Dr. Ghosh, Lifelong Learner
Add MBA to the long list of letters after Dr. Ghosh’s name. Last month, he earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Iowa. His family, friends and team members were there to cheer him on as he walked across the stage.
Dr. Ghosh completed the Executive MBA program, an accelerated curriculum aimed at professionals who are already leaders in their fields. Courses ran the gamut from finance and analytics to marketing and strategy. The program even took him to China to study business.
We talked with him about his experience.
Q. You’ve already achieved a number of milestones in your life and have a very busy schedule. Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?
A. Until recently, all my education was in medicine. I knew how to be a doctor, but nothing had prepared me to be a manager. When I started Iowa Blood and Cancer Care, I thought I could use what I’d learned about caring for people to run a business. I was wrong, and initially I made a lot of mistakes as an administrator.
My thinking was that an MBA would help me improve the care delivery process at The Ghosh Center. It already has. I have a different perspective of how the world works that is applicable not just to the office, but to home and everyday life. One of the things I learned was the importance of filtering all the decisions you make through a consistent set of mission, vision and values.
I also think we should continually seek new information and pursue advanced training. My kids know that education is important to me. I graduated with a 3.82, which showed them that I wasn’t just fooling around.
Q. What was one of the most challenging things about the program? How did you overcome it?
A. It was challenging to get back to a structured classroom setting. Each class required me to sit in one place for four hours and absorb lots of new material. The university assumed that each MBA student knew how to use a keyboard and was comfortable with Word, Excel and other business software. I didn’t have that background and had to get up-to-speed quickly.
Over time, I learned to master it. I wasn’t happy with the early grades on my papers of B+ and A-, but I soon moved on to straight A’s!
Q. What were some of your favorite classes?
A. I really enjoyed subjects that introduced me to new ideas, for example, all the mathematical formulas for determining the value of a business. I learned about macroeconomics and how the health of individual businesses links to the economic health of a country. I became a fan of Warren Buffett. His personal integrity is impressive to me. When it comes to negotiations, he gives and takes; he doesn’t bully or threaten.
Q. What new ideas did you take into your practice?
A. There were many, but here’s one example: The importance of looking at the process rather than at the person. When things go wrong, it’s not about laying blame. It’s about examining the issue objectively, understanding what happened and coming up with a way to prevent it from happening again.
We applied this to our billing system. If something fell through the cracks, we stepped back and figured out how to improve the system. This approach has led to significant improvements overall. It’s also created an environment where people feel free to speak up and share problems because they’re not worried about being penalized. It’s about working together for the greater good of the office and, ultimately, of our patients.
Q. Were there things you were already doing that your MBA training validated?
A. Absolutely. We were already doing many things instinctively that turned out to be best practice, such as making sure we provide care that patients can’t get anywhere else. In business terms, they talk about fulfilling a customer’s unmet needs, which to me is an essential truth when it comes to how you treat patients.
One of the things we learned was how to do a SWOT analysis, a strategic planning technique to identify internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats. I realized I’d applied this technique when I made the decision to open The Ghosh Center. I was at a crossroads in my life and thought about strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats in these terms:
Strengths: I had strong relationships with patients and a solid standing in the Cedar Rapids community, as well as support from colleagues I respected.
Weaknesses: I was getting older and still had responsibility for raising and providing for my family.
Opportunities: People were behind me all the way, pushing me to open a new practice, rallying the community, even creating a “Support Dr. Ghosh” Facebook group where patients shared stories of my impact on their lives. I realized that with this kind of support, The Ghosh Center could be successful.
Threats: These issues came from other healthcare organizations who were poised to discredit me and discourage patients from seeing me. This has happened, but it’s had no impact on patients finding their way to our center. And once they do, they tell us they’re very pleased with our care. We’ve been rated in the Top 1% for patient experience four years in a row* – to me, this is the ultimate proof that we’re on the right track.
Q. What will you do next?
A. There’s a wish list and then there’s a realistic list.
With the support of my team and patients, I’ve made The Ghosh Center a best practice in the country, and my wish is that someone who shares our philosophy of healthcare will join us to take it forward.
On the realistic side, I know that our current healthcare model – where large systems buy up small practices and secure the top physicians – makes this a difficult dream to achieve. So, I will continue to work for as long as I can and not leave my patients in the lurch. I owe everything I’ve achieved to them.
Q. Last question. What are you going to do for fun?
A. My bucket list includes a Rocky Mountain train ride through Canada. My wife and I will be travelling by train from Vancouver to Banff this month. So that’s next, and we’ll go from there.
*Press Ganey Guardian of Excellence Award
Graduation ceremony photos by Molly Kempf, Impact Photo / Joe Photo