Disrupting Healthcare

Disrupting Healthcare Faculty Panel Discussion: How Learning, Leadership and Innovation are Challenging the Status Quo
Friday, October 23, 2015 at 2:00 pm | Central Daylight Time

Featuring a panel discussion with faculty members from University of Southern California’s (USC) Executive Master in Health Administration (EMHA) Online program.

Listen to USC EMHA Faculty members discuss how healthcare has changed and the trends shaping healthcare now, what is driving new leadership needs at the executive level and the types of leaders needed in healthcare now, and career opportunities for executives in healthcare administration.

Featuring Guest Speakers:
Dr. Mike Nichol: Director, Graduate Programs in Health
Dr. Alice Chen: Assistant Professor of Public Policy at Price School
Dr. Michael Harris: Professor, Practice of Health Services Administration and Policy


Yesenia: Welcome to today’s webinar.  We will have a discussion around healthcare.  My name is Yesenia and I am an enrollment advisor for the executive master of health administration program.  I work with new students entering the program and I’m always available to answer any questions that everyone might have.  Hope you’re excited to hear from our professors during today’s discussion.  Thanks again.

Just a few housekeeping rules for everyone, things to really note, you are in listen only mode.  Just remember to mute your line so we can give our full attention to our presenters.  We will have a Q&A at the end of our discussion, so please remember to send those questions in through the Q&A box.  A copy the presentation and the event recording will be available in the next following weeks.  For today’s agenda, we do have three of our professors joining our discussion.  They are Dr. Mike Nichol, Professor Alice Chen, and Professor Michael Harris.  They are extremely knowledgeable on many subjects regarding healthcare and we hope you’re excited.

Basically what we do have is hopefully Dr. Mike Nichol was able join us for this call, but he will be starting out discussion around an overview of USC’s EMHA program.  Professor Alice Chen will be discuss how healthcare has changed and the trends shaping healthcare and Professor Harris will be discussing what is driving new leadership needs at an executive level, what types of leaders do we need in healthcare, and also discussing what career opportunities exist for executives in healthcare administration.

Our first presenter, hopefully he’s available, is Dr. Nichol.  Are you there?  Okay, he might have ran into a few technical difficulties, so Mike?  Professor Michael Harris are you there?

Dr. Harris: I am here.

Yesenia: Okay, would you mind – once we get to that area – if you can cover the brief overview of the program.

Dr. Harris: Sure, not a problem.

Yesenia: Thank you so much.  Now it leads me back to Professor Alice Chen.  Professor Alice Chen are you there?

Prof.  Chen: Yeah, I’m here.  Hi.

Yesenia: Thank you so much.  If you can please present everyone, maybe talk a little bit about yourself, that would be great.

Prof.  Chen: Sure.  I’m Alice.  Hi, everyone.  I study health economics and labor economics, which might not mean very much so let me give you a better sense of what actually I do.  I spend a lot of my time thinking about how health providers respond to payment and insurance reform.

Some of the questions that I think about are how do providers respond to changes when the incentives that they face are changed.  Things like when we pay physicians using a quality-based system instead of a fee-for-service system, what happens to the types of services that are being offered?  What types of patients benefit?  What types of patients lose out?  What happens to access to care?

Those are some of the questions that I think about and I use applied math and economics to address these questions.  As you can see from the slide, that’s where most of my training comes from.  My research is heavily motivated by current policy, it’s always rewarding when you can see the research that we do here at USC influencing how policy-makers are thinking about reform.  So that’s a little bit about me.  I’ll pass the torch on to Dr. Harris.

Dr. Harris: Thank you.  Thank you Dr. Chen.  I’m Mike Harris and I am one of the instructors in the program.  My expertise centers around the Affordable Care Act, which is, as many of you know, one of the most transformative changes that we’ve seen in healthcare in more than 30 years.  I also talk about and teach on health policy, as well as emerging healthcare delivery models that are beginning to happen in our US Healthcare delivery system.  I also like to make sure we introduce our students to strategy and understanding what some of the strategic challenges are that are transforming our healthcare delivery system.

