The President’s Desk

Contributor: Maria Whitman, WG’05
To learn more about Maria, click here.


Maria_Whitman.jpgThis summer I found myself reflecting often on the experience of healthcare. I guess it started while I prepared a keynote talk on driving better customer experience in oncology for one of my biopharma clients. I wanted my audience to feel something… to make real the needs and expectations of the people on the other end of the work they do. It led me to reflect a bit more broadly on how the very expectations of customer experience have evolved so greatly today in every aspect of our lives. Today, we expect experiences: 

  • Fast (think instant streaming; 2-day Prime delivery, etc.)
  • Customized (through AI recommendations; products suited to exactly the configuration I want)
  • Seamless (everything happens as it should… no hiccups, please)
  • Easy 

So why would we expect anything different from our healthcare? I will admit I have been pleasantly surprised in some recent interactions. Being a Wharton alum, I will call out a great recent experience at CHOP with my son, where each stage of the experience seemed to think of everything, not only for my peace of mind, but to occupy a tired and active 1 year old. Contrast that with the sad experience of what a family member just went through over a life-changing 3-week period of finding out he had cancer. Everything seemed so difficult - from having to identify and venture to different locations for multiple different tests due to insurance coverage to significant external research and friends and family support just to get to a second opinion and formal diagnosis quickly. And we are a family who knows healthcare. When Mayo Clinic approximates that 1 in 2 people will develop cancer in their lifetime, seems like an experience worth significant effort to better. It will not be easy, but it is a core reason I am here. And it is a hope that no matter which piece of the healthcare sector each of us touches, and how efficient and clinical we get in solving the challenges of the day, we always keep focus on the person at the end for whom the experience really matters. 

Experience is also something that has bound us together as alumni of a simply amazing program. That is why the Executive Committee has decided to make the theme of our work this year “Advancing our Community through Connections and Content.” We are working through plans across our committees, including membership, communications, and career development to enhance not only our experience, but opportunities to learn and growth with and through each other. 

And there is no better time to connect than at our annual WHCMAA Alumni conference, which is fast approaching on October 18th, 2019, “Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare.” Check out our list of outstanding speakers on our conference webpage. 

Don’t forget to join us at Branzino Restaurant the night before for the pre-conference alumni dinner. There you will have a chance to also meet some of our amazing Kinney and Kissick scholarship winners. This year, we awarded over $50,000 in scholarships. This is on top of the announcement you will have seen that the WHCMAA made a $100,000 donation to the Kinney Scholarship fund in June of this year. 

I actually had the pleasure to continue the tradition of WHCMAA presidents speaking to the incoming HCM MBA class a few weeks ago. I walked away energized by their enthusiasm, their questions, and their passion to improve healthcare in some very innovative ways. I hope you get a chance to meet and speak to them – if not at the conferences, then through the mentorship program or other events. It will make you proud of the ongoing work we are doing through our mission to support the program, our alumni, and through our collective passion, healthcare overall.

Kind regards, 

Maria Whitman, WG’05
President, Wharton Healthcare Management Alumni Association

Contact Maria at:
[email protected]
Twitter: @MariaWhitman