MMI 404 - Health Care Enterprise Operations

Course Description:

This course examines the operations of the entire healthcare organization and its management, including the role of management and the Board of Directors, the physician organization, clinical practice and organization, nursing services, managing facilities and resources, personnel and staffing, finance, information technology, and marketing In each section the relevant information systems and services will be outlined and additional reading provided. During the course the students will place themselves into the role of a mid-level manager within a healthcare organization. While information technology is key component of the healthcare organization, in this course it will be discussed mostly from the additional readings in the discussion section.
Professor: Patricia Becker, MBA, FHIMMS
Term: Winter 2011
Grade: A
Text: The Well-Managed Healthcare Organization, by John R. Griffith and Kenneth R. White 6th ed., 2007 ISBN-13: 978-1-56793-258-4

Learning Objectives:

  • Acquire a working knowledge of the core operations of healthcare organizations
  • Equip students with the critical thinking skills required to analyze and improve hospital operations
  • Evaluate the roles of the management team and the Board of Directors
  • Develop an understanding of the role of information technology within hospital operations

What I Learned:

I found this class to be very interesting.  While the previous classes I had taken were heavily founded in the sciences, this one was more high level and in particular how healthcare organizations are ran. My only experience in healthcare to this point was in working on the payer side. I gained a fuller understanding of the interactions that take place across among private practices, healthcare organizations or institutions, pharmacies, clinics, payors, etc.

I gained skill for doing analysis on a company and its makeup and was given an opportunity through an individual assignment to research a healthcare organization.  For my research I chose Intermountain Healthcare (IHC) in Salt Lake City, Utah.  I chose them for a couple of reasons. The first is that they were close and a prominent player in Healthcare with repeated recognition by the media for the great things they are doing to transform healthcare delivery. This interested me as I considered where I might like to explore career opportunities once finished with my MMI degree. The second is that I had an opportunity at one venture during my career to work for them in a joint venture opportunity they were engaged in with GE Healthcare. I didn't know much about healthcare at the time but was very impressed with the prospect and had accepted their employment offer but due to economic conditions was not able to sell my home and relocate. As I trace back my initial interests in Medical Informatics it was here that it sparked. I would have been doing analytical database development for a group of clinicians and informaticists and had no idea at the time what informaticists were.  I researched and my interests grew from that point. I had introduced a friend, Chad Hodge as well to the idea and it also led to his starting the program with me at Northwestern. Diving deeper into my research I was more impressed by their volunteer based Board of Directors The organization was making huge strides in making improvements in quality and more accessible to its constituents. I was fascinated by their vertical integration which encompassed a delivery and payment system and wonder if their success was attributed to it. The organization was formed after the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints turned over its interests in hospitals which were owned by them and being member of this church, myself, I am impressed how IHC has remained true to the promise they made to them at that time and have always strived to remain a model not-for-profit healthcare system. I have an established respect for IHC and consider them a top prospect as I seek an opportunity within the Medical Informatics field. I later got to hear their CEO speak during a presentation at HIMSS in Las Vegas in 2012.

As we focused on group work in the class, we learned more about a new healthcare entity known as Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). In principle and structure they have very similar interests to HMOs of the 1980s and early 1990s. I liked the group project because it gave us an opportunity to deeply explore a current topic while also having groups look at it from the perspective of a Board of Directors. The group project was divided into three parts.

The first group project was done from the perspective of a community hospital where we provided a proposal on forming an ACO to be considered by the Board of Directors (the other team).    I participated in this project as the Community Hospital with Eric Abbott, Wade Astin and John Goss. The project included a thorough analysis or paper outlining the proposal as well as a presentation given to the board. Those acting as the Board of Directors also had to come back with a presentation representing their response to the proposal.  I enjoyed acting as a Board of Director member as it made me think outside of a perspective I've never had.

The second group project was a similar proposal to a Board of Directors where we recommended outsourcing Laboratory services to a third party. In the proposal we had to explore all operational aspects so that we could gain a better understanding and appreciate for the factors that are considered beyond our current views.  Like the first project, both a paper and presentation were required. The teams were changed so that we could work with different individuals and gain new perspective.  I worked with Wade Astin, Ed Flam, Kempton Presley and Mike Sleep.

The changing perspectives and different team assignments provided a unique challenge where students were polarized against each other. I learned a lot in doing this because students which I had aligned with before were against my views and it forced us to work together to come back together. In retrospect and after having talked with students in the class it was an interesting approach but taught us all lot about each other and how to represent topics we have invested passion for.

I learned so much from this class and being current topics that were hot at the time the class was taken, I was able to apply it at work and consult other leaders in my organization on what ACOs were about. It definitely added value to my perspective among my peers in the work place.

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