Prior to joining the faculty here at USC, I spent considerable time as a healthcare executive in a number of large, integrated, delivery groups in health systems.  I want to make sure that our students are able to apply information that we’ve taught in this academic environment to what happens in their actual, real-world experience.  So that’s the passion that I bring to this program.  Without any further adieu, I’ll pass the torch over to our advisor.

Prof.  ChenI assume this is me, right?  I’ll spend a few minutes talking about how healthcare has changed and then sort of where the trends in healthcare are now.  This slide, really what it’s getting at is a very big picture overview of what’s been happening in healthcare starting from the 1960s all the way until today.  So what it’s showing you is the annual percent change in health expenditures over time.  What you can see is that trend has been far from constant.  Health expenditures are always growing, but the rate at which it’s growing, which is what this is showing you, has been changing.

We can spend a lot of time talking about this, but I really want to point out just three, key ideas that I hope you take away.  These three, key ideas will all draw from periods in which the growth in health expenditures has fallen.  So when you look at this graph, I think the first one you can see is in the early 1980s.  So in the early 1980s, the healthcare growth rates are slow.  What was the driving factor behind this is how we were paying providers.

What happened was we changed the payment system from really a fee-for-service system to a Prospective Payment system, so one in which we used to compensate based on how many services you provide to a system now that sort of focuses on paying for diagnoses.  So a patient walks in with a given diagnoses and we’re going to compensate a certain fixed value no matter what services you decide to do.  So this was some initiative in Medicare driven by Congress in the early 1980s.

So the point here I wanna make is that how we pay providers matters.  The second point I wanna make is sort of going now to the second period of decline in the early 1990s.  You see sort of another decline.  What was driving this decline is insurance contracts.  What we started to see in the early 1990s is a rise in managed care penetration.  So providers were paid a fixed fee to insure the health of their patients.  We had gatekeepers that sort of started to restrict the use of care.

At this point in time you might be thinking, “Why do we care about expenditures falling if maybe that doesn’t lead to better health outcomes?” So people have studied this and tried to figure out does managed care actually reduce or make patients worse off and there’s no clear evidence that that’s actually the case.  So the second main point is insurance contracts matter.  We now have payments matter, insurance contracts matter.

We’re now in a period, I think, of the third decline, which on this graph is labeled Phase 4: The Golden Era.  So what you’re seeing talked about in the news maybe is that starting from 2003, we’ve really seen that the health expenditure growth has slowed.  This might be a little bit counter-intuitive because when you look at the population, it actually seems like the population is getting older.  Aging population requiring more care.  It’s also getting sicker so we’re seeing a rise in the prevalence of chronic diseases.  So you might think, “Well, people actually need more care, so why are we seeing health expenditures falling?” That’s what I wanna talk about on the next slide.

If we start looking at trends today, I think one way to think about what’s going on is to consider the market as demanders and supplies.  When I say demanders I’m focusing on consumers of healthcare, so these are patients.  When I talk about suppliers, these are your providers, so your healthcare organizations, your hospitals, your clinics, your physicians, your nurses, etc.  These two big players, demanders and suppliers, have both been experiencing a lot of change over the last decade or so.

In particular if we just start with the demand side looking at patients, some of the things that we’re seeing is an increased burden on patients to put up higher out-of-pocket costs, so for example the value-based insurance design is a type of reform in which patients pay more for services that produce less value, so they pay less for services that produce more value.  The point being that we’re trying to reduce the use of inefficient care.

Consumer-directed health plans is another example where patients sort of have more of a burden to try to shop around for healthcare providers, to try to use their money wisely in terms of how they spend on health services.

So those are some of the demand-side things that we’re seeing going on.  On the supply-side, which actually might be of more interest to the eyes of health managers and executives, is a lot of payment reform.  Something that we’ve seen, for example, is accountable care organizations which really gain prominence from the ACA onwards, but on the private side this has really been going on for a while, even prior to the Affordable Care Act.

One of the benefits actually of  having a program at USC and being in California is that there’s this huge laboratory in which we are seeing experiments on the supply-side.  For example, if we’re talking about accountable care organizations, Stuart Levine, who is the chief innovation and clinical care officer at Blue Shield California, has guest lectured for my classes before and he is responsible for designing accountable care organizations in Blue Shield of California.  So you really begin to see how structural changes in organization affect the delivery of healthcare through his talk.

