For some physicians, gaining a greater sense of the business behind the medicine is helpful to attract more business. For others, an MBA through the Indiana University Kelley School of Business helps them better manage their existing case load.
Praveen Rajanahalli, MD, MBA’16, was facing the latter issue in the family medicine practice where he was providing care in Greenwood, Indiana, when the patient case load “exploded” in 2009.
A native of India who spoke four dialects, Dr. Rajanahalli was becoming incredibly popular among the estimated 30,000 Indian-Americans living on the south side of Indianapolis.
“There was no way for me to control that volume and I began to experience a great deal of burnout,” he said. “I enjoyed my job very much. It was rewarding to see these patients getting better, but burnout will catch up with you eventually. Plus, every year, new laws added a new requirement, a new box to check on the electronic medical record, or a new process that took up more of my limited time. The more time I spent in front of the computer, the less time I spent with a patient.”
Along with the growing demands of ever-increasing physician responsibilities, Dr. Rajanahalli also felt like his medical expertise was often superseded by the computer and by insurance systems.
“When you fax a prescription to the pharmacy, they suggest a more cost-effective medication that may not even work. Ordering an MRI or ultrasound required time-intensive prior authorization,” he said.
Frustration built slowly as Dr. Rajanahalli, like many physicians, spent less time with patients, which affected patient satisfaction.
“I thought, what can I do to improve patient experience and treatment?”
Rajanahalli was looking for a way to create this balance, when another physician suggested he consider complementing his excellent patient communication skills with management skills gained from an MBA. With a greater ability to manage high-volumes of patients, perhaps Rajanahalli could approach medicine in a new way that avoided the frustrations and burnout. With the support of his senior leadership, Dr. Rajanahalli researched his options and discovered that the Kelley School of Business was located a short, 20-minute drive away and focused exclusively on physicians.
“I wanted a physician-only program because we think alike, we can understand each other’s challenges and specialties, and we’re able to provide more nuanced advice to one another,” he said. “If it were a class full of engineers, we may not as easily connect to the same shared perspective.”