Feature of the Week

August 26, 2014 12:19 pm

Doctors use business acumen to launch medical consultancy

Argenti strategic mgmt. caption: Professor Paul Argenti teaches strategic management of health care organizations to the MHCDS class of 2015. Photo by Rob Strong©Rob Strong

As a palliative care physician in Oklahoma, Jeffrey Alderman might not seem like the obvious business school student. Indeed, when he thought about going back to study, business school was not top of his list at all.

“I was just looking for a programme that could help me leverage healthcare change,” he says. “I was just concerned that it [the programme] would give me the tools I needed.”

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What Dr Alderman was looking for was a programme that would help give better value to his patients, he says, delivering higher quality care that would be more satisfying to patients and their families and at lower cost. “A number of us realised we were working in a healthcare system that wasn’t addressing the health needs of our patients and it wasn’t working for doctors.”

The programme he selected was run jointly by the Tuck school of business at Dartmouth College and The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice. Indeed, Dr Alderman was one of the first 45 participants to graduate from the Master in Health Care Delivery Science (MHCDS) in January 2013.

Participants on MHCDS meet at Dartmouth four times during the 18 months of the part-time programme, with six weeks face-to-face teaching and a heavy online workload between the campus modules.

In the Class of 2013, the quality of the participants was one of the elements that impressed Dr Alderman most. “I was working with people who were just so bright. I felt a little intimidated,” he recalls. “We talked late into the night about how to change the healthcare world.”

He and his peers were so enthused by the skills and knowledge they learnt on their programme, and the interaction between the participants, that they have gone on to establish an independent consultancy practice, in which Dr Alderman is lead principle.

Of the 45 programme participants - which included pharmaceuticals and insurance executives as well as practitioners, such as doctors and nurses - 30 are actively involved in the consultancy, contributing clinical expertise when needed. Dr Alderman is hoping to extend the network, and in January this year he spoke to the graduating class of 2014 to persuade some of them to join the start-up.

The consultancy has already signed up a number of clients, included a bank and an educational institution. Dr Alderman is now working at the consultancy part-time, but hopes that his role will expand. “My hope is that I will enter this full-time, I enjoy this so much.”

“I didn’t expect to lead others,” he admits. “These were skills I didn’t know I had until I went to Dartmouth.”

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