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25TH Year of Health Administration Field Studies Course

For the 25th year, the Health Administration (HA) Field Studies Course is taught by Dr. Errol Biggs and has paired graduate students with Denver area healthcare organizations, for the benefit of both the student and the organization. The objective of this course is to expose students to health care organizations with which they are not familiar. Each student is assigned to a health care organization and given a specific problem or project to complete.

The students provide their assigned organizations with their enthusiasm, fresh eyes, creativity, and recently acquired theoretical knowledge, while the organizations provide the students with the opportunity to apply that knowledge to the real world of healthcare.

During the Spring, 2015 semester, the Health Administration Field Studies Course was completed by 20 Students.

MBA Health Administration Student Joshua Perrin was one of the students to take the course last spring, working with the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VA). He provided his experience with the course and with Dr. Biggs.

On what he did while working with the VA:

“There is a growing demand for The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) outpatient surgery procedures.  While the demand is increasing at a rapid pace due to demographic changes within the VA the internal surgical capacity is capped.  Sufficient to say the current hallmark of the VA system is marked by high demand and short supply.  The aforementioned lack of capacity has historically been filled by utilizing third parties to perform the surgeries that the VA cannot perform due to capacity limitations.  These third party vendors operate on a fee for service basis with the VA and are reimbursed accordingly.”

“Currently, many outpatient surgeries are being performed at the VA, these surgeries tie up operating rooms and capacity that could be better utilized for more complex procedures.  In addressing the growing need and concern to reduce wait lines for surgical procedures while also maintaining continuity of care as well as decreasing costs the VA has decided to pursue the utilization of third party surgery facilities for their low RVU cases.  This process would also I include using VA physicians and support staff, versus using fee based care.  This study has been performed to address the issue of increasing ambulatory surgical capacity via a third party facility while still using our physicians as well as support staff.  A dyadic approach was employed to find the most effective and efficient method for moving these low RVU ambulatory cases outside of the VA.”

“First I contacted surgery centers, both for profit and not for profit, in the greater Denver area in the attempt to lease out operating space.  This approach was ill-received so I retooled my pitch to these surgery centers.  Instead of looking to actually lease out operating room space I now positioned my approach from the point of looking to see if I could set up a contract or a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a hospital or surgery center.  If successful I would be able to get our physicians credentialed with their organization so that they could have privileges at, and use of their facilities.  This approach garnered far more favor and traction.”

“Over a dozen facilities were contacted throughout the vetting process and the results of the meetings with each facility are enumerated in this body of work.  An ideal organization and partnership was identified as a result of these efforts and the appropriate contract is in place that will afford the VA the access and availability that it desires.  The results and the methodology that are presented here may prove useful in the future in dealing with the VA’s   projected shortfalls in capacity.  Many of the relationships that have been established through the research presented here are expected to continue for the foreseeable future, which in turn should lead to the desired increase in ambulatory capacity for our country’s veterans.”

On having Dr. Biggs as an instructor:

“Students could not ask for a more accomplished and equipped instructor to lead this course.  I am unsure of how many people know this, but Dr. Biggs was a highly successful CEO over many healthcare systems in Colorado prior to crossing over into the world of academia.  His years of experience working in the field are invaluable to students who take his course as his knowledge allows him to find organizations that best fit the student’s specific areas of interest and align with their values as well.”

“Dr. Biggs is a proponent of students having access to him as a resource at all times.  He freely hands out his cell number to all students and is known for his willingness to answer calls at all times of the day.  This unprecedented level of access lets his students know just how committed he is to their success in this course.”

“In regards to the student’s success in the course Dr. Biggs holds both the student and the sponsoring organization mutually accountable to their agreed upon commitments.  This shared accountability and mandated reciprocity ensures that both parties realize a high return on their investment.”

On what he took with him from the course: 

“Prior to this course I had absolutely no exposure or cross-pollination into the working world of healthcare.  Not only did this course provide me with a depth and breadth of knowledge that I would not have had otherwise, but it also helped to reaffirm that I truly enjoy working in healthcare and that I had made the right career choice.”

“The field-study course is not a perfunctory “check off the boxes” class, rather it is a job where the student is counted on as a healthcare professional to help organizations decipher and articulate how to deal with issues such as increasing patient access, lowering costs or increasing the quality and delivery of care.  I cannot think of a more important course for emerging or currently employed healthcare employees to take.”

Any student interested in the Health Administration Field Study Course, or in the Health Administration program should contact Errol Biggs at 303-315-8851, or errol.biggs@ucdenver.edu.