Georgia Institute of Technology and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta have enjoyed a robust and productive partnership over the years. For the first time, that partnership is expanding beyond innovative pediatric biomedical research, and is helping to find ways to improve business practices and management.
In November, a group of nine hand-picked Georgia Tech undergraduate students made a presentation to the CEO of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Donna Hyland, and her executive team. Two of the nine students, Shannon Felts and Emily Ratliff, are industrial engineering undergraduate students. The report and recommendations represented the work product of an entire semester of study on the future of pediatric primary care in Georgia.
At the request of Children’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Dan Salinas, a special senior level inaugural elective course was created to look at ways to address the potentially fragile circumstances of pediatric primary care and its importance and impact on the hospital’s mission, “To make kids better today and healthier tomorrow.”
Four of the students came from the Scheller College of Business, four from the College of Engineering, and one from the College of Sciences, resulting in a rich interdisciplinary learning experience. The project was conducted in the classical consulting model of literature review, interviews of pediatricians and administrators, and synthesis and recommendations.
The practice model of pediatrics is quite different than one sees in adult medicine. The majority of pediatricians are organized in traditional small private practices as opposed to large groups and hospital employment as is the national trend in adult practice. There are tremendous pressures on these small pediatric practices including thin margins, few economies of scale, and difficulty incorporating innovation due to size. The students in the Healthcare Management Practicum recommended a suite of consulting services that could be offered within the construct of a management services organization to small pediatric practices.
“It was an awesome experience to work with such bright and motivated students. They were poised and professional, and their work product was outstanding,” said Dr. Salinas.
The class was an outgrowth of the popular course Management in the Healthcare Sector, created by Scheller Professor of the Practice Bill Todd in 2012.
“We are so grateful to Children's for this wonderful learning opportunity. The students fully embraced Children’s noble mission and were pleased to contribute to solving a significant strategic challenge,” said Professor Todd.
Like many consulting engagements, there remain many issues needing further study, and both parties in the Georgia Tech – Children’s partnership hope for additional future opportunities to engage in addressing business strategy.