Online Healthcare MBA Program

Online Healthcare MBA


GW’s Online Healthcare MBA: Relevant, Comprehensive, and Practical

In this recording, Dr El Tarabishy takes us through what is the online Healthcare MBA at School Business and how it is relevant in today’s healthcare environment. He will also take us through a sample discussion from his course ‘ Foundational Management Topics in Healthcare’.

Speaker: Ayamn El Tarabishy, Program Director of the online Healthcare MBA


Dr. El Tarabishy: Thank you everybody for joining today’s webinar. I am delighted to be here and it’s wonderful. We’re in Washington, D.C. and the weather here is absolutely gorgeous; so I am just happy to be here today. I went out for a nice walk this afternoon and I was looking around and I said, “This is a nice fall day”. But I want to thank you all for also joining here.

A little bit about myself, I’ve been with GW now for over 10 years and I am a professor here in the Department of Management. I teach multiple courses on campus and also online and I must say I got used to the online environment here. So I want to, again, thank you all for joining and, Annie, thank you very much for the nice introduction here.

And a little bit about myself, I used to work at the World Bank prior to joining GW. I worked in the Strategy Group at the World Bank and I switched here. My area of focus is, of course, on innovation, entrepreneurship, but looking in particular and in more detail in the healthcare domain. So, that’s a little bit about me. I’m married and I have two kids, twin boys, who are seven years old. So they’re a bunch with and it’s just a fun time to be with them, especially with Halloween coming around.

Let me start the session here and go from there. The GW Healthcare Program, or the GW Online Healthcare MBA Program. What’s important about this? Can you all see the slides with three circles, Annie do you see it on the screen?
Annie: Yep, yep, it’s showing.

Okay good. Making sure it works, okay. I think visuals are very important especially to portray a clear message of what we’re trying to do and what’s the objective here. So with the GW Online Healthcare MBA Program, the driving force, the pillars, the foundation itself, is what I call kind of like a three-legged stool. Or three circles or three spheres that are all inter-connected.

Anyway you look at it, it starts with relevancy; why is this important? We know very well that today and with everything that’s going on in the news and the day-to-day life, that healthcare is becoming more and more critical. Especially when it comes to taking care of individuals, the aging population, new opportunities in the market, and also new technological innovation that I bring this all to the forefront. Not to talk about the elephant in the room, which is the insurance, the Affordable Care Act, Congress, what they’re planning to do, and so forth. So it gets complicated. It gets complicated in the U.S. perspective year, but it’s also worldwide. It’s an issue worldwide.

The second sphere here is practicality. We can listen to MPR, we can listen to all the media agencies forever, but at the end of the day, the question is, “Am I going to get better healthcare and are my kids covered? And are there opportunities for me in my career to be in the healthcare industry? What about if I’m in the healthcare industry and either the position, the administrator, nurse or whatever profile you fit into this, where am I in this and how do I move up”? The practicality of it, you know, something that’s tangible that you could control a little bit of. Not all, but some of it.

And finally, the whole point of comprehensiveness. How it all fits together? How it all touches everything together. Why in particular, we mentioned healthcare MBA, the words themselves raises alarms. Healthcare and masters in business administration. But the more you think about it, the more you realize that they’re indispensible. Today, more than ever, the business of healthcare and the healthcare as an industry and the business are also important.

That’s what the whole GW Online Healthcare MBA is about. It’s about looking at healthcare from many different angles, but also looking at it from a business perspective and saying, “What are we doing? How are we influencing this and how do we better prepare this?”
As you can see here and which is kind of nice, if you look in the top left corner here, it is the GW School tagline that’s kind of old. I think we’ve updated it multiple times, but everybody likes it and everybody keeps going back to this one. So by popular demand, we continue to use it here which is at the centre of it all. Really, even like in Washington, D.C., the location is at the center of it all, but the topic itself is at the center of it all. Right, and it’s the GW Online Healthcare MBA.

