Week in DC: One of the best memories I have at Fuqua

Ashley HumiennySimultaneously, one of the best and worst aspects of being a student of health care is how immense and complex the sector is. When my classmates and I first took a glance at the “Week in DC” agenda – packed from top to bottom with speakers of wildly different viewpoints and backgrounds – we knew that this would be a rare, close-up exposure to the many elaborate (and sometimes opposing!) forces that shape the industry.

Thus, there was no better expert to introduce the week than Dan Mendelson, CEO & Founder of Avalere Health, one of the most cutting edge health care advisory firms. Dan also led Fuqua’s Health Sector Management “Bootcamp” last summer, an intense weeklong course that introduces Fuqua First Years to the many players and disciplines within the field – pharmaceuticals, delivery, devices, policy, and so on. He teed up our “Week in DC” series just as skillfully as he managed “Bootcamp”, immediately drawing out the pivotal theme of the US government’s growing role in health care.

The public sector now funds over 40% of our nation’s healthcare expenditures, accelerated by the recent Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. the ACA or Obamacare). While it’s clear that the government’s financial and regulatory movements will significantly affect our nation’s ability to improve health outcomes and control spiraling costs, Dan also brought up the public sector’s often overlooked role as a change leader. Given their size and coverage, Medicare and Medicaid will continue to set the tone for payment and delivery reform, as well as technology standards. Medicare’s Shared Savings program, for example, is meant to set some precedent for providers to enter into quality-based contracts while attempting to push them to better coordinate care for all populations.

We also heard from Dan Diamond, Managing Editor of The Advisory Board’s Daily Briefing, a newsletter cited as “invaluable” by the country’s health care leaders. Together we walked through the recent health spend slowdown phenomenon that the country was experiencing, discussing several theories and adding some color to their feasibility.  If interested in the subject, I highly recommend Dan’s article from July of last year on the paradox of health care job growth and decreasing spend rates.

Starting out with two of the most influential “Dan’s” of the D.C. health world was a perfect way to commence one of the best memories I have at Fuqua thus far. By delving deeper into the different layers of accountability and interdependency in health care, we were able to better understand the various policy and business issues that we learned about throughout the week. A big thanks to the Fuqua HSM staff and Professor Taylor for putting together such an amazing “Week in DC” lineup!