Jeff Rowe, Editor, Future Care

Jeff Rowe is the editor of Future Care and a veteran healthcare journalist and blogger who has reported extensively on initiatives to improve the healthcare system at the local, regional and national level.

To better manage cost of care, doctors adding MBA to their list of credentials

February 16, 2017 AT 10:21 PM

It’s not unusual for doctors to have expertise and the accompanying degrees in subjects like informatics, but an increasing number are also adding MBA to the letters following their names.

Part of the reason, reports Dan Gorenstein of Marketplace, is due to the rise of EHRs and value-based care, which increasingly require doctors to understand the myriad components in the cost of care.

In 2000, there were fewer than 30 joint MD/MBA programs, but today that number has more than doubled. According to Harvard Business School professor Rob Huckman, "There is a greater interest in thinking about topics like process improvement and how we increase working in teams together so they can solve problems faster.”

Huckman said healthcare looks more and more like manufacturing, which means a growing interest in the systems that deliver reliable, safer and, hopefully, cheaper care.

"We’re not talking about small changes in the marketplace," observed Dr. Kevin Schulman at Duke University. Schulman said."We’re talking about the importance of a pretty fundamental change in health care over the next five to 10 years.”

Schulman, who ran the MD/MBA program at Duke University for a dozen years, believes a business background can infuse physicians with a capacity to innovate, much like an entrepreneur.  Too many health care executives have failed to think strategically about how to transform their business, Schulman said, pointing to hospitals and physicians who made bad choices for EHRs.

"We ended up buying a technology that was very good at billing, but not very flexible to providing data to individuals about their care or helping them to become better shoppers in health care," Schulman said.