Blood transfusions can be a life-saving therapy. In recent years, however, research has shown that transfusions are among the most overused procedures in the country. Unnecessary transfusions increase a patient’s health risk and healthcare costs while wasting a critical, limited resource.
Jason Spoljoric, MD, MBA’17, is an anesthesiologist, medical director of surgical services and medical director of patient blood management at Community Health in Indianapolis. Like many health systems, Community is working to optimize its blood transfusions, and Dr. Spoljoric is leading the charge. He is applying what he learned in the Indiana University Kelley School of Business Physician MBA Program to shape his plans.
“We are using process improvement strategies like Lean Six Sigma, which I learned through operations projects in the Kelley Physician MBA Program, so I understand what was going on. Our whole blood management initiative has been based on my MBA learnings,” he says. “I wouldn’t have had any idea of how to approach it before. Now, I’m able to look at the data and see what kind of improvements we could make. I couldn’t have done any of that without the Physician MBA.”
Now, I’m able to look at the data and see what kind of improvements we could make. I couldn’t have done any of that without the Physician MBA.”
When he enrolled in the 21-month physician-only program, Dr. Spoljoric enjoyed practicing clinical anesthesia but was looking for a fresh opportunity. He discussed with a colleague the idea of earning an MBA.
“Being located in Indianapolis, we found the Kelley program and thought it was a no-brainer,” he says of enrolling. “It’s a great experience. The fact that you’re not getting just any MBA—you’re earning an MBA focused specifically on medicine from a top-ranked business school—was so beneficial for us.”
After completing the program, Dr. Spoljoric became an advocate for physician MBAs. Ultimately, he and colleague Michael Stennis, MD, MBA’17, completed the Kelley Physician MBA Program along with two more of his associates: Michael Caldwell, MD, MBA’18, and Trent Gray, MD, MBA’20.
“The Physician MBA builds a robust physician network,” he says. “There are now four strong physician leaders within our network who went through this program.”
Among the skills he earned during the degree, Dr. Spoljoric says lessons from the negotiations course are ones he uses every day in his interaction with colleagues. He says this professional training has also colored all of his personal interactions.
“When you hear the term ‘negotiations,’ you think about contracts, but these skills go beyond that. It’s how you approach every single situation with people,” he says. “It’s the give and take of each situation and communication, and I think that’s really helped my whole approach at work.”
During his studies, Dr. Spoljoric’s health system was opening a new hospital and looking to grow its operating room business. Dr. Spoljoric was selected as the medical director of surgical services.
“The MBA is what pushed me over the top and helped me land that role. They wanted someone with a business background, as opposed to someone with simply a lot of clinical experience,” explains Dr. Spoljoric. “I don’t think I would’ve had the confidence to even to apply for the role without the Kelley MBA, and then, the role kind of found me as I was finishing the program.”
The MBA is what pushed me over the top and helped me land that role. They wanted someone with a business background, as opposed to someone with simply a lot of clinical experience,”
Throughout the Kelley Physician MBA Program, the diverse curriculum composed of healthcare-focused topics help fill in the gaps for physicians who may not have gained this insight during medical school or in clinical practice.
“As an anesthesiologist, there are lots of ongoing topics in medicine that I had no clue about,” says Dr. Spoljoric. “But I learned about the latest issues through Kelley’s healthcare IT course, the history and politics of U.S. healthcare and everything happening in the legislature with the business law class. It was so well rounded.”
As a capstone “project” after his final year of the Physician MBA Program, Dr. Spoljoric drew upon all his newfound skills to co-launch a new business he’d been developing with fellow Kelley alum Dr. Caldwell. As an answer to their own staffing frustrations, Indiana Anesthesia Solutions is a service the physicians created to provide an on-demand MD and CRNA anesthesia staffing. An innovative solution to temporary staffing needs, Indiana Anesthesia Solutions is an application that plugs in anesthesia staff to fill short-term shifts at local hospitals in place of hiring costly locums.
“Launching this business put everything from the MBA together for me: the finances, the leadership skills, the business law expertise. I couldn’t believe the amount of legal considerations that go into starting a company,” says Dr. Spoljoric. “I had a good grasp on negotiating with insurance companies and the attorneys handling all the networks where we’re providing services. This experience was the capstone for everything I learned at Kelley.”
It’s an experience Dr. Spoljoric says would’ve been completely different – if it took root at all – without the business acumen gained at the Kelley School of Business.
“I wouldn’t have had any idea how to launch this or have understood the financial statements or the importance of how you spend your marketing dollars,” he says. “I couldn’t have done this without the Physician MBA.”