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Innovation at the Heart of Healthcare: Dr. Gregory Fretz on the Power of EDHEC's EMBA

Expert interview with Dr. Gregory Fretz, Head of Poliklinik KSGR in Switzerland and EDHEC Executive MBA candidate.

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13 May 2024
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Innovation at the Heart of Healthcare

We recently sat down with Gregory Fretz, a senior doctor and head of a Medical Polyclinic in Switzerland, to learn more about why he chose EDHEC's Executive MBA with a specialisation in Healthcare Innovation & Technology. Read on to discover more about the huge shifts and challenges facing the healthcare sector and how an MBA can help healthcare professionals tackle them.  

Gregory oversees the Medical Polyclinic in a medium-sized hospital in eastern Switzerland. Under the umbrella of internal medicine, this department primarily focuses on outpatient treatments. The clinic operates on three main fronts: providing consultations; administering infusion therapies to patients with diverse conditions; spanning neurological and inflammatory diseases; and conducting various interventions for both in and outpatients, specialising in procedures like biopsies and placement of drains. For his Executive MBA, Gregory has chosen to move to Paris with his whole family for a year.  

 

Why is an Executive MBA useful for healthcare professionals? 

 

 

EDHEC: Gregory, why is an Executive MBA useful for healthcare professionals? 

 

Gregory: As a healthcare professional overseeing a clinic, department, or ward, managing many issues related to team leadership, communication, and operational challenges is inevitable. Proficiency in understanding data helps to handle these complex healthcare scenarios. 

So there are many good reasons to get an MBA: as a background, to understand the hospital processes better in order to improve efficiency on every level. It benefits the healthcare team and, perhaps most importantly, the patients.   

 

EDHEC: Why did you choose EDHEC's EMBA HIT specifically? 

 

Gregory: The combination of foundational business knowledge and the Healthcare Innovation and Technology track fits well with my areas of interest, so it was a perfect match. I always work with medical professionals, but I wanted fresh input from different industries because that broadens my horizons and provides new perspectives.  

It’s exciting because I was interested in getting a wider spectrum of knowledge. The healthcare sector as a whole is vast. It is growing and promising in many aspects, but on the other hand, there are multiple challenges, and it's especially helpful to have a background in finance in order to understand the issues.    

Meeting the admissions team, and the EMBA Programme Director, validated my choice of school and programme. I also consulted alumni stories on the web, where they described their experience and its positive impact of the programme on their professional lives.  

 

 

Discover the Healthcare Innovation & Technology EMBA

 

 

EDHEC: How do you organise life, work, and studies? 

 

Gregory: I'm currently living in Paris while working for my hospital, mainly through video consultations as I have done before. I have special consultations for patients with fatigue, chronic fatigue syndrome, or long COVID, so I'm continuing to do that with the support of some specialised nurses who are back in the hospital. I, sometimes, return to do an emergency shift or work one or two days in my clinic. I have an excellent senior doctor who is now in charge, and we are in regular communication. She is doing a fantastic job, so that's why this works in  the first place. 

 

What are the major shifts that the healthcare sector faces? 

 

 

EDHEC: What are some of the significant shifts the healthcare sector faces? 

 

Gregory: Major tech companies, including Apple, Google, Microsoft, and even Amazon, are increasingly entering the healthcare market. Understanding these dynamics is crucial if we are to adapt to the challenges we will face in the future. Healthcare traditionally resists rapid change, often rightly so, due to feasibility concerns related to resources and financing.  

However, the sector faces major shifts driven by AI and deep learning that will transform various medical specialisations. It is essential to be prepared for their effective implementation in hospitals, and the EDHEC MBA HIT can provide valuable insights and competencies that support this integration. 

 

EDHEC: Can you share some concrete examples of the impact of new healthcare entrants and the new technologies becoming available?  

