Updated March 25 at 12:28am
health care

Brown begins master’s program in health care


PROVIDENCE – The first class of 28 students from 14 states began their studies in the new Executive Master of Healthcare Leadership program at Brown University on Aug. 9 as part of special convocation.

Christina H. Paxson, president of Brown University, welcomed the members of the inaugural class of 2015, invoking the legacy of Roger Williams and the original charter of Brown University for thinking in a different way. Brown, about to celebrate its 250 anniversary, was able “to turn on a dime” to offer the new master’s program, reflecting both the rapid change in higher education and the delivery of health care, she said.

The premise of the new master’s program is that health care is undergoing a “rapid, disruptive and persistent change,” and it will require “visionary leaders” to transform the health care delivery system.

The five Rhode Island participants in the first class are Carl Erik Bergeson, a nurse manager at Westerly Hospital, Brenda Melone, outpatient coding director at Lifespan, Meryl Moss, chief operating officer at Coastal Medical, Dr. Doreen Wiggins, director of Women’s Cancer Survivorship and a breast surgeon, and Dr. Anthony Napoli, medical director of the Rhode Island Hospital Chest Pain Center.

The 16-month program has 10 faculty members and 35 affiliated experts, with a blended program of four on-campus sessions combined with online coursework.

The convocation featured a keynote presentation by the husband-and-wife team of Dr. Jerome Groopman and Dr. Pamela Hartzband of Harvard Medical School, who talked about their recent book, “Your Medical Mind,” which seeks to help patients and care-givers navigate through the decision-making in health care choices through a better understanding of how people make decisions.

Using stories from patients, whose identities were protected, Groopman and Hartzband illuminated different dichotomies – doubter vs. believer, naturalist vs. technologist, maximalist vs. minimalist – behind the reasons why patients make the choices they do, a kind of 21st-century Meyer-Briggs assessment for health care.

The keynote was followed by a panel discussion focused on health care leadership challenges in 2013 and beyond, featuring Ira Wilson, chair of the Department of Health Services, Policy and Practices at Brown as moderator, including Jennifer Wood, chief of staff of Lt. Gov. Elizabeth H. Roberts, Marlene McCarthy, co-founder and volunteer chair of the R.I. Breast Cancer Coalition, Dennis Keefe, president and CEO of Care New England, Mike Hudson, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, Dr. David Ashley, medical director of the Family Care Center at Memorial Hospital, and Robert Linke, president and CEO of Embera NeuroTherapeutics, Inc.

The group discussed a number of the patient-centric models being developed in Rhode Island, with Care New England’s emphasis on building its primary care network and Blue Cross’s $60 million investment in patient-center medical homes in the state. McCarthy offered a breast cancer survivor’s perspective on how her group’s advocacy successfully changed the focus of national breast cancer research.

Wilson asked the panelists to describe what they were looking for in hiring new members of their team. Wood talked about the ability to be totally conversant with smart phone technology, and the ability to elevate the contradictions in a transparent process. Ashley said he looked for a candidate who was a coalition builder with an appetite for IT analytics. Keefe talked about the qualities of being positive, saying that negative people sucked the air right out of room. McCarthy talked about people who were risk-takers, who were optimistic, and who had a plan of action. Linke talked about the ability to think outside the box and to disrupt the marketplace, with a resilience to deal with failure.


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