Why MD + MBA=Improved Healthcare System (Part II)



As the demands of a rapidly changing healthcare system require doctors to be ever more business savvy, Costanzo “Zino” Di Perna, MD, and EMBA 15 (performing surgery above), sat down with us to discuss first, why he feels an MBA is important to his own professional success, and here, why it may be important for more MDs to add MBA diplomas to their office walls. 

Zino is the Medical Director for the Dignity Health Cancer Institute of Greater Sacramento, and a physician with Mercy Medical Group Inc. In his work as a thoracic surgeon, he handles about 500 cases a year and oversees a large practice. He is also a student in the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program.

Part II: Why it’s no longer enough to be an excellent physician

Q:  What do medical professionals need to know now that they didn’t used to?

A: In the current healthcare climate, it’s no longer enough to be an excellent physician. In order for our practices and hospitals to survive, we need to better understand the financials and the business models. The doctors – the ones who are actually in the trenches – need to be given more control over financial decisions. We’re also too siloed – each physician is focused on generating revenue in his or her own vacuum, but the overall result is that expenses become sky high. A lot of funds are wasted.      

Q:  We know that an increasingly complex healthcare system requires doctors to be more focused on the business side of their practices. How is that currently working?

A:  As physicians, we’re handling more and more cases, and we’re also expected to help with the administration and assume more directorship roles. However, physicians haven’t been trained in management, while many non-clinically trained administrators don’t fully understand the medical and clinical issues required to make optimized business decisions.

Q:  How will having doctors and nurses with integrated medical and business skills improve things?

A: Only doctors know what actually works in the operating or exam room. Their informed decisions could ultimately save money for Medicare and the larger healthcare system. Doctors need hybrid training so that we can understand both sides. Management training should be a requirement in medical school, if you think about it.

Q:  Why should medical professionals consider getting MBAs?

A:  Because it empowers them to take control and give their patients better care. Our current healthcare system is a profit-driven industry that has lost sight of the patient’s welfare – both medically and financially. 

With an MBA, the physician can not only build his or her practice, but can also grow within a new evolving healthcare business, which is changing daily.

—Kirsten Micklewait


Want to learn more about what it would be like to add an MBA to medical expertise? Learn more about the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program.

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About The Author

Susan is Director of Admissions for the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program. She has nearly twenty years of experience in marketing and advertising, having worked in several different industries including technology, travel, healthcare -- and many others from her media planning days at J. Walter Thompson where her clients included Chevron, Kaiser Permanente, Nestle, and Ford. She enjoys advising prospective students and guiding them through their personal MBA experience.