A physician, an executive, a dedicated equestrian, an avid art collector, an international traveler, and a humanitarian who describes himself as a “curious, highly motivated, and empathic individual surrounded by art who meets everyone where they are.” While you may be listening for the James Bond-theme music and expecting a man in a suit to appear, instead get ready for a white coat. Meet Satchi Hiremath, MD, MBA’23.
Dr. Hiremath has called Wisconsin home for roughly 20 years and currently serves as the system vice president and physician executive at Advocate Aurora Health. Responsible for 12 service lines in the Midwest, he leads a team to ensure integrated, high-quality, and cost-effective care is consistent across all service lines within 28 hospitals and 500 ambulatory sites of care, which employ roughly 6,000 clinicians.
“It’s a huge responsibility for clinical programming and strategy, but I love the role,” Dr. Hiremath said.
After leading his team through a once-in-a-generation health crisis, Dr. Hiremath recognized the U.S. healthcare system is broken and requires clinicians equipped with a business perspective to drive innovative solutions for patients. Because he describes being in the business of medicine, Dr. Hiremath knew he needed the right education to match this unique type of language and expertise. This led him to the Physician MBA Program at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business in Indianapolis.
“Physicians are unique students with years of discipline and life-long learning,” said Dr. Hiremath. “I knew the Kelley curriculum would be challenging, and it led to a new skill set to solve healthcare problems.”
Dr. Hiremath was drawn to the program’s hybrid learning model, which is a combination of online and in-person learning opportunities, and Kelley’s talented, research-active professors who are passionate about their students’ learning experience. He also liked that the Physician MBA isn’t a pass-through program; you can’t phone it in to get more letters added to your name.
“The best part of the Kelley Physician MBA Program is working and learning alongside physician peers, which is missing in an online program. Zoom cannot replace three-dimensional human interaction,” said Dr. Hiremath.
Networking with and learning from his peers was a highlight during his time at Kelley. Stimulating conversations and genuine connections emerged from impromptu gatherings and cocktails with fellow students and professors after class.
“Those organic gatherings in different environments, where people showed you another side of their personalities, are my favorite memory,” Dr. Hiremath said. “During the Global Healthcare Experience course, friend groups formed spontaneously. And when people gravitated to the hotel’s cocktail lounge, they didn’t want to leave because of the camaraderie and conversations.”
He says the program curriculum gave him the knowledge to understand the language of hospital executives and to contribute to decision-making in a meaningful way.
“You become a critical thinker about the business of medicine, and it changes you as a clinician. The Kelley Physician MBA creates opportunities to question assumptions and stop accepting what’s handed to you,” Dr. Hiremath said. “Instead of scratching your head, feeling defeated by constraints, you’ll understand how to make solutions work today.”
Dr. Hiremath says the residency weekends and networking opportunities are among the most valuable components of the program.
“It’s about the connections you make. You have exclusive access to professors,” he said. “The program has bolstered my skillset. I’ve become skilled with spreadsheets, and I know how to frame marketing for clinical programming. I can think about medicine in the large economy and how the legal environment supports medicine.”
“When I started the program, I was hoping to learn the language of business. I’ve been in administrative roles for a long time and, sometimes, felt like a fraud when meeting with business-educated hospital executives. Being more fluent in the business of medicine is tremendously valuable,” Dr. Hiremath said.
Dr. Hiremath says leading clinicians across 28 hospitals during the pandemic is a crowning achievement of his career and helped him understand what humans can accomplish together.
“I oversaw every emergency room, every hospital ward, and every intensive care unit, I had the privilege to lead teams that managed it all; it was an enormous group effort,” Dr. Hiremath said. “Those 18 months were intense and focused on critical work. It was an honor to lead the clinical workforce with the dual obligation of keeping clinicians and patients safe in an ever-changing environment of science and supplies. It was humbling to be trusted to make the best decisions in keeping everyone safe while using their skills in non-traditional roles.”
“During the pandemic, I learned to delegate and trust the leaders that I trained to handle things, and I learned that I’m capable of anything when I’m focused,” Dr. Hiremath said. “You will never outwork me. I can give whatever it takes to take care of my people and patients.”
To learn more about why Dr. Hiremath was selected by Poets & Quants as a 2023 Best and Brightest Executive MBA, click here.