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Learning the Country of Health Care

Industry newcomer improves ability to be change agent

Derek Anderson
Vice President of Business Improvement at Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Vanderbilt MM Health Care 2014

Unlike many students in the MMHC program, Derek Anderson had a lot of business management experience. Health care, on the other hand, was relatively new for him.

With a background in the chemical and synthetic films and fabrics industry, Derek came to the Monroe Carell Junior Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in 2009. His mission, he says, was “to create transformational change.” Working with the hospital’s CEO and chiefs of surgery and pediatrics, Derek identifies programs important to the hospital’s mission, then implement changes that focus on performance improvement and change management.

He likens the $3 trillion industry he now inhabits to its own nation, noting that health care in the U.S. is larger than the entire GDP of all but four countries. “Learning the business fundamentals of health care is therefore no small feat,” says Derek. “To have all the business fundamentals integrated into a program focused on health care is quite unique and a perfect fit for someone trying to make a difference.”

From learning how to quantify the economic cost of making an error to better understanding his own competencies, skills, weaknesses and blind spots “with some of the best career coaches, tools and analytics you will hope to find,” Derek says that the MMHC program helped him make the difference he set out to make. While it can be “quite intimidating,” he says, to be surrounded by industry experts rather than industry generalists, it’s also quite rewarding.

“Everyone you meet in this program is ‘patriotic’ about health care,” he says. “If you are up for making an impact, this is impactful learning.”