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Improving patient experience with an Executive MBA

17 December 2015

The article at a glance

When you picture someone on an MBA programme, you may think of a banker, lawyer or finance manager; but would you imagine …

Category: News Programme news

When you picture someone on an MBA programme, you may think of a banker, lawyer or finance manager; but would you imagine someone in scrubs?

The 2015 Executive MBA (EMBA) class is a diverse group of 63 participants from a huge range of industry backgrounds. Some work in energy, events, software and telecoms, but increasingly, more participants are coming from healthcare. So what has drawn these experts to complete an EMBA?

Dr Olalekan Otulana works as a portfolio GP in the NHS and has a special interest in drug and substance misuse management. He is also the Medical Director at the Perry Clayment Project Rehabilitation Centre. As his role has expanded over the years, he has been increasingly involved in people management and senior level decision making regarding recruitment, procurement and business expansion. “I am aware of the enormous emphasis on prudent management of resources and cost-cutting. Most of these decisions are being made my non-medical managers and the most important task is the ability to balance these management decisions with the best interest of patients’ care,” Ola says. “Having an MBA as a physician would equip me with the ingredients to manage resources wisely and ensure productivity, and more importantly, ensure that decisions are made in the best interest of patients.”

Improving patients’ care is the key driver for all of the participants in this healthcare-focused group. Dr Jag Ahluwalia, Medical Director of Cambridge University Hospitals, is responsible for a range of portfolios including clinical outcomes and quality of patient care. He also focuses on professional standards, infection control, and more recently IT and R&D. Before becoming medical director, he worked as a GP, a consultant neonatologist, the director of neonatology and the lead clinician for Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire neonatal network. Jag is completing the EMBA because of an interest in bringing different viewpoints and perspectives to addressing the problems currently facing NHS as well as wanting to understand more about managing complex organisations in uncertain times. Having a better understanding of financial, operational and business matters will also help him to ask better questions and seek appropriate assurances about the balance between the patient’s best interests, the need for careful utilisation of taxpayer funding and how and where such resources are best spent.

Improving patient experience can also be supported by better public policy. Rebecca Cotton, Director of Policy for the Mental Health Network, works with chairs and chief executives leading NHS mental health services across the country on policy and legislation impacting on the sector. She spends time with policy makers and ministers working on a wide range of issues – from funding to education and priorities for the NHS as a whole. With the current economic climate, Rebecca believes it’s essential to invest in developing the managerial capacity and capabilities of the workforce. “Great management ensures we can make the biggest difference possible – whichever good cause we are working for. [By completing the EMBA], I knew that I would benefit from deepening my understanding about how to successfully run an organisation, from making financing decisions, to developing strategy, right through to effective operations management,” Rebecca says. “I hope it will enable me to make a difference on an even bigger scale.”

With increasing financial pressure on the NHS, rising demand for its services and nearly half of all trusts finishing last year in deficit, great leadership and creative ideas can make a difference. The Cambridge EMBA participants are rising to the challenge and through hard work and expanding their knowledge of business and management, they are finding ways to improve services, policy and patient care in this difficult time for the NHS.