This post is authored by Nitya Venkat, 2021 Value-Based Health Care Summer Research intern at Dell Medical School.
Michael Porter defines “value” in health care as the outcomes that matter to patients divided by the costs required to achieve those outcomes. I spent a lot of my early career and higher education thinking about the concept of value for myself, for my future patients and for my colleagues in health care. After graduating from college, I spent approximately 18 months working as a consulting analyst to some of the nation’s federal agencies, health plans and hospital systems. Maximizing value took on several different meanings for these stakeholders, but one thing remained true: Maximal value was never achieved; rather, it was an ongoing goal that drove innovation in strategy, operations and medicine. I entered medical school with a strong curiosity to define value for myself: How was I going to deliver value to each patient I touched? How was I going to participate and enable a health care system to create value at scale? How was I going to derive personal and professional value from the mentors and community I formed?
During my first year of medical school, I found the Value-Based Health Care Summer Research Internship at Dell Medical School somewhat by chance, and as quickly as I found it, I became deeply committed to pursuing it. Through interviews and conversations with thoughtful and curious academicians and clinicians such as Lauren Uhler, MPH, Prakash “PJ” Jayakumar, M.D., Ph.D., and Kevin Bozic, M.D., MBA, I solidified my interest in this program as the next step in my career exploration and personal investigation of value.
In reflecting on my 10 weeks at Dell Med and the Musculoskeletal Institute at UT Health Austin, I am overcome with gratitude and inspiration at how such a short time with such remarkable mentors could so powerfully shape my future career, outlook on care model design and approach to patient-centered care. Through formal meetings and casual conversations with my mentors and co-fellow Eugenia Lin, I grew my confidence in pursuing orthopaedics and health system leadership as potential career paths.
By observing and participating in the unique integrated practice unit model at the MSK institute, I learned to conceptualize value in patient care as meeting the patient where they are, using a holistic lens to understand and address their lived experiences of illness, social needs and behavioral health challenges.
Finally, and perhaps most profoundly, this internship augmented my skills and exposure to research, academic writing and innovation-thinking in care delivery. I was granted the opportunity to explore topics that mattered to me, and when I proposed to write about a new model for supporting early career women in orthopaedics, I was met with unanimous support and constructive advice. Through thought-provoking discussions with PJ that left me with more questions than answers, I continued to redefine my understanding of what matters to me, my patients and my colleagues. As my internship comes to a close, I feel encouraged to use this growth experience as a launchpad for my future personal and professional endeavors. I know that each season of medical training will further color my perspective of value, but with the tools and minds I have been exposed to at Dell Med, I am confident I can chart a course that’s meaningful for me.