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

Field Course: Transforming Health Care Delivery

Course Number 6219

Professor Robert S. Huckman
Associate Professor Ariel D. Stern

Fall, Q1Q2, 3 credits
Enrollment limited to 40

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 processes by which care is delivered to patients. This will, in turn, involve changing the organization of delivery, developing new approaches to performance measurement, and reimagining the ways 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. 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 transformational change. It will draw upon a range of approaches for improving value in healthcare delivery, including continuous improvement, organizational redesign, population health management, precision medicine, patient engagement, digital health, 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 health care delivery organization.

Course Content and Organization

This course includes approximately 14 in-class sessions during September and October and 2-3 additional in-class sessions (at the end of the term) for project updates and presentations. We expect that the course will use only 2 of the allocated Fridays for in-class sessions.  The remaining Fridays-as well as all class sessions during the month of November-will be reserved for project work.  The Final 2 class sessions (likely December 4 and 5) will require in-class attendance and be reserved for presentations.
The 14 in-class sessions during the first part of the course will largely involve case discussions, with several visits from case protagonists. Though the course is scheduled to meet from 1:15 PM to 3:15 PM, most 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 Improvement
  3. Rethinking Care Delivery

During the second part of the semester (i.e., after October), students will continue their work on Boston-based field projects in small teams. The course will not have required in-class sessions during the month of November. However, we will use 2 in-class sessions in December (likely December 4 and 5) for project presentations. 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 and other health care delivery organizations. Projects will be sourced for students by the faculty with students allocated to projects and teams based on preferences submitted early in the semester.

Students will be evaluated on the basis of class participation, a brief blog post, 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 to support local travel to partner locations.