The Miami Herbert Business School Center for Health Management and Policy presented its 10th annual Business of Health Care Conference online on April 16. This year’s annual meeting was entitled Policy, Politics & the Pandemic – U.S. & Beyond. The live event included sponsor presentations and videos, breakout sessions, and three panel discussions showcasing health care leaders from around the world who addressed the following topics:

• Health and Economy in the Americas
• Policy and Patient Care: A View from Health Care Leaders
• Health Care in a Changing Political Landscape

Attended by over 1200 individuals worldwide, the event’s featured speakers included Alex Azar, former United States Secretary of Health and Human Services; Carissa F. Etienne, MD, Director, Pan American Health Organization; Julio Frenk, MD, President, University of Miami; Donna E. Shalala, former United States Secretary of Health and Human Services and former President, University of Miami; and Daniel Salas Peraza, MD, Minister of Health, Presidency of the Government of Costa Rica.

After brief introductions from the dean of the Miami Herbert Business School, John A. Quelch, Dr. Steven Ullmann, Director, Center for Health Management and Policy, Miami Herbert Business School and Julio Frenk, MD, the program launched its first panel discussion on Health and Economy in the Americas. Dr. Etienne served as moderator for this session which featured Dr. Salas Peraza, Minister of Health, Costa Rica, Enrique Paris, MD, Minister of Health, Chile and Daniel Salinas, MD, Minister of Health, Uruguay. Each panelist detailed the challenges faced in coping with the pandemic. Common themes emerged. For example, all speaker agreed that coordination and leadership were essential for success. Meanwhile, Dr. Peraza insisted that all social stakeholders needed to participate. Different levels of response by various public and private sectors created ongoing challenges. The dilemma between health and economy made some think that it would be best to prioritize one or the other. But what was really necessary was to go forward step by step with a focus on both goals, according to Dr. Paris. This panel delivered a valuable perspective on crisis management, health systems and government in 3 important Latin-American countries. In some ways their experience was very similar to that in the U.S. In others, it was vastly different.

The final segment of the program, entitled Health Care in a Changing Political Landscape, was introduced by Henri Ford, MD, dean of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. He emphasized that the devastating effects of the global pandemic have shined a spotlight on our health system. The crisis forged an unprecedented alliance between health care providers, scientists, pharma, government officials, insurers and legislators. This, in Dr. Ford’s opinions, was an unlikely and transformative collaboration. In fact, health care has now entered the center of the debate regarding our national strategic priorities. Alex Azar and Donna E. Shalala served on this panel.

Alex Azar and Donna Shalala

Having Dr. Shalala, who served under President Clinton and Mr. Azar, who served under President Trump on the same virtual stage was fascinating. Despite being from opposite sides of the political aisle, they had great rapport and the mutual respect was plain to see. Dr. Shalala opened the talk by noting that the U.S. healthcare system is a public/private partnership citing Medicare, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act and most recently Operation Warp Speed – a public/private partnership initiated by the United States government to facilitate and accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics. Mr. Azar then provided an intriguing, behind-the-scenes account of the initiative’s implementation and a blueprint for building future public/private partnerships.

The 10th annual Business of Health Care Conference offered diverse and experienced speakers who described in detail the current situation on the ground. Lessons learned during this crisis lead to a guardedly optimistic way forward during a challenging time. The vaccine, and its rapid roll-out in the U.S., gives many Americans hope that we are in the final chapters of the pandemic saga. According to Dr. Frenk, “There is much talk about a New Normal. But I believe we have a once in century opportunity to build a Better Normal.”

Editor’s Note: An article detailing the second segment of the program, entitled Policy and Patient Care – A View from Health Care Leaders, can be viewed here:
The Miami Herbert Business School offers several academic programs focused on health management including:

• Health Executive MBA (HEMBA) – A top-ranked, fast-track weekend program that prepares health care executives for new leadership roles across the industry
• Master in Health Administration (MHA) – A full-time, 12-18 month program that blends business fundamentals with health care specific topics and hands-on training
• MD/MBA – A program that prepares future physicians to run medical practices and assume other industry and policy leadership roles
• Undergraduate Specializations – Undergraduate students may seek majors and minors in health management and policy

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