Let me continue on with the next slide here. Relevancy, why the GW Online Healthcare MBA Program and Development? It touches on, what you see here in the slide, which is very important here. I’ll read you some of it here is medical and health services managers, also called healthcare executives or healthcare administrators. You see this says, “Excellent job, go to Outlook”. And this is from 2014 to 2024, which is about 17%. Much faster than average. Okay, so that tells you, “Hey, something’s cooking there. Something is happening there. People are looking to hire, looking to put for upward mobility, this is something of interest”.

Management analysis, often called management consultants. Imagine that you have all these consultants now roaming around hospitals and healthcare clinics offering their services and that’s something more and more becomes more prevalent – 14%. Much faster than average.

Then social and community service managers – 10% faster than average, and physicians and surgeons – 14%.

I teach a class now, it’s a Foundations class, and we had a surgeon there who doesn’t mind talking about it, and he’s talking about a whole new way of surgeons actually dealing with patients. That now they make sure that they email or follow-up with them –this comprehensive care model.

So that’s something that we talk about, but it’s also kind of what I mention in the webinar and I remember saying this, and I got some LOLs means that laughing out loudly, but also some surprises was saying it’s a new breed of surgeons that we’re seeing here. It’s not what we typically saw in the past where surgeons were just doing surgery and that’s it. Now these surgeons have added more to their portfolio when it comes to management and leadership.

Why GW School of Business? I say this, and I say out of pride here, we saw this coming. We saw the changes coming in the healthcare domain. We saw it long time ago. We saw it almost 10 years ago. We saw it and we said, “We’re going to have these cadre of individuals in the healthcare domain and people in the business world looking at the healthcare specifically, and saying, “We need to connect both of them together because they can’t just be standalone”. So this is why GW started to offer the Online Healthcare MBA.

Some of you are going to chuckle or laugh right now, but I remember the first classes we offered on the Online GW MBA, we were using an electronic platform. We didn’t have any videos. We didn’t have all these bells and whistles flying left and right. We basically did discussion threads. Imagine that, discussion threads. That was our cutting edge technology then. It was back then, but this is where it started and, again, I think this is kind of looking back, reminiscing, and saying, “But look at where we are today. Today is like back to the future, we’re doing so many different new things with technology. It’s amazing.

The GW Healthcare MBA, and this slide, you might say, “Oh, it’s a little bit of a marketing push to it”. But I want to point the first one here, which I really think is critical, that makes a big difference. It’s this whole spirit of innovation. The pioneering aspect of it and we were in it from the beginning. We were in it when things didn’t work properly. We were in it when we had to kind of figure things out as we went.

So until today, we are innovating. I think a couple years ago, we realized that everybody was basically doing the same thing and we said, “Let’s change it. Let’s kind of break what we’re doing and do something totally different”. You’ll see a little bit about this in our certificates program, see what we have done that we said, “Let’s figure it out. Let’s try it and see what happens”, but I think that differentiates us here. The best of both worlds, exactly –t’s what I call; it’s kind of having both at the same time. Healthcare and business coming together and you can go back and forth, back and forth, between both, but picking what you think is most important to you from a learning and career perspective.

Personalized MBA. That’s something that we uniquely do. We have our classes here, but we have also our sync sessions, which basically we say to faculty, “Listen, you’re going to have weekly webinars with your students and we’re going to offer multiple times, but you get to talk to the faculty. You get to talk to the faculty assistants that are working with them on this one, and you have these weekly sessions. So it’s not like an audio book where you’re just listening to things, you’re actually having live interaction”.

Elite faculty. I think that’s very snobbish of us. But if you ask faculty, everybody will not say, “Yes, yes, I’m elite”. But when we say informed faculty, faculty that care, faculty that are actually enjoying what they’re doing, and that’s what we all are about here.

Diverse community. You’ll see this in your classes. You’ll see this in how you communicate with people and what we do. I think that’s what makes GW interesting is this whole kind of spectrum of individuals coming in from different views.

GW Online Healthcare MBA is comprehensive. We start, and I’ll explain it to you, you always remember things in three’s because it’s easy. So like your phone number, you put your area code 202, then you give them your first three digits, and then the four digits. People remember three’s and three’s.

I’ll give you three points to this. We have something called the Core Business course and these are things that we say, “Listen, if you’re going to do a MBA at GW or any school, you need to understand the business world, so we’re going to offer you these core classes that you’re going to have to take, you have to understand, you’ll struggle with them, but we are going to teach you the core of business.

