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I Got A GWSB MBA — Then I Became The Chief Medical Information Officer Of AT&T

Geeta Nayyar says business school helped her marry medical science with management

Geeta Nayyar is a leader in healthcare technology as well as a board-certified practicing physician. She has been named one of the “Top 26 smartest people in Health IT” by Becker’s Report and ranked one of the “Top 25 Minority Healthcare Executives” by Modern Healthcare.

Geetya holds an MBA from the George Washington University School of Business (GWSB) and an MD from University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine.

She currently serves as chief healthcare and innovation Officer at Femwell Group Health. She is also the host of Topline MD TV, Florida’s newest medical digital news channel.

Previously, Geetya was the chief medical information officer of AT&T, where she provided subject matter expertise, thought leadership and strategic direction for the company.

Q. What made you want to get an MBA?

I’m a medical doctor. There are a lot of health economics and business concepts that impact medicine. I knew nothing about business, but felt to make a true impact in the industry, I had to understand business. With the MBA, I have been able to effectively make an impact in medicine — not just at a practical level, but throughout my career in medical technology. All those MBA concepts are important to understand the cost drivers of healthcare.

Q. What did you think GWSB would give you that other business schools could not? 

I was doing my medical residency at George Washington University and had an amazing experience at the School of Medicine & Health Sciences. I went and spoke with the deans and professors of the School of Business, and felt like it was a good bridge from the medical side to management.

Q. Did your expectations match the reality?

It was fantastic. I learned a lot and I had so many professors who encouraged me. It was tough — I did my MBA while I was a Fellow; I was taking business school calls while working at a hospital. It was difficult and hectic to balance it all.

But in addition to the academic excellence, the breadth of experience and knowledge of the students, who had great carers at top firms like PwC and Deloitte, was great for building a good network and getting great exposure. So many times, I’ve tapped into that alumni network. When I was looking for a job, or career advice, there were so many people in healthcare technology or healthcare consulting who knew business better than I did, and I have leveraged that.

Q. What is the best lesson you learned at business school? 

I learned the difference between medical and business training, which is more creative and based on common sense, whereas medical training is more research-driven. The arts and sciences are very different.

Q. Why should other doctors get an MBA?

I would encourage other practitioners to get an MBA because, unfortunately, companies and insurers often try to dictate to physicians how to deliver medicine. An MBA will give them the freedom to deliver the best medicine they can while understanding the external forces affecting their industry.

Q. What do you love most about your job? 

Being able to marry business and medical concepts together. That’s what makes the experience valuable.

At AT&T, we would create products for healthcare providers and I was able to sit down with representatives from a hospital and understand their standpoints from both a business and a medical point of view. That makes you very credible. That’s very unique.

Q. What is the future of digital healthcare? 

The future of medicine is digital medicine. And the future is very bright. Everything will happen in virtual medicine, enabled by data analytics and predictive analytics. Just like every other industry, from retail to banking, the digital revolution has hit all of them, and healthcare is no exception. In the US, the consumer is becoming more of a decision maker and technology makes that possible. Consumers are becoming more savvy about their healthcare; people are asking questions about outcomes and transparency in a way that they haven’t done in the past.

Q. What’s the most interesting interview you’ve had on Topline MD TV and why?

Topline MD TV is an education channel created by our company. We get real physicians on the show, and try to make complex medical concepts easy for the consumer to understand; to make them more savvy about medicine. Most recently, we did so much on the Zika virus. There was so much bad and miss-information out there. It was great to be part of that dialogue, and make our consumers more informed about something that seemed scary at the time.

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