Medics Use Business School To Launch Start-Up Consultancy

Doctors are using a business school to run a consultancy – part of a wider trend of blending medical and business practices and learning.

Doctors make for unlikely business school students. A cadre of healthcare professionals, however, are using a Master’s program to run a specialist consultancy.

Many of the first graduates of this program have switch from medical science to business science, or are combining the two. Newly found business acumen has allowed these graduates to successfully run a start-up consultancy.

In the process of doing so, they are also highlighting two recent business school trends: bringing medical techniques into the business classroom, and student-led consultancy firms.

Run jointly by the Tuck School of Business and The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice, the Master in Health Care Delivery Science (MHCDS) was launched in January 2013.

Its students meet at Dartmouth, in New Hampshire, four times during the 18 month, part-time program. Students include pharmaceuticals executives as well as doctors and nurses.

It blends distance learning and bricks-and-mortar study – with six weeks of face-to-face teaching – meaning that many participants can maintain full-time jobs.

One such student is Dr Carolyn Kerrigan, a professor of surgery the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice (TDI). She splits her time between teaching, and leading the implementation of electronic medical records and patient-reported outcomes at the Dartmouth–Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC).

“As we look at the healthcare crisis, we’re more frequently hearing the word ‘value’ as describing what we’re trying to create,” said Carolyn. One of DHMC’s goals is to figure out which reforms create a money-saving and high-quality result.

However, she explained that patient complications often equal increased hospital revenue. “You send another bill and get paid more,” she said. “That’s definitely part of what we’ll be wrestling with in the program.”

Of the US-based program’s 45 students, 30 are actively involved in the independent consultancy that they launched, which provides clinical expertise.

The start-up already has a number of clients including a financial services company.

It is not just the merging of medical and business practices that is making its way into business schools. By running a start-up business consultancy from an MBA or master’s program, students can develop industry-standard skills, and earn extra income on the side.

One successful firm, although not a medical practice, is Impact Consulting Group, which is run by Rotman School of Management in Toronto, Canada.

Set up about 40 years ago by MBA students, the consulting team provide clients with market research, market entry and growth strategies. Clients include the Royal Bank of Canada and Visa, the financial services corporation.

Scott Rutherford, chair of Impact's board of advisors, said that the team of MBA students can compete with the big consulting firms.

The firm plans to incorporate business design practices this year, said Shelly-Ann, a partner at the firm. She added: “Design thinking is going to give us a competitive advantage when it comes to business consulting.” 

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