University of Dallas alumni distinguished for their work in the healthcare industry addressed questions on September 9, 2015, about the future of healthcare as part of UD’s “Transformation, Innovation and Ethics” series. The panel, led by CHRISTUS Health CEO Ernie Sadau, was composed of physicians and business leaders with unique insights into the challenges facing large hospital systems and individual practitioners alike. “The role of the physician is changing in the U.S.,” said Dr. Brannon Marlowe (BS ’89), an anesthesiologist. “As physicians, we need to learn how to adapt to change in this new system.”
Karin Grantham (MBA ’93), retired Vice President of Global Medical Solutions with Johnson & Johnson agreed: “There are big problems out there that need to be solved and we have to develop partnerships among the constituents involved in healthcare.”
Chief among the topics that panelists said could “keep them up at night” were the implications of the Affordable Care Act. “There are three components to a healthcare system: Cost, quality and access. Pick any two, but you can’t have all three,” said Marlowe. Dr. Irving Prengler (MBA ’00), Chief Medical Officer of Baylor Scott & White, added that, as a physician, he wants everyone to have access to care. “But can we afford to pay for that?” he said. “I don’t know.”
Dr. Donna Sue Dolle (BA ’89), a general internist practicing under a concierge medicine model, said that many of the problems people blame on the Affordable Care Act have been around for a long time. “Ninety percent of our woes were around way before the ACA,” she said.
One area in which panelists had different insights was on the use of technology. Grantham highlighted various innovations in telemedicine and wearable diagnostic technology as advancements that could improve both costs and patient care in the future. The physicians on the panel acknowledged the importance of innovation but stressed the need for face-to-face care as the gold-standard of medicine. “Nothing can replace my ability to look at my patient and to hear my patient directly,” Dolle said.
Prengler agreed that while innovations are exciting, they must be backed by solid outcomes before they can be incorporated in the standard of care. “Telemedicine can’t just be another avenue for a doctor to prescribe antibiotics for a virus,” he said, acknowledging the pressure physicians often feel from patients to prescribe medication when none is actually needed.
Sadau asked the panel in closing, “If you could go back and chose another career, would you?” Despite the challenges each faces in the healthcare industry, all acknowledged that, given the opportunity, they would again choose the same path that led them to healthcare as a career.
The University of Dallas’ Transformation, Innovation and Ethics series is an expert panel series in which alumni leaders host discussions on the future of business. The purpose of TIE is to bring together alumni, administration, students and faculty to discuss a rapidly transitioning world and ways in which to innovate and manage that change in an ethical manner. For more information, click here.