Shortly after graduating from the Kelley School Physician MBA Program in May 2022, Anuj Goel, MD, MBA’22, accepted a part-time directorship role in a rural geriatric psychiatry unit. His new leadership hoped Dr. Goel could use his business training and clinical expertise as a psychiatrist to improve the unit and help it run more efficiently.
“The CEO of the hospital was also an MBA, so I let him know what I could bring to the table, and he was very excited,” Dr. Goel said. “When I joined, he let me know what the problems were, what his future goals for the unit were, and I told him this is something I can certainly do with what I’ve learned at Kelley.”
The unit had been struggling to fill all its beds due to staffing issues and the challenges of getting referrals to a rural, remote geriatric unit. The unit averaged about 70% occupancy, and reaching full capacity was critical for generating revenue–not just for the unit, but also to support other struggling departments. Dr. Goel directly applied Lean Six Sigma methodologies, operational management theories, organizational development, and change lessons he gained at the Kelley School to this new challenge. Because these business courses are taught through the lens of healthcare, they are easily applied to real-world situations.
“I began by interviewing staff and getting to know the current operations. Then, I mapped out the process and applied Lean Six Sigma Green Belt skills and data analytics—all the things I gained at Kelley,” Dr. Goel said. “I restructured our admissions steps to remove non-valued and time-wasting steps. In turn, I decreased the response times for referrals from one hour to 20 minutes by analyzing existing denials and improving our policies and standards around them.”
Immediately after implementing Dr. Goel’s changes, his unit increased bed occupancy by 27%, averaging about 92% overall. This increased unit revenues nearly 40%, the highest numbers the unit had in the past three years. The changes also resulted in more nursing shifts and more jobs for nursing techs, which ultimately improved the overall quality of care.
Dr. Goel says the greatest benefit of the Physician MBA Program is that it’s putting people with medical backgrounds into the decision-maker’s seat where they can make patient-driven decisions using effective business tools.
“Applying my tools from Kelley for this inpatient unit project is something I’m very proud of. Every month, I receive the data and say, ‘This is amazing.’ I was really amazed by the results—and so were my leaders. Our CEO is now in talks of expanding our psychiatric services. He has a lot of confidence in me,” Dr. Goel said. “As a physician, you need to prove yourself as an effective administrator who achieves results for them to feel confident in you. This training makes you a more effective leader and current employee.”
In addition to training in the business principles of accounting, finance, and operations, the Physician MBA Program curriculum also offers executive and leadership coaching to better help physicians understand their leadership strengths and weaknesses and how to improve. Dr. Goel says this helped him gain buy-in for his ideas by better understanding his team and how the changes would affect them.
“It’s very important that doctors become leaders in the C-suite. That’s the bottom line. With just this small unit, I made everyone happy. No one lost their job, and everyone was happy with the results because I valued everyone’s role—from the patient and the mental health technician all the way up to the CEO,” Dr. Goel said. “I valued the entire team and their contributions. The knowledge I acquired during my Physician MBA courses could benefit any sized organization.”
Like many alumni of the Physician MBA Program, Dr. Goel says the experience has made him a different leader and physician. By studying how the business of medicine is done effectively—or ineffectively—he’s gained new insight on his field and how to move it forward. His next challenge is developing a marketing strategy to promote the unit among other facilities in the region.
“Before, I was winging it when it comes to being a leader. Going through the Physician MBA Program reinforces there are ways to do things better,” he said. “Now I know what’s proven, and what’s worked for other people, so I can keep trying tested techniques. It made me a lot more confident as a physician leader.”