So, when you leave, when you ever go into a strategy meeting, a business meeting, a decision meeting, somebody throws out that you’re an ROI or KPI or TOR, any of this stuff, you say, “I know this stuff. This is part of the core, I get it”. And that’s what I call, in other words I refer to it as your common body of knowledge, your CBK [Common Body of Knowledge).

It’s like my voice. We’re teaching them how to write, we’re teaching them math, and I keep pressing them on it because I know this is the core that they need to prosper in. Then comes the fun part, the healthcare elective. This is the focused ones and this is from the School of Medicine. This is when we broke what we had before and said, “Let’s reinvent ourselves”, again, the spirit of innovation.

So we went to our neighbours, the School of Medicine, across the street and we kept talking to them and they kept talking to use and said, “How do we combine forces? How do we bring both universities together and how do we work with all this administration and bureaucracy and put something together?” And we worked on it for maybe two years, a year or two years; there were so many meetings. But eventually, it all worked out. You know how sometimes you keep working on it, keep working on it, it gets more complex, and then somehow at the end everything kind of fits? Well that’s what happened. It all fit. Everybody was happy.

So now we have something called the healthcare electives in which you take classes from the Business School, from the GW Business School, and there are other electives that are being offered. But at the same time, this is the best of both worlds. This is the more comprehensive part. You say, “I want to take a certificate on specific courses dealing in healthcare from the School of Medicine”.

We’re like, “Perfect, here is your portfolio, here is your catalogue of certificates that are available, go pick them. You can take one certificate, which will satisfy your electives requirement from the Business School, but also will offer you a certificate from the School of Medicine. So you graduate with a combination of both –an MBA degree and also a certificate. The MBA degree is exactly as if you’re on campus. Nothing is different. It’s the same diploma really, but you’re doing it online. And then you also get a certificate from the School of Medicine.

And then, if you want to add more to it, if you feel dangerous, you say, “I’m going to take some more electives from the Business School. Or you know what, I’m okay with the School of Medicine electives, I want to more focus on Business electives, so I’m going to take some of those”. So you get to mix and match of sort and you can do a combination. So that’s what we call about being comprehensive, and I was part of this negotiation and I’m very proud of this because now we say we’re different again. And that’s something that I really like to say.

So what are these electives from the School of Medicine? You say, “Okay, he’s really proud of them, so what they are?” So there’s a graduate certificate in healthcare quality and regulatory affairs; clinical research administration; clinical research practice; clinical and translational research. It took me awhile to figure out translational research, I’m like, “What is that?” But it’s there.

So, a certificate and health sciences and a certificate in integrative medicine. So now, if you’re coming in with a healthcare focus and you want to dig deeper in one of those, by all means. These are certificates that are available. Or if you come from a business perspective, but you’re interested in healthcare, well here you go. Here is the dive into this knowledge that you can take. If you take those, you end up with a certificate, plus the MBA degree. So that’s how it works.

Now you’re part of our MBA program. So what we offer is a study of abroad programs; that’s kind of the electives that I mentioned before. So you’ll be plugged into electives saying, “Oh, do you want to go to Sweden to learn about the healthcare system there? Or you want to go to India? I think this year they’re going to Singapore, they’re going to, I thought it was Israel, but I’m not sure. Korea, I know for the Winter Olympics and so forth. And you get to pick the whole portfolio of study abroad programs available.

I know our healthcare students in the past went to a couple of them and they found it fascinating that they can go for two weeks or 10 days to study abroad and actually be live with students, but also counts as part of their electives. So that’s the opportunities around the globe and we’re known for these courses. A lot of schools offer study abroad, but imagine that, you’re online and also you’re doing study abroad. The next thing you know you go intergalactic.

The GW Online Healthcare MBA Program is practical and that’s the whole point. When we were designing our program, when we were building it, we could have been very fancy. We said, “Oh, we want residences. We want them to do this, we want them to do that. We want them to apply this”. And we said to ourselves, we said, “You know we need to keep it simple. We need to keep it in a way that they understand that it’s a lot of work, but at the same time we understand that they can do it if they plan and organize themselves in a way that they can actually take the courses online and also do well.

