INDIANAPOLIS --- For the fifth consecutive year, a 2018 Gallup poll shows that Americans worry more about health care than any other issue. That's why the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University has been training physicians nationwide to assume leadership roles -- so they can address health care availability and affordability.
The Kelley School launched the Business of Medicine Physician MBA Program in 2013, and its graduates are making a difference in health care systems across the country as they reduce patient wait times and the cost of care -- all while improving access to care, quality of care and patient outcomes.
"Health care in the United States needs to be more efficient, but not at the expense of patient quality," said Idalene "Idie" Kesner, dean of the Kelley School of Business and the Frank P. Popoff Chair of Strategic Management. "That means physicians need to be the voice of improvement, and the best way to leverage that voice is for MBA-trained physicians to assume leadership roles.
"Kelley Physician MBA graduates leave our program better doctors because they think differently about the industry. They are visionary leaders who are optimistic about the future of health care because they have the tools to make change happen."
The Kelley Physician MBA Program is unlike any other traditional or executive MBA program; it is designed exclusively for physicians. To build this unique curriculum, Kelley faculty specializing in the business of medicine consulted with industry experts and thought leaders to identify critical principles physicians need to direct the future of health care. The curriculum delivers carefully sequenced content, combining core integrated business knowledge with specialized, contemporary health care courses.
Among the courses is Lean Six Sigma, a process-improvement methodology aimed at reducing defects and waste. Additionally, physicians learn ways to advocate for hundreds of patients at once during an immersion course studying health care policy and regulation in Washington, D.C.
Participating physicians say they pursued an MBA so they could learn to speak the "business of medicine," explaining that while they possess profound medical knowledge, many don't have the business acumen needed to be an influential voice in the C-suite.
"You can make unbelievable differences with fairly small changes," said Dr. Tom Gardner, a urologist at the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center who graduated from the program in 2017, about the immediate impact of using his MBA skill set. Gardner discovered that a routine procedure was taking up to 100 minutes of a patient's day, from the moment the patient walked in the door to the moment he left. Using Lean Six Sigma techniques learned in the Kelley Physician MBA Program, Gardner reduced patient wait times to an average of 29 minutes -- increasing health care accessibility while maintaining quality of care.
"I knew it was possible; I just needed the tools and knowledge to do it," Gardner said. "The Business of Medicine Physician MBA Program helped me to better understand processes, finance and leadership, which are all imperative to providing better service for our patients."
Designed to meet the demands of a physician's schedule, the 21-month program is delivered through monthly weekend residency sessions in Indianapolis as well as on-demand, asynchronous online learning. This approach allows students to network with physicians across specialties and from a variety of locations and health systems.
In its first five years, the program has graduated 146 physician MBAs representing 76 specialties from 26 states. While the average age of graduates is 50, the oldest is 72 and the youngest 32.
"The Business of Medicine Physician MBA Program changed the way I think about health care and the way I approach my work on a daily basis," said Dr. Cameual Wright, a member of the program's 2016 class who transitioned from an OB-GYN practice to leading clinical strategy at a managed care company. "From day one, I learned things at Kelley that I was able to bring back to my practice. I find myself to be more confident, more assertive and better able to lead. I feel like I now have the tools to truly make a difference, and I have."
"The Kelley Physician MBA gave me a skill set beyond simply functioning as a physician. I now understand how to optimize the business of medicine," said Dr. Rocky Singh, who received his MBA in 2015. "When you present yourself as a leader in health care, people expect you to possess management skills. If you're a good leader, you motivate people while also holding them accountable. I've learned these skills and more through the Kelley School of Business."
The program gives physicians the advanced business knowledge, management tools and leadership skills to be health care change agents while driving innovation and transforming their careers. In fact, one-third of Kelley Physician MBA students are promoted within the first year of the program.
Dr. Cheryl Wolfe is an OB-GYN in Chicago who graduated from the Physician MBA Program in 2017. During her studies, she was approached by Rush University Medical Center to merge her private practice into the Rush system, where she is now the vice chair and director of ambulatory services for the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
When Dr. Ryan Nagy began the Kelley Physician MBA Program, he was a practicing anesthesiologist. Within months of starting the MBA program in 2013, he was appointed chief of anesthesiology at IU Health - University Hospital and subsequently chief medical officer. Today, Nagy is president of IU Health Medical Center, where he is responsible for determining the strategic vision and priorities for IU Health Methodist and University hospitals.
Dr. Praveen Rajanahalli, who received his MBA in 2016, started his own concierge practice after he received his MBA to enhance patient treatment options and experience while simultaneously alleviating physician burnout.
About the Kelley School of Business
The Indiana University Kelley School of Business has been a leader in American business education for nearly 100 years. With more than 110,000 living alumni and an enrollment exceeding 11,000 students across two campuses and online, the Kelley School is among the premier business schools in the country. The Kelley School at IUPUI is home to a full-time undergraduate program and four graduate programs, including master's programs in accounting and taxation; the Business of Medicine Physician MBA; and the Evening MBA, which is ranked 13th in the country by U.S. News & World Report.