Nine Suffolk healthcare administration students and five professors were among a large gathering of healthcare leaders who attended the 45th Annual Mid-Winter Leadership Forum on January 27.

For the fourth consecutive year, Suffolk’s Healthcare Programs co-sponsored the event, along with the Massachusetts Hospital Association (MHA) and the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) of Massachusetts.

 

The forum explored the theme of “Healthcare Reform: How Do You Measure Up?” and looked at cost-saving innovations in healthcare from several perspectives.

David Cutler, PhD, an economist at Harvard University, opened with a presentation entitled, “Medical Spending Control: How Do We Get There?” Cutler noted that healthcare costs are rising faster in Massachusetts than anywhere else, largely because the state has higher skill levels and greater inefficiencies than other areas.

Asserting that about 33 percent of medical spending is unnecessary, Cutler identified solutions to four key cost issues. He recommended increasing tiered networks to reduce the amount of high-cost care. He suggested that shared decision-making tools would help prevent illnesses and coordinate end-of-life care. Finally, he proposed adjusting payment from volume to value would minimize inefficient care processes, and streamlining the healthcare system would reduce administrative costs.

Later, a panel of employers from Southcoast Health System, the Group Insurance Commission, Analog Devices Inc., and Electric Time Company Inc., discussed the emerging health benefit/wellness options that aim to save costs while keeping people healthier.

The final speaker was Sarah Patterson, executive vice president and COO of Virginia Mason Medical Center (VMMC), an integrated healthcare system in Seattle, Washington. She described challenges that VMMC had faced over the years and recounted some of the fundamental changes that the organization has implemented. For instance, her organization has adopted the Toyota Production System philosophies and practices to create an effective management approach.

 

The forum enabled Suffolk students to gain insights into healthcare that complement what they are learning in classrooms and through their internships and mentoring. Ross Schultz, a Suffolk MHA student from Iowa, found the forum to be informative. “I enjoyed the leaders immersing me in present and future challenges and opportunities. They really brought to life why healthcare is such an extraordinary place to be,” he said.

After the forum, the students and Professor Rick Gregg joined healthcare professionals for a fun and lively afternoon at the ACHE Early Careerist Networking event. Gregg shared many laughs with students as they played pool and thought of ways to get more students involved in the ACHE.

Suffolk students’ registration fees were paid, in part, with funds from the Suffolk University Healthcare Students Beyond-the-Classroom Fund.