12 Feb 2020

Introducing the HCI “Health Minute”


by Shona Simkin

Since its inception in 2005, the Health Care Initiative (HCI) has fostered the growth and innovation of health care education, research, and expertise throughout Harvard Business School and the broader Harvard community. The HCI is committed to making a difference in health care by acting as a hub for all the parts of the school that touch health care. Whether by supporting Admissions in recruiting efforts, Career and Professional Development (CPD) on career-related endeavors, Alumni Relations on personalized outreach, or Executive Education on new programming, the HCI adds a valuable point of view and richness to the ever-changing health care narrative.

The HCI just released Health Minute, a series of one-minute videos highlighting HBS faculty and the remarkable breadth of their research to improve health care. We sat down with Professor Robert Huckman, faculty chair of the HCI, to talk about this new video series, the HCI impact, and the future of health care at HBS.

Robert Huckman
Evgenia Eliseeva

What prompted the Health Minute video project?
Unless you’re a student in the classroom or an avid reader of the journals in which our faculty tend to publish, you may have not had the opportunity to get to know our faculty and the big research questions that motivate them. We wanted to showcase faculty members who are passionate about improving health care in a compelling manner that is easy to consume. Our hope is that if someone is willing to spend just one minute with one of these videos, they might find something of interest, which could, in turn, stimulate new connections, new projects, and future innovation. And even if that is not the case, our hope is that it was still a minute well spent.

What is your Health Minute video about?
In my video, I discuss my interest in how companies that are established in other industries are starting to put their imprint on health care, and, in some cases, making moves that are deeper than people might have expected. These are not just big tech companies, such as Google, Amazon and Apple, but also large retail companies like Walmart and Best Buy. Retailers are realizing that with the growth of internet commerce, their physical space could be available for other uses, or that their in-store operations staff might be able to take on different types of roles.

For example, Walmart just piloted a freestanding health clinic in Georgia and has created a subsidized educational program for its employees who want to pursue careers in health care as, say, medical assistants or lab technicians. What will Walmart’s retail employees do with these medical qualifications? My guess is that the company hopes they might one day consider working at Walmart’s own clinics, should the company’s Georgia pilot get scaled up to a broader set of locations.

What we can expect from the other faculty videos?
The HCI has about a dozen videos completed, and we are working with additional faculty to capture summaries of their health care research. Currently, we have faculty perspectives that include such topics as identifying gender bias in care delivery, measuring managerial gaps to improve outcomes, tracking the relationship between value-based health care and physician burnout, and learning how to better ensure that life-saving drugs can make their way to market.

As I see it, these short videos are a way for us to share key insights from past work or stimulate conversation on issues that might drive future research. Our overarching view is the more engagement, the better. To that end, we are excited to roll these videos out more broadly over the next few months.

What are other exciting areas of development related to health care work at HBS?
One of the interesting things we are seeing is more interaction between HBS and Harvard Medical School around both developing clinicians who can be leaders of larger organizations and providing the leaders of non-health organizations with a greater appreciation of the impact of health care on their companies. It goes in both directions, as health care is a major cost item and concern for virtually all corporations as they think about how they're going to ensure the health, wellbeing, and productivity of their workers. Appreciating the complex array of health care issues is becoming central to understanding of how business and management work.

We are also excited about the new MS/MBA Biotechnology: Life Sciences degree program with HBS, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and Harvard Medical School. This joint degree builds upon students’ existing biotech and life science knowledge to equip them with the latest business and scientific insights from HBS other parts of the university. The program joins several of our other joint-degree programs that combine health care and business, including the MD/MBA, DMD/MBA, MBA/MPP and the MS/MBA in Engineering Sciences.

Additionally, the progress and growth of the Kraft Precision Medicine Accelerator and the Blavatnik Fellowship in Life Science Entrepreneurship have been remarkable. Across all of these examples, it is clear that HBS excels at providing a platform for health care innovation to thrive.

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