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Crossing Borders

HMS and HBS share tools of strategic management at Harvard Dubai Center

The HMS Center for Global Health Delivery-Dubai has reached collaborators in 99 countries since launching in 2014. Image: HMS

From the vast open spaces of rural Siberia to the dense urban neighborhoods of Lima, Peru, the challenge is similar: how to best deliver effective health care to those who need it most.

This spring, Harvard’s medical and business schools convened 68 senior clinical, financial and administrative leaders from universities and health systems in 17 countries in Asia, Europe and the Americas at the HMS Center for Global Health Delivery–Dubai for a the three-day intensive course designed to teach the fundamentals of strategy and value measurement for global health care delivery.

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This course is one of the latest steps in a process that began when the center was launched two years ago. In that short time, faculty and staff have cultivated a program of diverse international research and education initiatives reaching 99 countries and bringing researchers, clinicians and students from around the globe together for collaborative research projects, symposia and educational programs.

The work involves a broad discussion of how to improve health outcomes for tuberculosis, diabetes and heart disease, mental health, global surgery, non-communicable disease and other challenges affecting countries around the globe, and then the design of strategic global health initiatives to tackle them.  

“This course is an exciting example of the kind of work we are doing at the center to address critical gaps in health care delivery,” said Salmaan Keshavjee, director of the Dubai center and associate professor of global health and social medicine at HMS.

The participants came with diverse experiences and perspectives, but shared a common goal. They came to learn strategy and value measurement techniques for global health care delivery.

“Bringing practitioners and policymakers together from countries as different as Sweden and Bangladesh and expert faculty from Harvard’s medical and business schools produced innovation in ways that none of us could have achieved individually,” Keshavjee said.

Working together as advisors for the course, Keshavjee and Robert S. Kaplan, the Marvin Bower Professor of Leadership Development Emeritus at Harvard Business School, oversaw the development of the curriculum.

“This course is an exciting example of the kind of work we are doing at the center to address critical gaps in health care delivery.” — Salmaan Keshavjee, director of the Dubai center and associate professor of global health and social medicine at HMS.

“The students learn how valid measurements of outcomes and cost empower caregivers to redesign delivery processes that will improve patients’ lives and well-being while consuming fewer societal resources,” Kaplan said. “It is a great example of the power of having medicine and management work together to produce innovations that lead to more effective and efficient health care.”

The program, which took place March 19-21, engaged participants in the analysis of case studies that described efforts to improve health care delivery in resource-poor settings, shining a light on how the principles and frameworks for the design of efficient and effective global health interventions might be applied to the distinct challenges faced in the resource-limited countries where most course participants practice.

Keshavjee and Kaplan enlisted faculty from both the medical school and the business school to teach the class: John Meara, HMS Kletjian Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine in the field of Global Surgery and professor of surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital; Joseph Rhatigan, associate professor of medicine at HMS and associate chief of the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Jonathan Warsh, an associate at McKinsey & Company and a former senior researcher at HBS; and Jens Deerberg-Wittram, an executive director at the Boston Consulting Group, the founding CEO of the International Consortium for Health Outcomes Measurement (ICHOM) and a former HBS senior fellow.

The HMS and HBS teams provided a wealth of international experience in building and managing surgical systems and hospitals, as well as in developing educational programs and teaching the science of health care delivery and management.

Students developed skills for measuring clinical outcomes and tracking costs, the two key factors that drive value. Course materials were assembled from programs taught across Harvard University, brought together specifically for health care delivery professionals.