Suite Of MBA Programs Inject Innovation Into Talent-Hungry Healthcare Sector

Dose of management flair needed for advent of digital health

A suite of new executive and MBA programs aimed at healthcare are set to inject a dose of management flair into the talent-hungry sector.

Harvard Business School and Johns Hopkins Carey Business School are among the latest top institutions to have launched courses for the medical manager.

As growing cost pressures and an ageing global population place strain on health systems there is a need for business leaders to lead the industry’s innovation.

“The complex challenges of today’s healthcare market require a new kind of leader,” said Das Narayandas, senior associate dean and chair of executive education at Harvard Business School.

The Boston based school launched three course offerings — Managing Health Care Delivery, Value Measurement for Health Care, and Business Innovations in Global Health Care — in which executives will explore new approaches for improving patient care.

“By examining approaches to running more efficient organizations, improving services, and enhancing the value of patient care, we’re helping to build the next generation of healthcare leader,” said Robert Huckman, Harvard professor of business administration.

Harvard’s launch came two days ahead of Johns Hopkins School’s announcement of a new MBA program in healthcare management at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington DC.

The program blends foundational business classes including negotiation, accounting and financial reporting with healthcare-specific courses, such as healthcare delivery, financing, and law.

“Healthcare is now the world’s largest industry and there is a growing need for qualified business professionals who can manage the complexities of the healthcare environment,” said Bernie Ferrari, dean of Johns Hopkins School.

Hot on the heels of Johns Hopkins was Georgia’s Terry College of Business, which broadened its full-time MBA to include a new concentration in healthcare management. The trio of US schools join a lengthening list of institutes promoting better healthcare management — among them the business schools at George Washington University, Rice University, and University of Michigan.

The feverish demand for healthcare executives is being boosted by the advent of digital health. The rise of digital technology coupled with creaking healthcare systems has seen companies scramble to hire from top business schools.

Johnson & Johnson for example increased campus recruitment by 20% last year, and has been a top employer of MBA students from IE Business School, SDA Bocconi, Rutgers Business School, and Cornell’s Johnson School. At MIP Politecnico di Milano, a top Italian school, Eli Lilly, Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline, Boehringer and Bayer are all recruiting students.

Kimberly MacPherson, associate director of health management at California’s Haas School of Business, said there has been a “digital health explosion”, with innovation in healthcare increasingly reliant on IT.

“Digital health has great potential,” she said. “But we need to see more solutions achieve scale and persistency to really drive meaningful change in the health outcomes for consumers, and on the cost front.”

Healthcare executives will need to hone digital skills around big data analytics, which has the potential to cut costs and increase efficiency.

“Analytics holds tremendous promise for both improving healthcare quality and reducing cost,” said Eric Johnson, dean of the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management, which recently hosted a healthcare conference focused on the importance and value of analytics to global health systems.

Professor Rainer Sibbel, academic director for the International Healthcare MBA at Frankfurt School, said: “The main issue in the distribution of these technologies is the question of what the business models will look like, and the reimbursement of investment.”

But, he added, “as the development of health related apps show, the need and demand is there”. 

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