So we offer all our courses online. We offer different times for the sync session and we actually have courses over the weekend. I teach a course on Sunday, believe it or not, from 2-3 p.m. for the Healthcare MBA, and I get a lot of people attending because they thought it’s a good time to attend.

And then you pace yourself. I know a lot of you say, “I need to finish this ASAP or yesterday”. But once you’re in the program, people change their mind. They say “Oh I can do another semester. Or you know, I’m really busy now, I just got promoted, I’m going to slow it down a little bit”. Or let me just fly through this, I’m going to add more courses in the summer”. And that’s the practical approach to it. Courses are always being offered, so you can always go back and forth with the courses you want working with your advisor.

I talked a little bit about the program and I think Annie and her colleagues will jump in and talk a little bit more about this. But I’m going to give you a little bit about the first course if you apply and get into the GW you’ll be taking me in the first course.

So this is part of the actual lecture that I do. This is the Foundations course. Imagine tonight, actually in about half an hour, I’m doing a course online with the Foundation, so we’ll talk tonight and I’ll bring the topic up and I’ll have the slides up kind of similar to this. I’ll say, “Let’s have this topic. The topic for this evening is about evolution of thought. How we were thinking about business and where we are today”?

So we talk, I do the introductions, and then I start talking a little bit about the business world and the evolution of thought. And it starts like this saying, “Imagine you’re back in the 50s to 70s, and you were running a business company or you’re in the healthcare domain, what did we have back then? What was our thinking back then?

And what we start with is that in the beginning, in the 50s and 70s, everything that we were doing, we were producing data. Everything that we did from factories to companies and stuff, we were producing a lot of data and the data was in paper form and we had it all over the place. If we even organized it, it was so much that we just placed it on top of each other. And we were mainly focused on products, the manufacturing [unintelligible 00:20:00]. You know the Cadillac’s, the Ford’s, everything that we were doing. The whole economy was focused on production. More importantly, we were focused on competition. How do we compete against each other? How do we beat each other up on price, on quality to capture more of the market share?
And that was the 50s to the 70s kind of evolution of stuff, how we were at that time. Then something interesting happened. In the 70s, the 90s, we moved from data to information. So then I stopped, and I asked the students in my class, how did we move from data to information? What happened from the 50s to 70s, from the 70s to the 90s?

A lot of people say, “Well, we got technology”. I’m like, “Great, what about technology? What did we get from technology?”

They mostly say, “Oh, we got the computer, the mainframe computer. We started using computation to sort out all the data and to organize it”. Then I become a little bit more difficult and I say to them, “Do you remember what programs that were used in the beginning to start sorting out all this data?” And a lot of them will say, “Microsoft Excel”. And I say, “What came before Microsoft Excel?” And then I’m trying to date some people to see who remembers what. Believe it or not, in every session, I get one person saying, “Lotus 123”. We all remember Lotus 123. That was the first attempt for actually managers, administrators and so on, to say, “How can we capture all this data and organize it in such a fashion that it makes sense?” And this is where the technology came from, the computer, the mainframe, the Lotus 123, and then Microsoft Excel. So now we started having everything in organized buckets in these nice beautiful Excel sheets.
And then we laugh a little bit and we joke and we say, “Remember who controls the Excel sheets, controls all the ultimate power, because they can put everything in a little box”, right? And they can fit everything into this 8 ½ x 14 sheets and it’s so small you can hardly read them. But that was information.

Then we talk a little bit about products. There were so many products that people said, “We don’t need products anymore. We have enough. What we need is solution. We need to solve our problems”. So the economy actually has shifted from a product-based economy to more of a solution-based economy. We were looking more for a service-based economy. Come solve me this problem.

And then we moved from competition to cooperation. Listen, we can keep competing with each other and you lose market share, I lose market share, but if we both cooperate, maybe we can stay longer or survive more. That was the 70s to the 90s.

Then I asked, “What happened after information? After data and information, what’s next?” And what’s next really is surprising in all areas from information, to solution, to cooperation. We moved from an information-based society to a knowledge-based society. We are now what we call the knowledge community; the knowledge workers. We no longer are looking at Excel sheets. There are so many Excel sheets, you don’t need any more Excel sheets. We have Google.

