Developing a Brain for Business: Scaling The Neurology Foundation, Syed Rizvi EMHL ’16

We all know about the regulatory changes that are driving small medical practices to close up shop and join larger care centers. Less discussed are the pressures placed on these larger entities as they work to absorb new medical professionals and advance the quality, access, and affordability of healthcare.

In the following interview, Dr. Syed Rizvi, Brown Executive Master in Healthcare Leadership (EMHL) Alum 2016, shares how his EMHL experience prepared him to scale a neurological practice to meet these new demands. Dr. Rizvi is the director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center at The Neurology Foundation which supports the missions of Brown Medical School and Rhode Island Hospital in patient care, medical education and neuroscience research.

Why did you join EMHL?

Doctors go to medical school because we want to learn how to help and heal people. We graduate prepared to treat diseases but lacking in business management skills that are key to scaling medical practices in an era of healthcare reform. This became apparent to me as The Neurology Foundation sought to expand in response to consolidating industry forces. We simply didn’t have the in-house business acumen to grow the profession and at the same time realize greater efficiencies in light of shrinking reimbursements. I chose Brown’s EMHL program because it offered an MBA curriculum customized for practitioners committed to advancing the Triple Aim (quality, affordability, and accessibility) in today’s highly regulated and changing healthcare industry.

How did EMHL prepare you to manage growth at The Neurology Foundation?

Like most medical practices, The Neurological Foundation had gotten by without ever having to do a deep dive into our data to optimize management practices. Due to a changing regulatory environment, this was a luxury that we could no longer afford. EMHL’s focus on theory and practice gave me the opportunity to build this institutional capacity. I focused my Critical Challenge Project (CCP) on the development of a strategic plan to improve efficiencies and productivity at our foundation. Each course gave me the opportunity to test drive ideas by applying them to my own case study.

Personally, I benefitted most from the healthcare finance course. We worked in teams throughout the module analyzing different cases to come up with real-world solutions. Lessons learned from these exercises – and workshopped with professionals from across the healthcare industry – were directly applicable to my CCP and resulted in a productivity-based incentive plan and employee and patient satisfaction surveys.

What was the end result?

My CCP guided The Neurology Foundation in its accommodation of a near doubling of medical professionals, and optimization of resources to deliver a higher quality of care. But our work isn’t done. Healthcare reform will define our sector for the foreseeable future. The grounding I received in business management at EMHL will continue to guide my work as we move forward in an uncertain future.

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