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Learning the Business of Medicine Through Interprofessional Health Care Education

Jan. 15, 2020

Providers from Dell Medical School and The University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business are collaborating to provide Business of Healthcare Certificate students a firsthand health care experience. The students are from various undergraduate majors at UT Austin, with the highest enrollment being pre-med, business, nursing and social work students.

Kristie Loescher, DBA, the director of curriculum and community engagement for the McCombs Healthcare Innovation Initiative, said the goal of the course is “to focus on the systematic planning, design, operation and improvement of the processes that deliver services and provide goods in order to control costs, improve the patient experience and ensure safety.”

When I was first asked to facilitate the collaboration and be a “client” for the students, I was hesitant. I had precepted advanced practice provider students (PAs and NPs) for years, but how was I going to teach the business of medicine?

Five semesters later, we have developed an evolving curriculum with the learners’ input. The goal is to create an experience that would give them an in vivo view of health care through the eyes of frontline team members, apply that experience to business and understand how your interventions affect systems of care, the team and the patient.

The students shadow a resident teaching team during patient rounds as well as round with a bedside nurse during their shift. They attend large group meetings regarding length of stay, discharge planning and throughput. They attend a daily huddle brief with several care team members pertaining to care coordination. They also have “coffee with a leader” where they meet with hospital administration leadership and ask three questions about change management.

Didactics include reviewing relevant articles, large group discussions with me and learning quality improvement tools and Lean methodology. They are responsible for an end-of-semester presentation and a detailed report for Loescher.

“I believe the strength of this course was in highlighting the efficiency and operational issues that are given less attention but have the potential to hamper productivity in major ways,” Shahrez Anjum, a former student of the rotation, said. “Learning about quality and process improvement was vital not only to the hospital setting but as a general rule for operational efficiency. Directly observing several key processes such as the huddle meetings and rounds led to a significant amount of practical application and applied learning that enhances the educational experience.”

In the ever-changing health care industry, we all must understand the business of health care. Working with these students has been an incredible experience, and I hope to continue to improve their learning as they have done with mine.