When you’re looking at things, give me what is important now. How can you verify that this is actually accurate and it works; we’re seeking knowledge. We’re also not seeking solutions anymore. We have enough solutions. What we’re seeking for is innovation. How to make things better, different, unique? Now were in what we call, we’re in the innovation society.

And then we move from cooperation to what we call collaboration. An example of this, I mention, is the airline industry. They realized, “Listen, you know, we can keep competing or even cooperating, but cooperating between two airlines is not enough. What we need is a network of airlines. So you have Star Alliance, One World, and so on and so on, and say, “It’s better to take a small piece of the pie, but take many of the small pieces of the pie versus taking a big slice from a limited market and now what we see is more of a collaboration economy.

We talk about the gig economy a little bit, we talk about any different type of economy that’s out there, but the collaboration is what we see now; the sharing economy. So this is type of a slide that we go through and talk about the evolution of time.

Now as a student, you might say, “Why is this relevant?” Well it’s relevant. Because it’s relevant now that if you’re going to move up the ladder in your career that you want, the next promotion, or you want to move into the industry, people will be looking at you saying, “What do you bring to the table from a knowledge perspective? Where are your areas of expertise? How do you deal with innovation? What is your relationship with innovation? What is innovation for you and and are you ready to collaborate? How do you collaborate? What is your network?” And that’s what we end up talking about.

So then we move into another session, we talk about this whole concept of disruption. What is disruptive innovation? Where does it come from? How did it come from and what’s happening? And we talk about how Kodak went away because of the iPhone. We talk about the new disruptions in medicine that are making things obsolete. We talk about Alexa, believe it or not the voice recognition or Google home and how they can help with medicine and what’s the future like?

So we bring all of this stuff because now we’re looking in the future. We’re looking at after you graduate as medicine changes or morphs into different ways, where do you fit in this? Remember, you’ve just learned about disruptive innovation. That’s a core topic. That’s a CBK of sorts in the business world. Everybody talks about disruption.

We talk about electronic medical records, electronic health records. Where do they fit in into this whole disruption? We talk about policy perspectives of this and we talk about basically some of the different perspective, we talk about the physicians practice business model.

We bring some textbooks in that I assign and say, “People, let’s have this conversation about primary care. Let’s talk about the specialists in the physicians’ world. Let’s talk about primary care and so on. Let’s talk about primary care and physicians”. And we look at this model and we explore the pros and cons of it; the limitations, the opportunities of it.

As we’re having these conversations, as we’re having these discussions about theory and practice, you’ll also be tagged with assignments in many different forms. There are webinars. There are reading assignments. There are group projects. So, you become more of a thinker. You become more reflective. You become more critical thinker about things. In my course, I tell my students, “We question everything. Nothing is assumed because I want them to start exploring things with a critical mindset. Not just assume what’s given to them as a theory does work. Maybe we need to throw this theory out and say, “Let’s come up with a new theory” and that’s kind of what we do in my course.

As we get into this preparation of how to think, the critical thinking aspect, the routine of the blogs, the webinars, the presentations, you start to get a feel of what is a MBA program. It is not just reading a bunch of textbooks or trying to do some exams and graduate, it is about deconstructing yourself. Deconstructing the way you think, the way you plan, the way you practice, and rebuilding it from the beginning with a new eye on how the world evolves around you and what it means for you in the future.

So that’s kind of the Foundations course and there are other neat courses. I have James Bailey talking about negotiations. If you take his course about negotiations, he’ll always say to you, “Always move the ball forward. Don’t just stop at one point and say I’m going to draw the line here and if they don’t accept it, I’m not moving”. He’ll come and argue saying, “You’re not doing yourself good. You need to move the ball forward because that’s one more step in better negotiation”. And you’ll get into that or you’ll talk to Dr. Chris [unintelligible 00:28:41] talking about what happened in the crisis in Mt. Everest. How did they all collapse on top of the mountain? What went wrong? Was it communication? Was it trust? Was it a combination of things? So these are the type of conversations that you have with us at GW.