The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

A fiery red dragon bares his claws and grimaces menacingly across the screen.

“You look across the horizon, and there is the dragon that’s going to eat the federal budget,” James Greenwood, the opening speaker for the 18th annual Wharton Health Care Business Conference, gestured to the slide and said. The conference began last Thursday night and ended on Friday evening at the Hyatt at the Bellevue.

The theme of this year’s conference was “Innovation in a Changing Health Care Environment.” Content Co-Chair Maggie Hill, a second-year Wharton MBA student, said many industry professionals, public officials and members of academia were happy to share ideas and network.

The theme of change was echoed throughout the panels and keynotes — from the opening address by Greenwood, a former Pennsylvania senator and current president and CEO of Biotechnology Industry Organization, to the closing remarks of Robert Pearl, executive director and CEO of The Permanente Medical Group.

“American health care has to change and will change,” Pearl said. “The cost of health care is simply not affordable … It grows twice as much as GDP. It is 18 percent of GDP this year and will be 36 percent by 2013.” He criticized the lack of cost-efficient systems and information technology in health care.

Pearl asked MBAs to take a step back and imagine they were “students from Mars.” “The fragmented system of care is no better than [the] 19th century cotton industry … We are going to have to change all that if we want to move America’s health care into the 21st century,” Pearl said.

Co-Chair of Operations Jennifer Lee, a second-year Wharton MBA student, said the highlight of the conference for her was meeting senior executives and hearing them ask questions at these talks.

The conference is completely student-run and remains the largest event in Wharton Health Care Management Department. The organizers said their motivation for the conference was to bring together current and future leaders of the healthcare field and to start a cross-disciplinary conversation.

“This is a $20 to $30 trillion problem,” Pearl said. “You’re the last great hope for America’s healthcare system. We may not get another chance in the history of this country.”

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.