The Dean of the School of Management, Cathy Minehan moderated a panel of four prominent health care leaders; Charlie Baker, Entrepreneur in Residence, General Catalyst Partners; Carey Goldberg, Co-Host, CommonHealth Blog and On-Air Reporter, WBUR; John Polanowicz, Secretary, Executive Office of Health and Human Services, Commonwealth of Massachusetts; and Peter Slavin, MD. President of Massachusetts General Hospital.
The panelists' lively conversation focused on the increasing cost of health services and quality in health care delivery. Carey Goldberg offered a journalist's lens on general public opinion. "In terms of costs, 'they' don't care... when we do posts [on WBUR], we don't get a lot of clicks, we get a lot of yawns." The abstract costs of health care are peripheral to the average consumer, "Until it's your money, you're not going to care," she said.
Though government spending may be abstract to citizens, Charlie Baker indicated that citizens should be concerned about the rising costs of health care, especially health care spending in the government. In the 1960s, federal spending was primarily focused on items such as job training, clean water, roadways, railways, etc. However, Baker pointed out that more recently government spending on Medicare and Medicaid is on the rise, while spending on our traditional infrastructure is on the decline. "These costs have profound implications for everyone as citizens... and until we fix this, we can't fix [our infrastructure]."
The panelists acknowledged the Boston area's reputation for delivering high quality care, but stated that that reputation alone will not be sufficient in a time of cost pressures. "Unfortunately, the way that we measure quality in health care is pretty primitive... I would encourage the students here to focus... on coming up with better measures of capturing the essence of what high quality care is all about," noted Peter Slavin.
The dialogue concluded with Q&A from attendees and current students from the newly launched Health Care MBA, who pressed the panelists for possible solutions to health care industry issues of cost and quality. The event illustrated some of the many challenges facing leaders in today's competitive health care marketplace. Catherine Robbins, Professor and Program Chair noted that the Health Care MBA, with its heavy emphasis on health care specific courses and strong business core was designed with those challenges in mind. Click here for more information on the new Simmons Health Care MBA.