At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, medical group leadership approached Philip Lamptey, MD, MBA’16, with the issue of high-risk patients with cancer who needed medical evaluation for COVID-19 infection. The oncology team had significant challenges accommodating these in their clinics. Dr. Lamptey used what he learned about operations in the Physician MBA Program at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business to navigate the issue as a new leader in this role.
“I had to forge relationships and quickly understand the needs of these patients, for whom COVID could be a death sentence. We quickly collaborated to come up with new processes, which fell back on the healthcare operations lessons from the MBA program,” said Dr. Lamptey, Care Division Medical Director of Cone Health Medical Group in Greensboro, North Carolina, who oversees seven urgent care sites with about 50 providers. “We identified a way to get these patients the care they needed in the right environment with the right resources. We created a dedicated path for patients with cancer to access the urgent care through a designated area to reduce exposure to other sick patients. If they needed to go to the ED, we had strong, closed-loop communication with the cancer center staff about the outcome of the patient’s visit. This created a safe ‘bubble’ of care for these patients. We became the go-to location for patients from oncology clinics until there was more PPE, COVID testing, and a greater understanding of the disease process itself.”
Physicians like Dr. Lamptey often find themselves in the position of bringing clinical perspectives when business decisions are being made. They relying on their clinical expertise and any administrative skills they’ve picked up along the way.
In 2012, Dr. Lamptey began a hospitalist program in a small hospital north of Dayton, Ohio. As a solo hospitalist in the program, he worked closely with several administrators to grow the program and determine its profitability as a potential venture for the hospital. It was his first time testing the waters of business administration and what ultimately led him to enroll in the Physician MBA Program.
“Along the way, I realized I had clinical perspectives on patient care, but I didn’t understand fully what goes into getting the patient in front of me and what happens after the patient leaves me – what that means financially or operationally to the hospital. It wasn’t part of my training,” Dr. Lamptey said. “I started reading and investigating how I could gain more competencies in business of healthcare. I came across many MBA programs, but I wanted one with a strong healthcare focus and faculty experienced in this field. That search landed me at the Kelley School.”
I came across many MBA programs, but I wanted one with a strong healthcare focus and faculty experienced in this field. That search landed me at the Kelley School.”
As he learned more about healthcare operations and process improvement, Dr. Lamptey began to identify new approaches to coordinating care. In the world of urgent care sites, there is much coordination between primary care, emergency rooms, and hospital care.
“Acute illness is an area that requires us to coordinate heavily with primary care to make sure patients have a next step for their care. We must ensure that people who access the health system for the first time through urgent care are directed to primary care, and that comes with a lot of operational nuances,” Dr. Lamptey said. “This must be done in a way that is sustainable to ladder up to our mission. The Kelley MBA played a big role in helping me understand this.”
Another operational skill Dr. Lamptey gained through the Physician MBA Program is the value in Lean Six Sigma training. He says he can better optimize the resources he has in healthcare to produce the most value. The course Business Process Improvement for Healthcare Executives helped Dr. Lamptey shift his mindset to one of a healthcare provider with a greater understanding of financial and operational perspectives.
“That’s a fun thing about the MBA: You start by identifying gaps, and then, you look for ways to bridge them. If you need to fund a project, you might talk to venture capitalists to generate interest. It gives you the opportunity to think broadly about how to achieve your goals, how to solve the problems you didn’t anticipate, and how you can bring to bear everyone’s skill sets and knowledge to do so,” Dr. Lamptey said. “Those lessons helped a lot, and I use it every day as I continue to build on that foundation the MBA afforded me.”
The MBA gives you the opportunity to think broadly about how to achieve your goals, how to solve the problems you didn’t anticipate, and how you can bring to bear everyone’s skill sets and knowledge to do so.”
Among the greatest lessons Dr. Lamptey says he gained from the Physician MBA Program was the bird’s eye view of healthcare – its history, its current state, and where it’s going next. He says it’s a theme physicians experience each day, but it isn’t one they have time to process.
“Back in 2016, I remember we shifted from volume to value, but we don’t have time to think about what value is,” Dr. Lamptey said. “Having a wide, overall view and understanding of how healthcare policy affects what we do on a daily basis helps us think outside the box and take on projects we wouldn’t typically even consider.”
Dr. Lamptey says he’s a different physician—and a different leader—now that he’s earned his MBA. He says it feels like a part of his brain has been reactivated suddenly to work in overdrive, seeing opportunities for change in healthcare. There are suddenly more ways to approach his work.
“On the medical track, you’re trained to think alone, work alone, and own what you do. The Physician MBA broadens your abilities to understand where your resources are, to understand how to collaborate with other people to share viewpoints, and to understand the bigger picture,” Dr. Lamptey said. “Eventually, having this perspective helps the patient you’re treating. You’re not running faster to achieve the same amount of output. You become more savvy, and you have more ways to get things done by leveraging your skills and collaborating with others. You do more in less time with less effort.”
You become more savvy, and you have more ways to get things done by leveraging your skills and collaborating with others. You do more in less time with less effort.”
Beyond the knowledge gained from the Physician MBA Program, Dr. Lamptey says he’s learned how to have an impact; something that’s difficult to value in dollars. By seeing the results of his new capabilities in his daily work and the changes he has made as a leader, he says he can have greater impact on the health system overall.
“Anyone pursuing an MBA has a drive, or a question, or some needs to address. Going through this program will provide those answers to get you where you feel more satisfied in your work,” Dr. Lamptey said. “The Physician MBA Program has offered much more than I imagined it would. I continue to build on a solid foundation it gave me in my leadership journey. I can’t put a price on that, and I will not trade my MBA experience for anything else—if I could do it again, I would.”