with his organization to focus his ETCP on behavioral health integration through a management approach. He has received funding to expand this project to additional health centers throughout Massachusetts.
The ETCP is a capstone activity that supports each student as they launch, lead, and work with a team of their colleagues to complete a change initiative that impacts an aspect of their own work in healthcare. Keep reading to learn about the process of creating and implementing a successful project.
What was the subject of your ETCP?
My ETCP built upon existing work within my organization, Dimock Community Health Center. It highlighted the importance of a management approach to Behavioral Health Integration. For nearly ten years, Dimock has found that fully merging primary care medical and outpatient behavioral health clinics enable operational efficiencies and financial sustainability that directly lead to improved patient care. My ETCP sought to model this integration, including through a linear program, dashboard of metrics, and workflow changes to reduce wait times. The project further aimed to disseminate this model, contributing to a peer-review publication and a multi-year grant to create a Leadership Learning Network for C-suite leaders in ten Massachusetts Community Health Centers to learn about these management strategies.
This project is significant for our organization as it helped our health center share innovations with colleagues from across the Commonwealth. Integration is particularly important for the new Massachusetts Medicaid Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), and other value-based models that reward improved patient outcomes, population health, and provider satisfaction, and lower health care costs. We believe this Behavioral Health Integration approach helps providers better achieve this Quadruple Aim.
How did you decide on the topic?
It advanced the work I was already doing at my job on integrating primary care, behavioral health, and substance use disorder services.
Tell us about how you acquired support (financial support, leadership buy-in, etc.) within your institution.
There was great synergy between my ETCP and my job. The project advanced my thinking and generated content, which I could then take back to my job to build support from my leadership, assist my colleagues, and increase financial backing.
What was the process of forming your team like?
It went smoothly, since we were already a well aligned organization and the project helped move our team forward.
How is the project evolving now that you have graduated?
The ETCP continues to strengthen and expand even after graduation. We are continuing to strengthen our behavioral health integration within the health center, using skills and techniques developed in the ETCP. We were funded by Boston Children’s Hospital to spread our Behavioral Health Integration model to 10 additional health centers across the Commonwealth, disseminating these best practices.
How did the Brandeis EMBA for Physicians program help you along the way?
The Brandeis EMBA for Physicians program helped this project in all regards. Accounting helped me understand the finances and return on investment. Leadership helped me think about the strategy and change management. Operations helped design a linear program and manage wait lists. The Health Care Entrepreneurship class shaped this start-up project. Relational Coordination helped me understand team dynamics. Marketing helped think about messaging and population segmentation. Systems Thinking introduced a clear approach to problem solving. Each class added a new element that the ETCP pulled together.
The program overall helped me become a better manager and leader.