Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Student Perspective on the Health Care Business Alliance Conference

Joel Pettigrew is a 2nd year MBA student who attended the Vanderbilt Healthcare Conference last year. This year's conference takes place on October 28, 2011. Here are some of his thoughts on last year's conference:

Last October, Terry students joined 250 academics and professionals from across the country for the Health Care Business Alliance conference in Nashville, Tennessee. The topic of discussion for the day was the changing face of the Health Care industry; a growing area of interest amongst Terry students.

The Health Care Industry spurred so much interest that the class of 2012 decided it was time to form a Health Care Club. With this participation at the HCBA conference, Terry has added to its presence in the Health Care industry, already represented in part by partnering with Mercy Health Center in Athens, Health Care facility tours across the Southeast, and with current recruiting partners such as Unum and Kaiser.

The HCBA conference was an excellent opportunity to hear from experts in various parts of the Health Care industry. The “Mayor” of DaVita’s employee village, CEO Kent Thiry, or KT, opened the conference with a highly motivational speech about valuing community as a company. His address was punctuated by video clips of DaVita’s awards ceremonies, filled with shots of grateful employees from senior management to their front-line employees. Although KT has been able to transform DaVita from a company on the edge of bankruptcy and facing several lawsuits to one of the top 125 companies in the country to work for, he is frank about his own shortcomings, making his address feel more genuine than a 45 minute commercial for DaVita.

The bulk of the conference took place after KT’s address and involved various panel discussions and opportunities to speak with recruiters from DaVita, Cardinal Health, McKessen, HealthSouth, HCA, Grant Thornton, Teknetex, and other high-profile Health Care companies.

Panel discussions covered the topics of Medicare sustainability, venture capital in the Health Care industry, and Health Care innovation. Medicare sustainability was an interesting discussion. Topics ranged from suggestions for solutions involving educating the public to assertions that this issue will have repercussions that will affect the US for generations to come. Unfortunately, the Q&A session following the discussion was too short to dig deeply into the topic with the panel, but it was nevertheless an excellent opportunity to hear what experts in various fields are thinking, saying, and doing about what is undoubtedly one of the largest issues that Health Care will have to address in the coming years.

Lunch provided a welcome break from the panels and recruiting booths that populated the conference. The second keynote address was from the Chief Medical officer of HCA, Jon Perlin. Although the topic was one of great interest as it addressed the specific legislation under consideration and various stages of approval on the national level, tensions were high as there appeared to be a disconnect between the consensus of the academics and the physicians on how the policies would affect the world of Health Care in the United States.

The HCBA conference was an excellent opportunity to meet with people who are passionate about Health Care and its place in both the private and public sectors as the United States focuses its attention on this increasingly visible and complex problem. Terry’s support and interest in growing Health Care concerns represents a huge step forward for the Business School as these issues will increasingly become mainstream topics of discussion in the business worlds.

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