 

Gregory: One example of innovation in healthcare is the integration of data analytics and artificial intelligence by major corporations; for example, the use of smartwatches for continuous health monitoring. In specific models, these devices continually gather critical patient data, such as heart rate, sleep stages, and even electrocardiograms (ECG). The substantial volume of data collected is then used to develop and refine algorithms, potentially revolutionising the experience for smartwatch users.  

This evolution poses significant implications for the healthcare system. Imagine a user presenting with a smartwatch that indicates a possible arrhythmia. The reliability and clinical validation of these readings require further evaluation and raise critical questions about the integration of consumer health technology within the traditional healthcare framework. 

Developments like these signals a shift in the traditional boundaries of the healthcare sector. Historically, the domain was predominantly occupied by pharmaceutical companies and hospitals, collaborating and conducting research. However, we now see an influx of diverse industries venturing into healthcare, blurring the lines between conventional medical practice and other sectors. 

Our programme is intended for experienced Executives we're looking to complement their technical scientific legal or  medical expertise with a 360° view of a company structure

The main goal of our participants is to access C-level positions as we all know the healthcare sector is currently undergoing a deep transformation driven by advancements in Tech and digital integration as a strategic and significant sector with substantial economics influence, healthcare faces escalating competitive pressures. The emergence of Big Data AI robotics iot, just to name a few, has revolutionised every aspect of the sector's value Chain.

By offering a healthcare Innovation and Technology track we address the inherent needs of EMA candidates in this field with the evolving demands of Industry leaders.

 

The programme supported by the chair aims to empower participant to address critical issues in the healthcare sector through collaboration with healthcare professionals from various sectors including pharmaceutical industry, Labs, hospital and startup the programme offers solutions to the daily challenges faced by Healthcare professionals

 

This collaboration between the academic programme and Healthcare Research Center aims to enhance our comprehension of the crucial factor driving value generating solution for improved care and support for companies and healthcare professionals, it provides participants with academic validations ensuring a blend of highlevel academic knowledge with a practical and operational approach

 

The management in Innovative Healthcare was established two years ago as part of a long-term collaboration between Bristol Myers Squibb and EDHEC business school, this chair enables the two partners to mobilise their respective knowledge and expertise to better understand the consequences of the digital revolution on the healthcare sector.

 

This truck was designed to offer a wealth of fundamental knowledge while remaining firmly grounded in realities of the market and sector dynamics. It's with this in mind that we've headed visits and conferences for participants. For example, our participants attended the AI for health Summit at StationF in November 2023 to engage with professionals who work to make Health Data and AI more accessible and to accelerate innovation in Health.

 

This track encourages collaboration across disciplines welcoming Healthcare Professionals like doctors, vets and pharmacists, as well as candidates from diverse Fields like law or engineering technology has taken down boundaries between fields and particularly in healthcare. This has opened them significant opportunities for inter and intradisciplinary collaboration all aimed at the common objective ensuring patients get the best and affordable care they need.

 

The medical landscape evolves rapidly, understanding how digital healthcare functions and appreciating its importance for both patients and Healthcare professionals is essential, therefore thanks to this programme we give skills and competencies to managers to effectively handle the digital future of medicine.

What are the opportunities for the healthcare industry? 

 

 

EDHEC: What are the opportunities for the healthcare industry?  

 

Gregory: Technology presents both aspects: danger and opportunity. And we should work towards it becoming helpful for everyone. Prevention is an excellent example of where the healthcare sector could greatly benefit from data. 

There is already a lot going on there, and if you could prevent diseases, that would be revolutionary!  Historically, hospitals treat sick patients. "Healthy customers" weren't really their priority. AI-enhanced gadgets can provide a wealth of knowledge, and we should use this knowledge to advance this field. If advanced technology such as AI could help change that, it would be a great development. 

 

EDHEC: Do you believe there are risks with people turning to Dr Google for their diagnosis? 

 

Gregory: It can be dangerous if you trust what comes out without questioning it. So, it will be a massive challenge because any diagnosis still needs validation by a human. That's the direction some regulation is already going or aiming to go. 

