Aaron Carman, GCMM’21, manages an IT platform for service delivery at Franciscan Alliance healthcare system. For the past several years, he’s heard leaders say the system needs to “run healthcare like a business.”
“I don’t know anything about business. I went to school for Spanish, minored in technology and landed in IT. I needed to figure out what the business of this is,” says Aaron. “I didn’t see IT as part of the driver.”
Aaron enrolled in the Graduate Certificate in Medical Management, a 12-month “mini MBA” through the Kelley School of Business at IUPUI. He started shortly after the global pandemic shutdown in spring 2020 and took courses 100% online.
Right away, he applied his business learnings at work to think beyond the current state and plan strategically into the future.
“Everything I learned was applicable right away because I was in a unique position where I was leaning into the business aspect of the organization from the IT space,” says Aaron. “Before the certificate, I managed daily operations. I didn’t have time to think about where we wanted to be in six to 10 months, but now, I can quickly adapt. The first thing I did was develop an organization strategy across my departments that aligns with leadership, so we’re all marching to the same drum.”
Before the certificate, I managed daily operations. I didn’t have time to think about where we wanted to be in six to 10 months, but now, I can quickly adapt.”
Because the majority of Aaron’s work involves interacting with different teams across the organization, he says the change management courses from the Kelley Graduate Certificate in Medical Management also provided crucial takeaways.
“It’s relationship building and understanding how to do that better in our teams,” he says. “Having the information in my back pocket about the four behavioral types and being able to help each other get what you need was very useful.”
In fact, Aaron has recommended two of his team members pursue the graduate certificate program to foster their leadership potential.
“I think it would add a lot of value to them and escalate their abilities to deliver, and we’ll be speaking the same language as a team,” he says.
Managing the IT platform while taking on a graduate certificate was a challenging balancing act, but Aaron says the Kelley School team worked with him to ensure he could meet his deliverables and fit the coursework into his schedule. It helps, he says, to have engaging faculty members who are eager to help you learn.
“[Clinical Professor of Marketing] Kim Saxton was the most influential faculty member for me during the certificate,” says Aaron. “She’s super down-to-earth and easy to talk to, but very challenging at the same time. Her course really forces you to think differently. I noticed I do better with that type of personality; it was really engaging.”
Aside from practical lessons in business, Aaron says the program helped him understand how to do things differently in healthcare by not being afraid of change. As his leadership challenges him to approach things differently through telemedicine and low-cost models, Aaron says the big takeaway is keeping patients healthy and finding new ways to reach them through their communities.
“We have a 30-day challenge that encourages team members to be more joyful in their lives, to give back and take our mission to a new level to deliver value to the community,” says Aaron. “Having gone through the Graduate Certificate in Medical Management Program, I can see value in those initiatives and how I can support them and throw ideas into the bucket.”
As he’s grown his business expertise, Aaron feels it’s important for everyone in the organization to understand the cost of healthcare and how to reduce expenses and align patient value with those elements. Sometimes, that means asking a clinician to consider a different brand of medication or finding other ways of cutting costs while preserving quality care.
“It helps leaders like me to have a conversation about this and point out alternatives that are a third of the cost – if we all do it together, it helps us across the board,” says Aaron. “Whether it’s a brand of medication or medical device for implant, helping others understand value and consistency creates a better outcome for everyone.”
Whether it’s a brand of medication or medical device for implant, helping others understand value and consistency creates a better outcome for everyone.”
If Aaron can lead a productive shift in thinking that encourages cost-saving approaches that preserve high-quality patient care, he’s hopeful the measures can help his teams be more successful and engaged. As he finished the graduate certificate, Aaron was merging two departments into one. This created greater value for the organization but presented a big transition for his team members.
“I demonstrated how the move will help them be more successful, which achieves our goals for leadership while keeping our folks engaged,” says Aaron. “I wouldn’t have been able to do that as well before the graduate certificate because I didn’t even know where to start. Now, I know it starts with research, looking at best practices, what others are doing in this area and identifying key takeaways to bring value. This certificate has helped a lot in strategizing a move forward.”