B-Schools Form Health Care Alliance

Posted by: Alison Damast on June 8, 2010

A group of leading business schools is capitalizing on students’ growing interest in careers in the health care sector by forming a new alliance that will focus on improving the quality of health care management programs. The new Business School Alliance for Healthcare Management was launched in late May by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, Northwestern’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management, University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, Harvard Business School and the University of California, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. Other alliance members include the Yale School of Management, Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management, Boston University School of Management, Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business and the University of Colorado Denver Business School.

The recent passage of the health-care reform bill, coupled with growing enrollment in health care management programs, spurred the schools to create a more formal organization to examine best practices, says Fuqua’s Health Sector Management Director Kevin Schulman. Fuqua has about 180 students in its health sector management program and about 150 in the executive education program, making up about 20% of the MBA class, he says.

“This is long overdue on the business school side,” says Schulman. “We’re all sitting here wondering whether or not our programs could be part of the solution to the health care problems we face as a country.”

So far the alliance has held just a few introductory meetings, but the group has ambitious plans, says Schulman. Members plan to organize a case competition for business school students in the alliance where they learn to use their management skills to address health care issues around a specific case. Another goal is to try to get hospitals to recruit directly from MBA programs, rather than hiring consultants to work on long-term projects, Schulman says. The alliance members also plan to conduct a peer review of each other’s programs, with faculty from five different schools traveling to alliance members’ campuses to critique and evaluate their programs.

The formation of the alliance comes at an opportune time; many schools are reporting increased enrollment in their health-care management programs and this year, health care was one of a small handful of industries generating a surge in recruiting on campus, according to a fall survey conducted by the MBA Career Services Council.

Readers, do you think this new alliance is a positive step forward for management education? What else would you like to see the members of the alliance do in this area?

Reader Comments

Nat Harward

June 9, 2010 10:36 PM

This is a great idea. Having investigated the graduate-level health admin/mgmt market, I found it hard to compare apples to apples. Trying to compare MHAs (health or hospital), MBAs in health mgmt, MPAs in health mgmt/admin, MPHs in mgmt/admin, etc. is an arduous task.

I believe this alliance will add needed consistency. The peer-review process will, we hope, improve quality across the board. And as a consequence of the schools coming together, perhaps they will cooperatively arrive at solutions to cover ObamaCare in their curricula. We need the brightest minds of business to plan to raise a generation of health leaders who can create better legislative improvements in the future.


June 10, 2010 12:57 AM

Surely, this seems like a step in the right direction. But apart from the peer reviews, how is the formation of this alliance going to help with the learning experience in class for the health care management students?

Barbara Bix

June 10, 2010 10:32 AM

Focus is always a good idea and the competition will help students sharpen their skills and get "real world" experience with the unintended consequences of our third-party payment system and the incentives it creates for each of the players.

As for peer review, I believe that's better used to ensure quality of processes internal to the industry (in this case educational techniques such as whether platform instruction beats the web and whether to use case studies versus lecture).

If the goal of the review is to improve the relevance of the instruction, it needs to be forward thinking. I believe it would be better to get prospective clients such as hospitals, HMOs, Pharmas, Employers, etc. to conduct the review.

The health care system's Achilles heel has always been its insularity (not invented here)and it's belief that it's too complex for outsiders to understand, and therefore offer value.

That's not a perspective you want to replicate in the education system. It's external review that generates new and creative thinking.


June 11, 2010 11:38 AM

Just the fact that business schools are finally getting into the healthcare management business rather than leaving it to schools of public health/medicine is a very positive step. As a graduate of a a top 5 MHA program and top 25 MBA program I can attest to the fact that the gap in quality of education is tremendous. Behind this alliance, it wouldn't surprise me if the MHA degree becomes a thing of the past.


June 21, 2010 4:55 AM

This is s positive step, would there be one for the pharmaceutical/biotech MBA

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