Nine Suffolk healthcare administration students and four professors were among a large gathering of healthcare leaders to learn about significant upcoming changes in the healthcare industry and requirements for professional success.

The January 28 event was the Massachusetts Hospital Association (MHA) 44th Annual Mid-Winter Leadership Forum. For the third consecutive year, Suffolk Healthcare Programs cosponsored the event.

The Forum, which explored the theme of “Leveraging the Continuum of Care to Enable Effective ACOs,” opened with comments by Dennis Keefe, President and CEO of Cambridge Health Alliance and Chairman of the MHA Board of Trustees.

Speakers then highlighted examples of how healthcare delivery organizations are responding to opportunities presented by healthcare reform.

Tony Miller, CEO of Carol Corporation, described how the healthcare industry must move from “Volume to Value” and “Align Value to Care Delivery and Payment.”

Gerben DeJong, Ph.D., Senior Fellow & Director, Center for Post-acute Studies at the National Rehabilitation Hospital and MedStar Health Research Institute, spoke about “Acute and Post-Acute Care: Building Blocks for Successful Integration.”

The luncheon speaker was Dr. Judy Ann Bigby, Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) in Massachusetts. She described the EOHHS Strategic Plan, which is the model for how to achieve better outcomes across the continuum of care. She emphasized that medical transitions must involve all players across the continuum of care and that patient-centered medical homes will be the center of the healthcare delivery system. In particular, she outlined the Massachusetts Patient-Centered Medical Home Initiative (PCMHI). According to its Web site (, the goal is “for all primary care practices in Massachusetts to become patient-centered medical homes by the year 2015. PCMHI is intended to address a series of challenges, including: fragmented, discontinuous care that harms patient health status and increases costs; increasing prevalence of chronic disease, and suboptimal management of chronic disease among patients with such illness; and a growing shortage of primary care providers.”

Dr. Bigby also remarked that the purpose of payment reform is to align payment with desired outcomes, which are to keep people healthy.

MHA student Lauren Humphrey, Jaclene Coit MHA '10, Professor Rick Gregg, and Professor Robert Ellertsen

Jenni Bendfeldt, a Suffolk MHA student and co-liaison to the ACHE who works at Tufts Medical Center, found the Forum to be incredibly beneficial . Learning from the speakers and conversations with healthcare leaders, she observed, “With the many changes taking place, and the new opportunities that are developing, it’s very exciting to be in healthcare. The speakers have given me a lot to think about in terms of where the healthcare system might be going and my career.”

The Forum was a superb way for Suffolk students to gain insights into the healthcare industry that complement what they’re learning in classrooms and through internships and mentoring. After the Forum, several students and Professor Rick Gregg joined healthcare professionals from around Boston for an ACHE Early Careerist Networking event. The conversation was lively, focusing on how to get more students to be involved in the increasing number of activities of ACHE of Massachusetts.

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

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