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Shifts in Global Healthcare Increase Intersection between Medicine and the MBA

Entrepreneurship, innovation and cost cutting are increasingly important amid shifts in global healthcare systems, presenting important opportunities for business schools offering healthcare-focused MBA programs, the Financial Times reports.

“The healthcare system is about much more than just treating patients,” Steve Chick, head of INSEAD’s Healthcare Management Initiative, told the FT. “The coordination of care is critical and that’s where business schools can play a big role.”

In Europe, debt-crippled governments find themselves confronted with ageing populations in need of increasing levels of care. In emerging markets, increasing incidences of cancer, diabetes and other diseases are compounding long-standing healthcare challenges like infectious diseases and infant mortality.

Meanwhile, in the United States, sweeping reforms under the Affordable Care Act stand to reshape the entire healthcare industry, creating giant networks in need of experienced business leaders. “There will be more positions within those systems that will attract MBA talent and for which their skills are relevant,” June Kinney, associate director for the MBA in Health Care Management at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, told the FT.

Wharton and INSEAD are among a growing number of top business schools recognizing the increasing need for MBA skills in the healthcare field and responding with relevant course offerings at either the MBA or executive MBA level. Other schools with specific healthcare-focused MBA offerings include Harvard Business School, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, which just launched a two-year Business of Medicine MBA for practicing physicians moving into leadership positions, the FT reports.

Through a non-profit consortium called the Business School Alliance for Health Management (BAHM), these and other schools are developing a teaching faculty network to address a shortfall in academics capable of teaching MBA programs to healthcare professionals. The organization also runs doctoral student webinars and has recently launched a new journal, Healthcare Management, Policy and Innovation, to publish research on how to improve management practices and public policy, the FT reports.

If business schools can figure out how to tailor what they teach MBAs to meet specific healthcare challenges, they could provide a vital pipeline of leaders capable of bringing much-needed innovation and business models to the sector as a whole.

“This is a huge opportunity for business schools,” Regina Herzlinger, an HBS professor focused on healthcare research, told the FT. “There’s a serious mismatch between what the people who are changing healthcare need and the kind of education that’s being provided.”

Read the complete Financial Times article, “Management Lessons Are Just What the Doctor Ordered.