Something else that we’ve been seeing going on are, just take for example, the patient medical homes.  This is a model that emphasizes comprehensive and coordinative care sort of geared to the idea of let’s try to reduce costs while at the same time improving quality of care.  One of the key players in this area is of course, Kaiser.  Kaiser of southern California has been at the forefront and recognized nationally to be at the forefront of experimenting with patient-centered medical home models.

The last thing I wanna touch on is just technology.  We’ve been seeing emerging technologies that are changing healthcare delivery.  Anything from healthcare apps on mobile phones that help patients manage their own health, to electronic health records, to the video imaging and operating room.  Again, California is an area in which we have a lot of hospitals with robust, clinical IT systems and in that list includes Adventist Health Cedars Sinai, of course Kaiser, and among others.

All right so that was a pretty quick and just big picture overview of I think what we see in healthcare sort of moving from the 1960s all the way to really today.  I will now pass it back on to you Dr. Harris, to talk more about the EMHA program.

Dr. Harris: Let me just start by talking a little bit about what is driving the leadership at the executive level, which I think most of not all of you are very, very interested in.  There are several key factions that play a very prominent role in the need for leadership at the executive level.  I wanna point out a few of those.  Not all of them certainly, but certainly just a few of them.

As I mentioned earlier, we are in a transformative stage in healthcare, which is now demanding a new level of executive skill.  This fact along with the loss of healthcare executive legacy knowledge that’s out there, we really are in desperate need of strong, innovative, visionary leaders.  So our program is designed –  our curriculum is designed to help equip you with that knowledge base and that knowledge to be able to go out and actually play a much more visionary role in transforming our healthcare delivery system.

So what’s driving the leadership?  So there are a couple things and Dr. Chen mentioned a few of those.  One of them is the there is a strong need for us to build a much more sustainable healthcare platform.  We know that healthcare is in this tremendous amount of pressure to build a sustainable platform and so we know that we have to have a stronger education on healthcare finance, stronger education on healthcare economics.  So our program is designed to equip you with that kind of information.

We also know that we need innovative leaders.  We need leaders that are thinking beyond the existing healthcare delivery model.  We know that we’re in a value-based system now where providers are not just paid based on a fee for their services, but it’s now based on a fee for their quality of services.  So we have to make sure that we have executive leaders who are out there and who are very much in tune with that kind of thinking.

The next one is that there is a need for much more strategic and visionary leadership.  We wanna make sure that we expose you to the concepts of strategic leadership and building what we call high performance teams.  You can’t accomplish this by yourself as an executive, but you are going to be able to develop a strong team to assist you and to help you build and transform you organization.

I think the overarching agenda for healthcare is that we have to remember and some of our leaders are still in a bit of a quandary about whether or not healthcare is changing, but we want you to be on top of the agenda that we are in fact changing.  It’s going to require leaders who can formulate strong strategies to meet those changing needs.  Our program, once again, is designed to expose you to those leadership concepts so that not only can you sit at the executive table and contribute to changing the healthcare delivery system, but our goal is to have you lead that discussion to provide that strong visionary leadership.

Again, we also want you to be able to identify what the priorities are in healthcare.  Our program is well-rounded to expose you to those new concepts that are driving healthcare change, namely quality.  We are now a quality-based system.  Sustainability as I mentioned earlier.  We have nothing unless we have built a sustainable business model that can last over time for all of the reasons that Dr. Chen mentioned.  Then, of course, patient engagement.  New concept, new discussion we’re continuing to have about making sure patients are engaged, patients satisfaction is there, so that we can see the kind of outcome that we’re expecting.  We can start to see a faster, if you will, improvement in our sustainability in the organization.

Overall our object is to make sure you’re well exposed to many of the case studies.  We want to make sure that we can have you apply that information to your everyday situations that are occurring.  In fact in most of our classes, you will see assignments where we’re asking you to go back to you organization and apply what we’ve taught you so that you can see that real-world application.  Again, that’s our goal in the program.  We have a  great learning laboratory, being in California.  We’re typically somewhere between ten 15 years ahead of the rest of the country, so we’re able to expose you to what’s happening in our world here as it relates to healthcare.

