A Week in DC: Uniting Policy and Business through HSM

Sravya Durbha, Candidate for MBA, Class of 2020

As someone whose eyes light up at the mere mention of health policy, I was excited to take the Management of Health System and Policy (“Week in DC”) course for a few reasons. Firstly, it was an integral portion of my role as a Margolis Scholar through the Margolis Center for Health Policy, and I looked forward to getting to know my fellow Scholars (students studying law, medicine, policy, etc.) a bit better as classmates. More importantly, I acknowledged that I had started my MBA a year ago as someone who believed wholeheartedly in the power of policy to transform healthcare. With one year at Fuqua under my belt, I was excited to travel to DC with a newfound energy to discuss ways to integrate policy and business achieve the same goal.

Sravya and Classmates in Washington, DC, January 2020

The first part of the course involved meeting with health policy and business leaders in Durham – a place that is widely considered a hotspot for health transformation activity. We had the opportunity to hear from visionaries like Annette DuBard, VP of Clinical Strategy at Aledade, Inc., Aaron McKethan, Senior Policy Fellow at the Margolis Center, and Jessica Martinez from the Gates Foundation. Our guest speakers all echoed a similar sentiment: issues as different as innovative care delivery models, policy-driven entrepreneurship, and neglected disease research and development all go hand in hand with optimally designed health policies.

Armed with new perspectives from our guest speakers in Durham, Professor David Ridley, and my classmates, I was ready to put my new knowledge into context by visiting our nation’s capital—where some of the most important health policy issues of our time are brought to life by business executives, policy experts, and members of the government.

Sravya and classmates meet with Senate staffers to learn about health policy

On day 1, we welcomed guests like Dan Diamond of POLITICO and Richard Hughes at Avalere Health, who respectively articulated the impact of journalism in influencing health policy and the regulatory hurdles that hinder the development of vaccines.

On day 2, we made our way to Capitol Hill, where we had a chance to hear from Angela Wiles from US Senator Richard Burr (R-NC)’s office and Rita Livadas from US Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO)’s office. Together they shared their views on bipartisan health policymaking and how the senators they represent – each of whom has vastly different political views – work together to change the face of healthcare in the United States.

We continued this discourse on day 3 by speaking with policy consultants from Deloitte and Capitol Hill Consulting Group, as well as members of the Council for Economic Advisers in the Eisenhower Executive Building.

Sravya, Professor Ridley, and classmates at UnitedHealth Group Innovation Center

On day 4, we brought our week full circle by hearing from UnitedHealth Group—an organization that brings together health policy, business strategy, and data and technology to promote innovative solutions for all healthcare stakeholders.

The Week in DC course surpassed my expectations. Going forward in my post-MBA career and beyond, I am confident that I can rely on the bright minds of my former classmates and my own passion for health policy to create public-private partnerships, employ policy and business strategies, and innovate effectively to transform healthcare as we know it.