The Business of Healthcare

Dr. Bryan Watkins

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

During the Internet Boom of the late 1990’s, Dr. Lowell Weil, Jr. was working for his father’s podiatry practice, Weil Foot & Ankle Institute. From time to time Dr. Weil attended cocktail parties with some of his friends who were running internet-based businesses. It was at those parties that he first noticed the learning gap between the world of medicine and business.

“I’d go to these cocktails parties and everyone was talking about business, and I realized I didn’t know what they were talking about, Dr. Weil said. “I had never taken a single economics or accounting class in college.”

lowell-weil-jr

Dr. Lowell Weil, Jr., 2001 LFGSM Graduate

Dr. Weil decided to go to business school, so he enrolled in LFGSM’s MBA program because the program worked with his schedule, allowing him to continue to see patients and to perform surgeries.

“LFGSM was an awesome experience,” said Dr. Weil. “I could execute change with what I was learning in class and apply it to my actual business. I’d look at the business–finance, marketing, accounting—and it forced me to learn about medicine as a business.”

 

A Similar Story

Dr. Jesse Marymont, Lake Forest Graduate School of Management’s 2012 Valedictorian, felt many of the same challenges that Dr. Weil faced when having to deal with business related matter.

“I had no appreciation of economics, marketing or organizational behavior,” Dr. Marymont said. “I had to be proactive in order to avoid becoming a dinosaur in a changing world.”

Going back to school was quite a detour from Dr. Marymont’s almost 20-year career as an anesthesiologist, but it led him to LFGSM’s executive MBA program where he advanced his career and broadened his skills in communication and leadership, while maintaining a focus on the healthcare industry.

With the growing complexities of the healthcare, many doctors like Dr. Weil and Dr. Marymont are searching for a fresh perspective on how to manage and adapt with the changing times. The answer for many of these MDs is an MBA and the business knowledge and leadership skills that come with it.

 

A Popular Trend

There are a number of macro-level dynamics that are eroding the bottom lines of medical groups, individual practitioners, and hospitals,  making it difficult and/or less attractive – both financially and clinically – to perform in the healthcare industry.  The challenges these groups and individuals face include a smaller market – fewer doctors to aid the growing Baby Boomer population, increasingly complex insurance laws, keeping up with the constant technological advancements, and operating costs continuing to outpace revenue.

Since many of the above challenges are often times not medical, but rather business related, an MBA gives doctors the added skills needed to succeed in business management– whether it be running a small physician’s practice or operating the day-to-day activities of a large hospital group.

Universities seem to be catching onto this trend. Since 1993, the number of joint MD-MBA programs in the U.S. has risen from 6 to 65. Between 2011 and 2012, the number grew by 25 percent – in just one year!

 

Growing Healthcare with Business

Dr. Weil is now the President and CEO of Weil Foot & Ankle Institute. He took a small family practice and turned it into one of the biggest podiatry practices in the country, where he spends his days fully immersed in the day-to-day activities of marketing, billing, HR, and finance.

“I gained knowledge I never had and fell in love with business,” Dr. Weil said.

Dr. Weil shows the difference that can be made when doctors have a good business head and are able to problem solve and collaborate–whether these skills are gained through an advanced MBA degree or not.

 

New Careers on the Business Side of Healthcare

While Dr. Weil used his MBA to run and grow his family’s podiatry business, many individuals want to use their MD degrees to launch a new career trajectory, away from direct patient care and into management and leadership roles–whether it’s running a healthcare startup, managing a physician’s practice, or presiding over a network of hospitals.

Dr. Marymont is now the Chief Compliance Officer for North Shore University Health System in Glenview where he leads a team of almost 150 individuals–including medical practitioners, anesthesiologists, and nurses.

LFGSM 2012 Valedictorian Dr. Jesse Marymont

Dr. Jesse Marymont, 2012 LFGSM Valedictorian

“Education brings opportunity,” said Dr. Marymont. “I’m using my LFGSM classes to look at what I do in a different light, in a broader sense. By adding a business perspective, I can better see my work from society’s point of view – from the point of view of the purchaser and the consumer of healthcare. Broadening my education will give me options and a future that I would not otherwise have had.”

Dr. Marymont’s views on opportunity align with other MDs who want to evolve with the changing times – to keep up with the myriad of new healthcare technologies, advancements in cures for diseases, and much more.

The ability for MDs to excel not only in the operating room but also from a business perspective has found them needing an MBA. From the analysis of data and how it can be applied to medical approaches and cures, to business strategies and new payments models, MDs are seeing that the “business of healthcare” is very much like the business of a corporation.

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Bryan J. Watkins, Ed.D.Dr. Bryan J. Watkins, Ed.D. is Chief Academic Officer and Vice President at Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. Bryan has a breadth and depth of experience in multiple higher education institutions that includes direct responsibility for accreditation, faculty relations, and program and curriculum design and development, as well as virtual, hybrid, and face-to-face program delivery, admissions, marketing, and sales. He is a member of the School’s Leadership Team. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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