We’ll take you on a site visit in our executive and residence program.  It is not unusual for us to go to an Adventist health system or a Providence health system so you can see integration activities, innovative models working and alive so that you have some strong application to the principles that we’ve taught.

So again, those are some of the things that are driving new leadership at the executive level.  Can you go to the next slide for me please?

So our next slide, the question comes up what type of leaders do we need in healthcare right now?  Notwithstanding the information that I gave earlier, we need leaders that are more strategic in nature.  When I talk about strategic, I am talking about those leaders that have a visionary concept about where healthcare needs to go and they have a passion for getting there.  So we’re looking for leaders who are very strategic in terms of their thinking.  As we think about that, if you think about that in your mind’s eye, most of us are not strategic.  Most of us are more operational, so we want to invite you into the conversation of thinking at a different level.  Thinking strategically.

We are also looking for leaders who have really a sound academic background.  Not only is it an academic fundamental platform that you’re on, but we wanna make sure, as I mentioned earlier, that you’re able to apply that.  That you’re able to go back to the workplace the next morning in some cases and try that out in your own work environment to make a change or make a difference.

One of the things that I say to our students is that when you go through this program, from day one is that when you walk into your office that next day after your first lecture, after your first year, after your second year, we want there to be a very perceptible difference about how you approach problems and who you are as a healthcare leader.  So ultimately that’s what we’re looking for.  That’s the kind of leader that can apply what we’re giving them.

We wanna make sure we have leaders and what we need in terms of leaders now are individuals who understand what the critical priories are.  I mentioned them earlier.  Quality is certainly important, patient engagement and patient satisfaction is important, and certainly sufficiency, the economics are three of the critical priorities.  There are others, but certainly those are the things that are very, very important in healthcare.

Lastly I would just say that we are in need of leaders who are reader to assume responsibility for our healthcare delivery system.  Now when I say responsibility, I also mean accountability.  I want them to assume responsibility and accountability before developing a new healthcare delivery model to address this emerging healthcare need in our US delivery system.

We all have heard that we have 32 to 42 million people integrated into our system and we’ve got 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 everyday, that’s putting tremendous pressure on our healthcare delivery system.  How are we going to address it?  Is it gonna be through innovation?  We need leaders that are gonna think about that.  Is it gonna be through telemedicine?  Is it gonna be through telehealth?  You’re gonna be challenged to think through those issues in the case studies that we present to you.

To sum up, those are the kind of leaders that we’re looking for.  Strategic, visionary leaders.  People who are passionate, taking responsibility and accountability.  Those are the kinds of folks that we are looking for to get into our program.  With that I will pass the torch back over, unless you want me to go further to the next slide.

I think the next slide talks about what career opportunities exist for executives in healthcare administration.  One of the things about the fact that we are in a change in our healthcare delivery system, it has also created tremendous opportunities for our healthcare executives.  There are now more integrated delivery systems.  There are now more new, innovative models.  Clinically integrated networks, the CINs that are developing all over the country.  That’s creating opportunities for strong, visionary, strategic leadership.  So there are some opportunities and we’ve seen our graduates grab onto those opportunities when they want to take responsibility.  There is tremendous amount of opportunities because of the way the system if developing.

Again, there are some new positions that are related to healthcare innovation.  It is not unusual to have an organization have a few vice presidents of innovation or healthcare innovation, a few vice presidents of telemedicine and telehealth, because those are major initiatives.  Senior vice president of quality.  Also we’re seeing more and more positions available for our physicians, our clinical providers who enter into the program.  Because we are looking more at quality, we’re looking for stronger leaders who have a strong, clinical background and they can actually affect change.  They can actually impact the providers that exist in the system.  We’re also looking for medical foundation presidents.  There is staff that’s available, physicians that are available, that our graduates can have an opportunity to compete for.

We have a great reputation.  We have a very sound program and we know that we’re gonna well equip you to take on that leadership role.  I mentioned earlier that not only do we want you to set up the executive table, but we’re looking for you to take on a strong leadership role that’s deeply rooted in the academic program that we have here and the application of those academics to the real world.  Those are some of the positions that are available.

