SOM Students Attend Statewide Health Policy Forum

May 01, 2015

Reflections from Health Care MBA students Rose Desilets, Bob Dorman, and Karen Zoeller on the 2015 Massachusetts Student Health Policy Forum

Seven students represented Simmons College School of Management at the 2015 Massachusetts Student Health Policy Forum. The annual event aims to “make the policy process real.” Throughout the two days, 28 speakers from several healthcare-focused departments, centers and commissions across state government spoke to over 40 students studying medicine, policy and public health. The objectives of the forum were to unlock the black box of health policy; demonstrate the inner workings of state government; and highlight the interconnectedness across departments as they relate to health policy. Three Health Care MBA students share their experience, below.

Rose Desilets, HCMBA ‘16

This forum provided the opportunity to hear directly from the legislators and officials who create and enact policy. My classmates and I learned about how these leaders make key decisions, and how their decisions affect the larger health care environment. The forum also gave us the chance to gain experience interacting with high-level officials and discussing health care issues with experts in the field. One of the most rewarding aspects of the forum was meeting other students from Massachusetts who are studying health care, and learning their perspectives.

I came away from the forum with a greater appreciation for policy makers’ commitment to improving the health of Massachusetts’ residents, while containing cost growth. It was inspiring to hear about the work being done at all levels, from how the Department of Public Health promotes well-being, to how Medicaid and the HealthConnector ensure insurance coverage for residents of all income levels. Finally, I was interested to learn the roles played by the Center for Health Information and Analysis and the Mass Health Policy Commission in keeping costs in check. I am now better informed about health policy in Massachusetts, and look forward to seeing the results of the innovations discussed at the forum.

Bob Dorman, HCMBA ‘16

The highlights of the Forum were listening to the Executive Directors of both the Health Policy Commission (HPC) and the Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA). Both of these groups were formed as a result of Chapter 224: An act improving the quality of health care and reducing costs through increased transparency, efficiency and innovation. These two groups are focused on cost containment and quality outcomes in healthcare. CHIA has access to the ‘All Payer Claims Database’, which is a massive data warehouse containing information on all healthcare expenditures in Massachusetts. The questions that can be answered from the data in this warehouse are endless and will go a long way in improving the healthcare system in the Commonwealth.

At the end of the two days, I realized how fortunate I was to live in Massachusetts. We led the way with Healthcare reform in 2006 and continue to lead the way with legislation such as Chapter 224. I also realized that our work is just beginning, and that it will take a village, especially people like myself in a healthcare-focused Graduate program, to truly achieve all the potential our healthcare system has to offer. I went into this Forum not knowing much about health policy in Massachusetts, and I left with a much better understanding and a feeling of encouragement knowing that we have the resources it will require to truly achieve the triple aim of improved healthcare outcomes at a lower cost.

Karen Zoeller, RN, HCMBA ‘16

The 2015 Health Policy Forum, sponsored by the Heller School of Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University, was a two-day immersion into the process of crafting health policy in, and for, our Commonwealth. Having the opportunity to meet state legislators and their dedicated teams, top directors of our state’s most important health service departments, and the bright, thoughtful, enthusiastic leaders at the forefront of Massachusetts health policy was exciting and highly motivating.

I gained a greater appreciation for the historic role our state has played, and continues to play, in improving the health systems for all of its citizens, and was especially impressed by the opportunities that good data (CHIA) will provide our leaders going forward. Because higher costs don’t usually equal better quality, Massachusetts’ health policy leaders are committed to improving access to care, mandating improvements to the quality and the cost of that care. Learning the process of policy formulation directly from our state’s top leaders was a great opportunity. Additionally, I had the chance to meet students from a number of area programs with an extensive array of policy and health system interests. Would definitely recommend participating!

SOM students attend statewide health policy forum

Photo: (Left to right, back row): Professor Michael Doonan of Brandeis, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Health Policy Forum, Professor Robert Coulom, Karen Zoeller, Robert Dorman, (front row): Camille Vasquez, Maylisa Hazelwood, Ashley George, Rose Desilets, Blerina Rista.