Specialized Healthcare Classes under the Business of Medicine MBA Program [Interview][Transcript]

Guest: Professor Anthony D. Cox

Presenter: Neal Howard

Guest Bio: Anthony D. Cox is a Professor of Marketing and Kelley Venture Fellow at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business in Indianapolis. He serves as the faculty chair for the Kelley School’s Business of Medicine Physician MBA Program. Cox received a bachelor’s degree in history and economics from Michigan State University and MBA and Ph.D. degrees in marketing from Indiana University.

Segment overview: In today’s segment, Anthony Cox, faculty chair for the Kelley Business of Medicine Physician MBA Program talks about the 21 month program designed to give physicians the business knowledge and skills they need to navigate through the changing world of healthcare. Learn more about them on their website: https://kelley.iupui.edu/programs/physician-mba


Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to the program. I’m your host Neal Howard here on this Health Supplier segment on Health Professional Radio. I’m glad that you could join us today. Our guest in studio is Anthony D. Cox. He’s a professor of Marketing and Kelley Venture Fellow at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business in Indianapolis, Indiana. He’s here today to talk with us about a very special program. A 21-month program that is designed to give doctors the business knowledge and skills that they need to navigate this ever changing world of health care. Welcome to Health Professional Radio, Professor Cox.

Anthony Cox: Thank you.

N: Thanks for joining us today. This program, is this something that is unique to the Kelly School and how long have you been involved in this type of program?

C: It’s close to being unique. In the entire United States, there are I believe only 3 or 4 physicians only, MBA programs. Ours, I think is unique just because of the depths of the program. It’s a full MBA program that spends 21 months that the physician’s been in the program. They come for face to face instruction one weekend a month in the Indianapolis. And then we have online instruction during the intervening weeks. It’s a very intense in-depth program.

N: As a consumer, just a regular guy, when I think of a physician, I’m thinking he’s been through school, he’s got his practice, he’s probably got many people working under him. When you’re talking about a program that is specifically designed to give physicians business knowledge, is this something that’s lacking in their normal medical school curriculum?

C: Yes, I think so. I think a lot of them perceived that to be something that needs to be remedied. I think that there is a gap in a lot of healthcare organizations between the people who have the clinical expertise and the people who make a lot of the management decisions. I think that to the detriment of those organizations, I think it’s best if you have leadership that understands that these are core businesses that you’re involved with. Physicians have that knowledge but often are not involved in management, such a senior management physicians within hospitals and health systems. Something I’ve heard about 5% of US hospitals and health systems have physicians and CEOs and that’s pretty unusual if you tell someone just about any other industry. For example, almost all law firms have attorneys and CEOs, almost all successful universities have the academics as presidents. One of the challenges is this gap is going to be bridged, is physicians tend to have sort of by necessity tunnel vision during their education, where they study by medical issues even starting from their undergraduate education. A lot of physicians I think who want to take more leadership role recognized that they need to round up their education by studying sort of the disciplines in business and management.

N: In your experience with this program and with dealing with many physicians they go through the program, are there aspects of this program that are designed to give this physician that the ability to take on those responsibilities without having to have a staff before that? For instance if a doctor has 40 patients to his practice, just thrown a number out there, where another doctor is involved with a group that has 20 physicians all of differing specialties, how specific can this program be based on the physician’s needs?

C: There are somewhat different issues that are faced by physician and practices of different size but there a lot commonalities too, I think. In terms of the physicians who have done through our program, they range from a sole practitioners though nationwide that’s the kind of declining group in terms of size, but we do have some sole practitioners all the way up to physicians who practice in fairly large group practices to physicians who are employed by multi-billion dollar health systems. There are some distinct of issues with those but there are some commonalities and all of those organizations regardless of size need to make decisions that are physically responsible. They need to deal with customer service issues, operational efficiency issues. They all have to deal with insurance companies. I think there is enough commonality of issues that the program can still be relevant to that range of different practice situations.

N: How does this program address the different needs on a business level, say, of a cardiologist as opposed to a general practitioner or maybe an oral-surgeon?

C: Right. We’re trying to be pretty broad. We’re not training. A lot of the physicians who are on the program are already in leadership positions or want to move into leadership positions that really cover a wide range of different medical specialist. We don’t try to have separate projects that are just relevant to cardiologist person or want to be surgeon person, the primary care physicians. We take a very big picture approach on. And this starts for the very first term in the program, they take accounting very much but very much tailored to health care. But the other class they take is a unique class. It’s called health care revenue and delivery models, which really looks at the big picture of kind of how all these components of health care put together. One of the real challenges, I think for the health care system in the United States is this sort of fragmentation where there are all these different pieces that don’t necessarily coordinate with each other. We try to take a sort of systems view of health care so that it’s relevant to all of them.

N: We were talking about the lack of business education during medical school. Is this program geared toward someone who’s wanting to get a business savvy right out of med school or right after their residency? Or is this something that is offered to seasoned physicians?

C: It’s more seasoned physicians. We require that all the physicians at a minimum have completed their residency program. Most of them are quite a few years out of their residency program. The average age of the physicians of the program is probably below 40s, that could give you some idea. So an average, they’ve been in practice for 10 or 20 years. There’s a range, we’ve had some physicians, we’ve had 1 or 2 who are still in fellowship programs all the way to some who are in their middle age 60s. But kind of a hardest distribution I would say, would be sort of mid 40s.

N: How does this program addressed certain things like, things that will affect a physician’s time, time is money, things like meaningful use of the computer or another merit based insurance payments? That sort of things that’s coming into more into plate now during this health care transition that we’ve been in for that last 6 years.

C: Well, there are number parts of the curriculum that addressed that. One of the sequence of course is probably most relevant that would be operations management. What we look at others both of a sort of core operations management class. What we look at issues of kind of efficiency of delivery, improving quality while also making operations more efficient. There also are some physicians that go beyond that and they take a sequence of courses and process improvement, what we call a Six Sigma and so that they learn how to make processes within their practice more efficient which is both beneficial to physicians into their practice but also beneficial to patients. As one of the problems with the healthcare system is patient wait time. Waiting to get in to get an appointment and waiting in the office even after you have an appointment. That’s a very important subset of the curriculum.

N: Where can our listeners go and get more information about this program? The second part of this question is as this is at Indiana University, do you see a branching out all over the state of Indiana and the university system?

C: Well it’s offered by the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University which I’m a faculty member. It’s the audience of physicians come from all over the country. We have physicians from California, from New York, from Florida and so forth. It’s truly a national program. I think currently they’re probably about 20 states represented in the program, since they just have to be there 1 weekend a month and then the rest is online. For more information probably, the best thing would be, if you just Google Kelley Physician MBA we have a great website that provides a lot of information, detailed information about the program.

N: Great. Thank you for coming in today, Professor.

C: Thank you. I really enjoyed it.

N: You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard on this Health Supplier segment. Talking with Professor Anthony Cox, he’s a professor of Marketing and Kelly Venture Fellow at Indiana University Kelley School of Business in Indianapolis, Indiana. He serves as the Faculty Chair for the Kelley School of Business Medicine Physician in MBA program, which is exactly what we’ve been in studio talking about this afternoon. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at healthprofessionalradio.com.au and also at hpr.fm. You can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, listen in and download at SoundCloud.

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