Working Together to Bridge Business and Health Care
by Gabrielle Lacherza
Terri Spoltore has always been an advocate for learning. Three decades of nursing experience has led her to her current role as vice president of patient care services at Inspira Medical Center Woodbury/Mullica Hill. However, she still managed to prioritize furthering her education throughout her career by earning a master’s degree in nursing and completing her doctorate of nursing practice. Spoltore’s lifelong passion for learning prompted her to apply for a newly created program Inspira Health made available to employees: an Advanced Graduate Certificate through Saint Joseph’s Erivan K. Haub School of Business.
Spoltore was one of 15 individuals to be accepted into the program’s first cohort of students.
The Advanced Graduate Certificate program was created to bring together clinical and non-clinical employees — physicians, nurses and administrative leaders — for a unique higher education learning opportunity through a combination of online and in-person learning. The coursework structure was designed with employees’ personal and professional schedules at the forefront. Saint Joseph’s professors start each of the accelerated courses off with a full-day session with the students at one of Inspira Health’s hospital locations in South Jersey. The total curriculum consists of 12 graduate level credits that may be applied toward a full MBA degree at Saint Joseph’s.
“I try to take advantage of any opportunity that allows me to further my education and was attracted to the uniqueness of the Advanced Graduate Certificate,” says Spoltore. “Since my job is so clinically focused, this program allowed me to see things through a different lens. I was able to apply what I learned from my professors to my everyday job.”
Society has increased the demand for health care professionals and employees. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that a 17 percent job growth is expected for medical and health-service managers between 2014 and 2024.
Inspira Health’s senior leadership and Saint Joseph’s faculty strategically customize compelling course topics based on areas of strategic importance to the health system and the needs of health care’s ever-changing landscape. The six months of coursework eventually leads up to a group capstone project presentation. Each capstone project aims to provide concrete, practical solutions to help solve business problems.
“The state of health care requires professionals who are equipped to address the complex challenges facing our patients and community. Our partnership with Saint Joseph’s University enables our talented leaders to work together in new ways to improve the quality of care for our patients,” explains Alka Kohli, M.D. ’14 (MBA), executive vice president, chief population health and clinical officer at Inspira Health.
One of the innovative projects that has been implemented from the program is Inspira-Go, a non-emergent ground transportation solution. Spoltore was part of this capstone team.
Inspira-Go addresses patient transportation issues, while meeting all federal regulation guidelines. This solution was a direct response to high no-show rates for outpatient appointments, specifically occurring in critical service lines, including cardiology, radiology and oncology. Inspira Health utilizes a multidisciplinary in-house team to manage and track the ground transportation solution. Keeping the team in house was intentional: It helped create more jobs within their organization and allows for collaboration across many departments.
Inspira-Go has proven to be highly successful. The service experienced an 80 percent increase in ride volume in one year, growing from nearly 2,000 patient rides to a projected 3,600 in 2019.
For nearly 30 years, Saint Joseph’s has offered an exclusive industry-focused MBA designed for professionals in all areas of the health care and pharmaceutical industry. Faculty from the Departments of Management, Department of Decision & System Sciences and Pharmaceutical & Healthcare Marketing lead the students through the six-month program.
“The role of health care and the business of health care is one of the most dynamic categories in our economy and to have this opportunity to create an integrated business mindset along Inspira physicians and administrators is a privilege,” explains Terese Waldron, director of Executive MBA, Food Marketing MBA, and Pharmaceutical & Healthcare Marketing MBA programs at Saint Joseph’s.
This summer, a second cohort completed the program, bringing the total number of participants to 31.
The Advanced Graduate Certificate program’s value is demonstrated in many ways. “Our renowned faculty is energized by the hard work, growth and capstone project outcomes of these exceptional students,” Waldron adds. “It is a quadruple win for the patients, healthcare system, physicians and for Saint Joseph's.”
The Philadelphia Regional Institute for STEM Education (PRISE), of which Saint Joseph’s is a founding member, is a partnership among colleges in the Philadelphia area and focuses on STEM teacher recruitment, professional development and retention.
Launching in January, Saint Joseph’s new MBA curriculum allows students to specialize in whatever unique combination of skills and sector focus fits their current job and career goals through a stackable certificate model.