Shaping Tomorrow’s Health-Care Sector Through Cross-Enterprise Leadership

Canada’s health sector, indeed the health sector worldwide, is rich in opportunity. By the same token, it faces daunting challenges. The pace of scientific discovery in new medicines and advanced diagnostics is quickening. With genomics and proteomics, exciting breakthroughs in treatment are on the horizon, and nanotechnologies and digital imaging are advancing important innovations in medical devices and techniques.

However, the sector’s adoption of information and communications technologies critically lags that of other sectors. This impedes the sharing of knowledge and patient information among medical professionals. It can hamper effective diagnosis and treatment. It often limits productivity.

Meanwhile, there’s the looming prospect of global pandemic, the mounting pressures created by an aging and increasingly obese population and the escalating shortage of highly skilled workers. Consequently, health-care costs are skyrocketing, placing an increasing strain on government spending.

Yet at the same time, the health industry drives significant economic growth. In most developed countries, including Canada, it contributes 10 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and represents one in 10 workers. Health care also represents a huge market opportunity worldwide. According to BCC Research, for instance, the global market for anti-aging products and services was worth $162.2 billion last year. It is expected to reach $274.5 billion in 2013. The disease treatment segment alone has the largest share of this market. It was worth $66 billion in 2008, and is anticipated to almost double to $119.2 billion in just four years from now.

Capturing these new and exciting possibilities, while solving the lingering problems in the health sector, requires an in-depth and big picture understanding of the issues. Equally essential are strategic foresight and bold approaches. Above all, a new brand of leadership is needed.

Ivey’s Cross Enterprise Leadership approach to education and research provides that calibre of leadership. It is enabling exceptionally motivated students with solid academic credential and relevant life sciences business experience to explore and advance innovative, realistic solutions in health care.

For example, Ivey launched its Health Sector MBA in 2005. It builds on the foundation established when Ivey joined forces with the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, and the London Health Sciences Centre to introduce its Biotechnology MBA six years ago.

The goal of Ivey’s Health Sector MBA is to train leaders with the capabilities and business skills needed to lead, shape, and change health care. It brings together a diversity of students – from scientists to physicians to marketing professionals – to create an in-class dynamic that mirrors that in the health sector.

Its curriculum is organized into four modules. In the first three modules, the health stream students participate in the same MBA program as all Ivey students, learning the essentials of business management with students from other backgrounds. This provides them with insights into what works in other sectors and how they might apply these lessons to the health sector.

In the fourth module, “Excelling through Cross-Enterprise Leadership,” half of the courses focus on health sector management and leadership. For example, students delve into the design of clinical trails, cost-effectiveness analysis, and the negotiation of risk-sharing agreements in developing new drugs and other products. They explore the legal web of public- and private-sector relationships in health, and probe the sector’s vigorous interplay between intellectual property and regulation.

In addition, students examine daily operations and strategic planning in light of the major external factors that influence behaviours in the health sector. They investigate the types of financing for health companies, acquiring a framework for making key financial decisions. They also become skilled at generating strategies to drive superior performance.

These studies culminate with the Ivey Consulting project, whereby a team of students, with the help of their Faculty Advisor and their Executive in Residence, analyse and develop solutions to real management and health-sector issues over a four-month period. A typical project could involve the critical analysis of clinical operations or the launch of a new medicine. Students also have access to an exclusive mentorship program where they are partnered with a successful health manager.

Overall, the Ivey Health Sector MBA provides health leaders with the multi-disciplinary skills and knowledge they need to capitalize on the revolutionary change affecting the health sector.

In addition, medical science or health science students who complete their first two years of study at The University of Western Ontario can enrol in the Honours in Business Administration (HBA) undergraduate program at Ivey. Then, over the next three years, these students can pursue their studies in both business and the medical or health sciences to graduate with two honours degrees.

To further cement the great partnership forged among Ivey, the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, and the London Health Sciences Centre, the Ivey Centre for Health Innovation and Leadership was launched last March.

The Government of Canada has invested $5 million in this new Centre to leverage the recognized strengths of Ivey and its partners in bridging the gap between business, and science and technology. The Centre will bring together expertise from the business, health sciences and medical sectors to identify, assess and commercialize innovative health technologies, systems and processes. It will also help to develop business leaders for the health sector who initiate constructive change for the benefit of providers, patients and Canada’s overall healthcare system.

This new initiative is integral to the federal government’s Science and Technology strategy, which sets out a multi-year framework to improve Canada’s long-term competitiveness and quality of life through “Entrepreneurship, Knowledge and People.”

“The Ivey Centre will be action oriented,” as Industry Minister Tony Clement noted in announcing the Government’s investment. “In bringing together the public and private sectors, (it) will combine the best elements of academic rigour with the entrepreneurial spirit and commercial discipline of leading companies.”

One of the country’s most outstanding medical leaders, and Director of the Ivey Health Sector MBA Program, Dr. Kellie Leitch, will become the Centre’s first Academic Director. She will assemble a team of outstanding educators and researchers to build an unprecedented network of thought leaders, business champions and entrepreneurs capable of driving the positive results that endure.

The health sector brings together multiple industries and professions. Its issues are global in scope and personal in their impact. Its future is vastly promising and absolutely vital, economically and socially. Perhaps more than any other, the health sector underscores why Ivey’s Cross-Enterprise Leadership approach to research, teaching and management is so critical today.