It means that we, as healthcare professionals, should get trained to understand how AI works and how to control it, because right now the AI doesn't tell us how it came to a particular conclusion.

The concrete impact of an MBA 

 

 

EDHEC: You've already touched on what you hope to gain from this EMBA - a better understanding of business processes and some awareness of finance and new technologies. And are there any courses or classes that particularly stuck with you or challenged you and shifted your perspective?  

 

Gregory: In the end, it often comes down to the teachers you have. For example, we had a class on supply chain management. Before it started, I was sceptical because I had no interest in it and knew nothing about the subject. But we had such a fantastic professor who made the subject really compelling and I saw the relevance of the subject for us, even for professionals who don’t really have anything to do with SC.   

We've had a lot of good teachers. We had an outstanding teacher on the topics of giving feedback, building effective teams, and leadership coaching. We also have different strategy teachers who are all excellent. It's really important and very much appreciated that EDHEC puts a lot of effort into the quality of the faculty. 

 

EDHEC: What is your cohort like? 

 

Gregory: In my HIT cohort, there are around twenty particpants, all from different industries. It's great to see that out of twenty people, everyone is so nice. Each person has an interesting background and a unique experience. Everyone is helpful, and we all are in the same boat. It's great to be part of and what I was hoping for. We are all comfortable with each other. This is due to the school itself and the way that the teachers manage, getting us to form a supportive group.  

The first day, we got to know each other, and from there, it developed well. It helps that the first week is in Lille* so you're all together for almost a week. When you're in Paris, the people living in the city might have other plans and be going home. And the people coming here for the course go out with each other. 

 

EDHEC: What's it like working with people from different cultures and diverse industry backgrounds? 

 

Gregory: Of course, there are differences, depending on the industry and the knowledge.  

For example, when we have a financial topic, it's fascinating to see how someone with a finance background views the issue differently. Not everybody has the same approach, but that's exactly what I like. To see that things can be done in another way, that works as well or better, and not being too strict or too narrow-minded, but seeing that there are good alternatives.   

 

EDHEC: How do you think this exposure to different styles and different working methods will help you in the future? 

 

Gregory: First, it will help me on a personal level. Over the past year, I've learned to take more responsibility. With teams to lead, it can be challenging to communicate well and meet everyone’s demands. Here, I can discover a lot about leadership techniques and self-reflection. 

I like that because I know I make many mistakes with communication and leading a team, so I would like to improve in all these areas. 

And then, I’d like my clinic to be innovative. We want to introduce new 'offers,' so it will help me understand how a project works, how a business plan works, and how I can put something solid into place. People tell me, and I hope they're right, that I'm innovative and can inspire people, but sometimes I need help getting things off the ground. That's where I want to improve. 

 

EDHEC: Finally, could you sum up the programme in three words? 

 

Gregory: First, I'd say it's 'inspirational.' 

Then, and this is maybe a strange word to describe it, but it's 'authentic' in the sense that the school doesn't want to be something that they're not. They're very, you know, down-to-earth, the professors are approachable and faculty as well as staff put a lot of effort into making this experience truly transformative. 

Thirdly, it's a challenge. Bringing together everything: family, job, school, and other interests. You need a lot of time. It's feasible, but it's still really challenging. Also, the subjects are pretty demanding, especially those outside my area of expertise. Of course, that's also part of an MBA; you're not just buying a degree! You need to earn it!  

You learn, you grow. 

 

Elevate your Healthcare career

 

Advance your career to leadership roles, gain expertise in cutting-edge healthcare technologies, and join a global network of healthcare and business professionals with the Executive MBA in Healthcare Innovation & Technology at EDHEC*.

 

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* N.B.:  EDHEC offers its Executive MBA in Lille or in Paris, induction week is in Lille, for both groups together. Executive MBA participants and those choosing the Healthcare specialisation are together for the first term’s core courses as well, on the campus of their choice. The specialisation part is organised mainly on the Paris campus, plus international learning expeditions and excursions.  

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