Thursday, September 23, 2010

Healthcare Lecture Focuses on Industry Reform

Healthcare in the United States is undergoing monumental changes and the industry needs bright minds to meet the challenges. That was the message to the students and faculty attending the first Wake Forest University Schools of Business Healthcare Lecture Series presentation of the 2010-11 academic year.

The Healthcare Club hosted Larry Hughes, Member-in-Charge of the Healthcare Services Group for Dixon Hughes, the largest CPA firm in the Southern U.S., who spoke about healthcare reform legislation and its implications to labor and supply chain management. Trent Messick, a Dixon Hughes member who specializes in healthcare consulting, joined Hughes in an interactive discussion with students.

Hughes described the current healthcare system, comprising 16% of our nation’s gross domestic product, as “one of the most dysfunctional businesses that you will ever have experience with.” He went on to explain how four different parties are involved in the current healthcare economic model. “The guy buying the service is not the guy writing the check. And the guy providing the infrastructure is not the guy who controls the care. You need to connect these dots to have a successful business model.”

(Keep reading after video.)

Do not expect the thousands of pages of healthcare legislation to connect those dots either, said Hughes. “We are totally shuffling the deck. Here is a very convoluted, complicated system, and we just made it tougher.”

But with the challenges come many career opportunities for business students. Healthcare organizations are looking for people and products to improve value while eliminating errors. “We see opportunity and need galore for people who are smart enough to figure it out. In fact, we have job applications on the table, Hughes proclaimed.

Right now, professionals at Dixon Hughes are spending countless hours going over healthcare legislation to find new ways to assist clients, according to Messick. While he expects much of the original legislation to change, “the key is to be out in front, not in somebody’s dust and we believe that in our firm that we are creating some products that people are not yet thinking about,” he said.

Students considering healthcare careers seized the opportunity to ask tough questions to the guest speakers. Ronald Williamson (MBA ’12) wanted Hughes and Messick to describe their vision for a more effective economic model for healthcare.

Susan Redmond (MBA ’12) inquired about the future management of a “bundled payment” to the various providers who serve a patient. Redmond, a student in the Winston-Salem evening MBA program, spends her days as Associate Director of Inpatient Physical/Occupational Therapy at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. “Healthcare is my passion and purpose in life,” she said. “As a leader already in the field, the more information I can get from various experts will help me be more effective in my job and with leading my group.”

Len Preslar, Executive Director of Health Management Programs at Wake Forest University Schools of Business thanked the guest speakers from Dixon Hughes. He worked closely with the firm during his years as CEO of North Carolina Baptist Hospital. In his closing message he emphasized, “We are going to be transforming healthcare from within. That’s where the opportunities are for young leaders to be innovative in health care.”

Dean Cikens of GE Healthcare is the next guest speaker in the Healthcare Lecture Series. His presentation will take place Thurs., Nov. 4 at 4 pm in the Worrell Professional Center, Room 3209.

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