Of course there are some other traditional – there’s some hospital president positions, there’s some outpatient executive positions as we move more toward outpatient care, but all of those are available.  This opens up a wide range of opportunities for our graduates.  So I will say that in closing and I will turn it over to our advisor.

Yesenia: Thank you so much Professor Chen and Professor Harris.  Really appreciate it.  Now we’re gonna open up the Q&A for all of our students.  One question that I do wanna answer – there’s a question here: is there on site visits?  Yes, there is.  That is our residencies.  They are absolutely mandatory, absolutely required, which professor Harris – I know that you actually are very involved in these residencies.  Can you maybe speak a little of those residencies?  What can students expect throughout those five day residencies?

Dr. Harris: Our residencies are designed to challenge our executives to come into the program.  They’re gonna spend five very intense days and we wanna make sure that the knowledge you received in the first year – that there is live application of it.  We wanna make sure.  We’ll give some case studies where you’re able to apply that information to the case study and solve a real-world problem in healthcare, a real live – we’ll use current case studies to say, “Now apply it.”

One good example of that is how do you build a high performance team?  As I mentioned earlier, you can’t do it by yourself.  How do you go about building a high performance team?  We will actually go on site to an integrated delivery system and understand the challenges that they’re going through so that you can actually see a model in work.  It’s an intense time.  I will tell you that our students often say during the program, “What did I get myself into?” during the first night and then on the last day they say, “This was a great experience.  I’ve learned a great deal.  I’ve bonded, I’ve networked with my cohort members,” and they’ve had a great time.  So it is a pleasant experience but it is absolutely mandatory and it’s absolutely something that we want you to apply yourself.  We require 100 percent of your concentration during that period.

Yesenia:  Thank you Profess Harris and yes.  I cannot stress that enough, how many students have come back to say how much they enjoyed the residencies.  They’re actually always asking for more residencies believe it or not, so we’ll see where that goes.  Also you mentioned something regarding networking.  A lot of students are always wondering, “How much networking am I actually doing in the online environment?” I always tell students there’s actually more networking opportunities than you might even imagine just because you always have access to every student that’s enrolled in the program.  Can one of you maybe go beyond that and maybe say how students are able to network easily online?

Dr. Harris: I will start by saying that the networking opportunities come in the way of online and come in the way of some of the class assignments.  So we will put groups together to work on a class project and they get very much involved although they’re online.  They get very much involved and they understand who they’re working with.  They get to know those individuals very well and then it kinda culminates when they come to the Executive in Residence and all of a sudden they get to meet and greet that person in real life.  What’s interesting about it is they already know the character of that person, they already know who they are because they’ve worked with them so intensely online.

I also wanna stress that networking happens when we go on our site visits.  I know that I make a deliberate point of making sure that I introduce our Executive in Residence to the leadership of the hospital system.  In fact, we even have them do some of the presentations and thank you’s to that leadership.  If a student is saying something we’re struggling at our hospital system, it looks like they have it all together, then we’ll put the two of those together.  We’ll make that connection for them.

So we’re very strong on making sure that there is a good networking connection throughout the program.  It is not above – last year we took a couple of students to HealthCare Partners who said they were interested in that entity and I took them to lunch with some of the leadership at HealthCare Partners and they got to talk to them and talk about their issues, etc.  In fact one of our graduates right now is part of their executive team as a result of that luncheon meet.

Prof.  Chen: Yeah, I might also add in addition to the residencies that are of course very important and great opportunities for networking, I think just on a more basic level in the online setting it might not be as foreign as you might imagine so often times there’s video cameras, you can see each other.  Most classes start with an introduction of just the students in it.  Different classes will have different sections and so you get to really know the students in your section, so your peers essentially.

I think that also really helps in addition to the group projects that are done.  Fear not, not all projects are group projects, but there are opportunities, I think, to work as a group.  There’s guest lectures.  I know Paul Ginsburg also, one of my colleagues here at USC, teaches the EMHA for health economics and so you get to network also with guest speakers, even in the online setting.

Yesenia:  Thank you so much.  I’m glad that you mentioned that.  We had a question actually if there’s a lot of group work in the program.  Of course our students have to know that yes there is group work.  Not every single class might have group work.  It will change.  Every class is different.  It’s just depending on the course content, the subjects for the class.  Yes, there is group work.

