Field Course: Transforming Health Care Delivery - Harvard Business School MBA Program

Field Course: Transforming Health Care Delivery

Course Number 6219

Professor Robert S. Huckman
Fall; Q1Q2; 3 credits
28 sessions
Enrollment limited to 40 students

At the root of the transformation occurring in the health care industry - both in the United States and internationally - is the fundamental challenge of improving clinical outcomes while controlling costs. Addressing this challenge will require dramatic improvements in the process by which care is delivered to patients. This will, in turn, involve changing the organization of delivery, approaches to measuring performance, and the way in which providers are paid. This course will equip students with the tools required to design and implement these improvements.

Career Focus

This course is appropriate for students interested in understanding and addressing the challenges facing health care delivery. These students may have career interests in organizations that provide health care or in firms that partner with, supply, consult to, or invest in such organizations. 

Educational Objectives

This course will help students develop the managerial skills required to identify and implement change. It will draw upon a range of approaches for improving health care delivery, including the value-based health care framework, continuous improvement, organizational redesign, population health management, precision medicine, patient engagement, and payment reform.  For each of these approaches, the course will emphasize the importance of identifying improvement targets, implementing relevant changes, and measuring their effects on performance. The field component of the course will allow students to apply course concepts and frameworks to a current challenge facing a Boston-based delivery organization.

Course Content and Organization

This course includes 14 in-class sessions during the first half of the semester (between August 31 and October 20) and 3-4 additional in-class sessions (most toward the end of the term) for project updates and presentations. Please note that several Friday sessions during Q1 will not have scheduled class activities.

The 14 in-class sessions during the first half of the course will largely involve case discussions, several with visits from case protagonists. Though the course is scheduled to meet from 1:15 PM to 3:15 PM, many of the class sessions during the first half of the course will end by 2:45 PM.  We will occasionally use the full two hours to cover additional administrative items related to field projects.

The in-class sessions during the first half of the semester will be organized into three modules:

  1. Designing for Value-Based Health Care
  2. Implementing Value Improvement
  3. Rethinking Care Delivery

During the second half of the semester (i.e., after the dedicated interview week in late October), students will work on Boston-based field projects in small teams. The course will not have required in-class sessions for most of Q2; we will only have 3-4 in-class sessions (most for presentations at the end of the term) during the second part of the semester.  Otherwise, students will have the flexibility to use the designated course time (or alternative times) for meeting with their project teams or partner organizations.

Project partners will include hospitals, other providers, and health care services or IT firms directly serving delivery organizations.  Projects will be sourced for students by the faculty.  With faculty approval prior to the beginning of the semester, student teams may be able to complete a qualified project that they have sourced themselves.
Students will be evaluated on the basis of class participation and the written and oral presentation of their field projects.

Note the following general information regarding EC field courses: Due to the nature of some EC field courses students may be required to sign a legal agreement requested by project/business partner organizations. Additional requirements and documentation may also be requested of students by organizations. While students are typically not charged a course fee for taking an EC field course, it is possible that students will be responsible for minimal out-of-pocket costs (varies per course). Funding, however, is available for local travel to partner locations.