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Executive Education Center Creates "Business of Health Care"

1/16/2003 --

ANN ARBOR, MI - It isn't often that a billion-dollar organization can send 39 top leaders for executive development at the same time. The University of Michigan Health System's new Health Care Leadership Institute is doing just that. The hospital, medical school and health maintenance organization executives are using the 10-month 'business of health care' program to advance their skills in health care management and leadership in order to improve the way medicine is delivered at the U-M Health System.

The design, development and delivery of the program were directed by the Executive Education Center of the U-M Business School in collaboration with the U-M Medical School. According to Business Week, the Executive Education Center is ranked among the top two executive education programs in the world. The U-M School of Public Health is also a program contributor.

Because each participant at the Health Care Leadership Institute is part of the same organization, the Institute presents a unique opportunity to create a shared vision, vocabulary and understanding of the business of medicine at the U-M Health System. As each succeeding class graduates, the U-M Health System expects to see an overall improvement in the business management of health care, as well as the ability to deliver quality products and outcomes to consumers, payers and other business partners in this 15,400-employee organization.

"We have leaders from all parts of the organization - department chairs and their administrators, medical school deans, leaders in the hospital, M-CARE and faculty group practice - and we are learning together, discussing the concepts and their practical applications to the way we operate as an organization. The Institute allows us to cross barriers and sit together as a health system leadership team," says Allen S. Lichter, M.D., dean, U-M Medical School and Newman Family Professor of Radiation Oncology.

The innovative program is a multi-disciplinary learning experience and involves preparatory assignments, class sessions, and "action learning" projects, in which participants analyze and recommend solutions to current U-M Health System leadership or management issues. Participants learn and apply concepts and tools in the areas of strategy, financial management, change management, managerial leadership, marketing strategy and positioning, operations management, information and business process, research and development, innovation, negotiation and decision-making, and strategic human resource management. "Because academic medical centers have a three-part mission of clinical care, education and research, the business of managing health care in an academic setting is especially complex. Currently, there are few places in the country where executives from institutions such as ours can find a program geared to these unique needs. The Health Care Leadership Institute seeks to fill this gap," says Paul Taheri, M.D., M.B.A., assistant dean for academic business development in the Medical School.

The full-day class sessions take place one day a month for 10 months. Between sessions, participants divide into work groups to take on action learning projects.

"The action learning projects create an outstanding learning experience in which the participants apply the specific concepts and tools learned in the course to the current leadership/management issues/initiatives participants face in their roles as senior leaders," says Raymond Reilly, M.B.A., Ph.D., associate dean of executive education and professor of business administration at the U-Michigan Business School.

In the current Class of 2003, examples of the projects include:

  • Managing the Supply Chain: The Case of High-Cost Intermediate Products
  • Obstetrics/Gynecology: Short-Term Capacity versus Long-Term Planning
  • Blue Cross/Blue Shield: The Value Proposition
  • Clinical Simulation: The Impact on Education and Care

    "The world has gotten increasingly complex, and especially so in the health care business management. We've been fortunate at the U-M Health System to have a wealth of talented leaders in all areas of the organization. Collectively, it's part of their leadership style to embrace the opportunity to stay ahead of the curve in health care business knowledge," says Larry Warren, chief executive officer of U-M Hospitals & Health Centers.

    Essential to each project is the work group's cross-disciplinary composition, which creates a collaborative experience so that participants gain a clearer understanding of other disciplines and can build more effective relationships across these boundaries. Work groups will spend approximately six hours a month on the project, which culminates in an oral presentation and written report.

    "The multidisciplinary composition of both faculty and participants assures that the program will be both challenging and stimulating. Since the graduates of the Class of 2003 hold positions on our own campus, I am excited to see how the next several years unfold as they apply what they have learned at the Institute to the challenges of managing a health system as complex as University of Michigan Health System," says William Weissert, Ph.D., professor and chair, Health Management and Policy, School of Public Health.

    "In developing the Institute's curriculum, our colleagues from the other U-M schools recognize this isn't just an academic exercise in how to make a business better. If we can become more efficient and more capable, it will help every other industry with their health care costs and it will also help consumers get better value out of their health care expenditures," Lichter says. The Health Care Leadership Institute is a new, year-long skills development program for academic health care executives that has been designed in collaboration with the U-M Business School and School of Public Health. For the time being, it is open only to internal candidates. However, future plans for the Institute involve opening up the non-degreed program to health care executives from outside the U-M sphere.

    For more information, contact:
    Bernie DeGroat
    Phone: 734.647.1847 or 734.936.1015