Then let’s see here, another question is if the program is geared for individuals who are working full-time.  Absolutely.  Yes, it is.  Really, I would say most of our students, if not all of them, are working full-time.  It’s really important that our students are actively, currently working in the field in order for them to stay relevant and be successful in the program.  Believe it or not, yes.  Our students are full-time and a lot of them, in fact, the majority of them, are even attending full-time.  Just so that you can get a snap picture of that, it is taking two classes a semester, six credit hours, and our semesters are 15 weeks long.  They’re not going to be accelerated, they are 15 weeks long.

Professors, do you feel that students tend to prefer that 15 week long semester as opposed to maybe someone who’s attended an accelerated program where the class were only five to eight weeks long?

Dr. Harris: I’ll start by just saying that I think 15 weeks is the right magical time line because I think if we were shorter, it would be too intensive.  This gives the students a chance to move through the data, move through the curriculum at a reasons pace given that they are working full-time.  So I think we have the right magical number of weeks.

The other thing I want to just add to something that you said about working full-time, I have had many students come back and say, “The topic that we’ve been talking about is something that we’re struggling with at work and I now have a really strong foundation in having a strong conversation with our leadership or being able to kinda lead that conversation.” So they’ve come back with words of praise and while this was so timely to what we’re trying to address in our organization.  I think working adds another dimension to the program for us, for them to be able to apply it.

Prof.  Chen: Yeah, I agree with everything that –  Dr Harris, you mentioned.  I too have had students come back and sort of tie in work with class and it’s great ‘cause not only does it show you that the things that you’re learning are relevant, but also that you can share these experiences with your peers.  You learn together in that type of way.  I think the intensive structure – some of these topics take time to digest and so it’s hard when doing it in a five day or five week type of structure to really be able to digest some of the things that are being discussed.

Yesenia: Thank you, I have to agree on that.  Then we have another question, if there’s a thesis in the program.  It is not a thesis.  Our students do complete a capstone towards the end of the program.  Can any of you elaborate more on the capstone projects perhaps?

Dr. Harris: I can say a few words about it.  The capstone project and the capstone residency is designed much like the first residency but the intent is to make sure that you finished nearly two years of the program.  We wanna make sure that the knowledge base is there and that the application is there.  So once you get towards the end, we bring you in residence, you have another opportunity for networking, but you have yet another opportunity to apply and demonstrate that you understand the concepts that we’ve taught throughout the program.  It’s kind of like pulling it all together.  It’s kind of bringing it to a close of making sure you really get what we’ve said about the program and what we’ve taught throughout the program.

I was gonna say something else, but it’s escaped me.  But I’ll let Dr. Chen say a few words.

Prof.  Chen: I think you actually summed it up pretty well.  I have not much to add in this area.

Yesenia: Okay, thank you.  I have a question from someone.  How does someone who has been in healthcare for 20 plus get into the program?  Well, I would say that you would be the ideal candidate for the program depending on experience, but just so everyone knows the requirement for the application itself would be three professional letters of recommendation, you want your letter of intent which would be your statement of purpose, you will want all official transcripts, your resume as detailed as possible really painting a picture of what you do in healthcare, and then of course the application itself.

Then we have another question here.  MBA versus MHA.  Very popular question that I get on a daily basis, I would have to say.  There’s a lot of differences.  Would either one of you care to elaborate on that?

Dr. Harris: Sure.  I’m always going first.  Does Dr. Chen want to go first?  I’ll happily just end, but I want to be respectful.

Prof.  Chen: Sure, I don’t mind either way.  So with an MBA background I think maybe I can speak to more of the MBA side and sort of give you a picture of the differences.  Healthcare as an industry is very particular.  There is no other industry like it.  I think the ways in which the healthcare industry is changing is very different than how other industries are changing.  The, sort of, forces at work, the legislation and the reforms, are all very specific to healthcare.  I think what you get from the MHA is a leadership management operations organization type of perspective particular to health.

That may seem obvious, but I think the differences are actually quite dramatic.  I think if you wanna be in the healthcare industry, it’s important to know about the industry and its particulars.  So I think that’s the benefits of doing an MHA relative to an MBA.  I don’t know, Dr. Harris, if you want to add something to that?

