South Florida Hospital News
Saturday March 28, 2020

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February 2020 - Volume 16 - Issue 8




The Business of Health Care - Social Determinants, Economic and Political Impacts

At first glance one might not see the link between a renowned business school’s sponsorship of an international health care conference and the social determinants of health care. However, Dr. Steven Ullmann, Department Chair and Professor of Health Management and Policy at University of Miami School of Business has plenty of reasons why he is expecting 1,000 participants for the school’s 9th annual signature program, focused on The Business of Health Care:The Social, Political & Economic Determinants of Health.

Dr. Ullmann, a pioneer in researching the synergy of socio-economic determinants of health and business, views scenarios through an economics academic stance. “Knowing ‘where’ and ‘how’ people live and work has an impact on productivity, presenteeism and absenteeism, and in turn, how business plans affect health of their country, employees and communities at large,” he said.
“For example, one of our well-known global delivery and logistics companies conducted a productivity study to determine the impact of weight gain on their drivers’ speed of package delivery. The resulting decrease in productivity led to a review of workplace vending machine choices, among other things. Subsequently, as more businesses found similar negative results of diet and lifestyle impact on productivity, the food and beverage industries began marketing new products with less sugar and smaller sizes,” he explained.
Dr. Ullmann’s academic foundation in economics also provides him insight into the intertwined financial impact of health and business in terms of the costs and utilization of health care services. For example, as societal stigmas dissipate regarding divorce and mental health as well as certain aspects of physical health, there is a correlated impact on work time missed due to court appearances or counseling sessions, doctors’ appointments and the overall emotional status of workers, life expectancy, causes of early retirement, quality of work output or workplace safety due to stress or family issues. “Both physical and mental health issues can provoke dysfunctional patterns on workplace productivity charts; so, purposely addressing the social aspects of employee health is a management concern,” he concluded.
Given the current political and economic climate, speakers include such senior leaders from the American Medical Association, American Nursing Association, America’s Health Insurance Plans as well as pharmaceutical, technological, diagnostic and other aspects of the health care environment. Panels will address health topics-- both current as well as a futuristic look at the business of health care coverage, technology, and government regulation that guide corporate initiatives. Experts will share insights regarding pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, genomics, and medical devices and their effectiveness and accessibility. Discussion will include such aspects as the opioid crisis, the debate about vaccinations, the aging population, chronic disease and mental health and the pressures they can place on business decisions-- from human resources to marketing innovation.
Attendees have the opportunity for valuable networking with leaders of both the business and service providers of the health industry and sharing of potential solutions and/or steps to follow to survive or even avoid negative trends. Research indicates that quality provision of health care requires an understanding of and business acumen regarding delivery methodology effects not only on patient outcomes but also the political ramifications of regulations and economic factors which can shift businesses from a path of endurance and success to costly missteps and failures. Experts will thoroughly explore these issues.
The University of Miami - with global faculty and student input - is located in a multi-cultural, multi-lingual mecca of academic research and health care delivery which caters to a large and growing aging population with elongated work and life expectancy. These demographic and geographic dynamics give a unique perspective on the intricacies of socio-economic and political influences and the boomerang effect of health and business policies. Consequently, the conference draws wide interest from a global audience.
In fact, featured panelist Julio Frenk, M.D., the current president of the University, is a former minister of health in Mexico and knows the predicators of concern and interest in the North and South American continents. This includes the intercultural dynamic of multi-generational health needs; the anticipated continued influx of technology and accompanying professional and technical education needs; and, growing health care costs in the USA and Canada, the Caribbean and Latin American countries. Indeed, a panel of ministers of health from Latin America and the Caribbean will provide important insights regarding these issues and beyond.
“With each successful conference we have learned and listened to our audience response to a wide range of health care, business and government leadership issues. This election year there promises to be dynamic and timely debate regarding the challenges presented by the proposed policies of presidential candidates and significant interconnectivity with social, political and economic determinants of health in the United States and worldwide,” Dr. Ullmann said.
“The University’s School of Business Executive MBA in Health Care Policy curriculum (rated #1 in the country) and its other graduate and undergraduate programs as well as its Center for Health Management and Policy are incubators for innovative thought. Year after year we come away from this program enriched with ideas that intellectually challenge our thinking and resolve. Eventually that contributes to the launch or acceleration of new methodologies of health care delivery designed to positively impact both personal and business outcomes,” he concluded.
This year’s conference will be held Friday, March 27, 2020 at the University of Miami Watsco Center. Previous conferences have had escalated attendance and sold out, so immediate registration is advised.

For information, discounted hotels and registration, visit or email

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