Dr. Harris: Yeah, just to mimic what you said, healthcare is rather unique.  It plays a very prominent role in our whole economic system.  In our MHA program, we are looking at concepts that are very specific to healthcare.  I think if you’re looking at an MBA program, there’s nothing wrong with that, but I don’t believe that it is going to adequately address how you need to provide leadership in a health industry because we are so different, because we are so unique, because we are transforming, because we are trying to rebuild a sustainable mode.  You’re not gonna get that focus in a traditional MBA program.  We are very specific as to how we go about exposing and teaching our students.

Yesenia: Thank you so much.  Then there’s a question regarding the online platform.  So just so everyone knows, this is not the online platform by far, it is not.  We do use Moodle, which maybe something some students have heard of, mostly probably have not.  It’s just a platform that really allows students to really be able to network and just know that your classes will have a sense of an actual class.  You still have your course syllabus and you’ll even have lectures, which both of our professors do hold on a weekly basis, would you say usually?

Dr. Harris: Yes.

Prof. Chen: Yes, I do mine on a weekly basis.

Yesenia: Yes, so it’s very interactive and of course, do you have any feedback about what the students might be saying about the online platform because when I’ve spoken to students, they really do enjoy the online platform.  It’s very easy to follow.  They know when their assignments are due, everything is due on Trojan time.  Do you hear any kind of feedback from the students of this online platform compared to others that they may have used in the past?

Dr. Harris: I have not had a lot of students who’ve had exposure to other platforms, but I’ve not had a lot of negative remarks regarding our online.  In fact, it’s been the contrary.  They’re very interactive, they can raise their hand, their electronic hand that is.  We encourage them to be engaged.  We’re really big on that during our program and during our classes.  I want to hear from them.  That’s how I understand and get the character of who they are.  I think it’s been good for the students.

The only thing I will remind our students of is that when we are – I always remind this and it’s kinda my little joke with our students, is that remember when we have our webcams on?  I can see you and you can see me, so you wanna always be mindful of what’s in your background.  It’s a very interact program, and I think our students enjoy it, and they get to know each other.  I think Dr. Chen mentioned that they get to see their colleagues and they understand who they are.  You can look down at the chat and you can tell that they’ve been networking with each other by some of the comments that they make.  It’s been a pleasant experience.

Prof.  Chen: Yeah, I think I might also add I haven’t had students use other platforms before but I did experiments with my class where I prerecorded lecture videos and they’re sort of short lecture videos.  You can watch them whenever you want.  They’re all uploaded online and we still meet weekly in person, or online in person I guess you could all it, sessions where we talk about the material.  I told my students if this doesn’t work, we’re gonna get rid of it and we’ll just do it all online together, but the feedback that I got was by far, I think everyone loved the videos.

It’s in part because it caters to working and doing online classes at the same time where in your 15 minute spare time at some random time of day, you can just watch a video and learn something.  Then when we come together you’ll have a better understanding of what we’re talking about.  I think that’s a benefit of the online learning system that’s often overlooked.

YeseniaThank you both so much.  We just wanna wrap it up, so any final thoughts Professor Chen or Profess Michael Harris?

Dr. Harris: I’m just gonna say that we’re looking forward to having a new cohort of students come in.  They add to the dimension and the depth of the program.  So we’re there to serve them and to make sure that they get a sound platform education on healthcare.  So we’re here for them.  We’re available as we would be if they were on campus, you know?  We have access points for them to talk to us online and after class, so I think they’ll see that it’s a pleasant experience.

Yesenia:  Thank you so much.  Also we do apologize, Dr. Nichol, he ran into a few technical difficulties, but he’s very excited for the new cohort coming into the program.  We do work very closely with one another in prequalifying students, so if this something you are absolutely seriously considering, by all means work on your resume, have that sent into me, we will work on getting you pre-qualified as early as possible.  Our spring term does begin January 6th.  Any other specific questions that you might have, we’re still available.  I can still answer those questions for you and I will be sure to reach out to you.  Once again, thank you so much for you time.  Enjoy the weekend.

Thank you again Professors Chen and Harris.

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