Rosemary Hannam, Senior Research Associate with the Centre for Health Sector Strategy at Rotman, recently sat down with Professor Will Mitchell. The interview below focuses on what students in Rotman’s Global Executive MBA for Healthcare and the Life Sciences can expect in Singapore, and why this is a global destination for healthcare management.
Rosemary: Professor Mitchell, congratulations on launching the new Global Executive MBA for Healthcare and the Life Sciences. I hear the response has been tremendous so far.
Will: Thanks Rosemary, we’re really pleased with the number and quality of the applicants so far. The class is shaping up beautifully.
Rosemary: That’s just terrific. Clearly, you’ve designed a program that fills a need in the MBA market.
Will: We believe so. The combination of the MBA, customized for the healthcare industry and delivered in a modular format for the working professional, with a focus on global best practices, is really resonating with the sector.
Rosemary: That’s great to hear. The global nature of the program is particularly unique, and it would be interesting to know more about that aspect of the program design. Let’s focus on the global destinations, specifically Singapore, one of three cities you visit in the program. As I understand, there are six residency periods, four in Toronto, one in San Francisco and one in Singapore. Why did you choose Singapore?
Will: It’s a good question, and it wasn’t easy to decide. We spent quite a bit of time speaking with other faculty and leaders in the field regarding possible destinations, and many options came forward. After some weeks Singapore emerged as a clear winner, for several reasons.
Overall, the country is a centre of excellence for care delivery, health and clinical research, the biomedical and life science industries, and technological innovation.
From a care delivery perspective, Singapore has one of the best health systems in the world. They deliver high quality services for a reasonable amount – only 4.9% of GDP is spent on health, compared to 10.5% spent in Canada, 17.1% in the U.S., and 11.7% even in highly regarded health systems such as Switzerland. The services are funded by mandated private insurance for individuals, with a fall-back option for those without employment.
From a commercial perspective there are many global health and life sciences firms in the pharma and med tech sectors that have headquarters in Singapore to serve the Asian markets. For example, Novartis Alcon, GE, and Johnson & Johnson.
From a technology perspective, Singapore has developed and implemented many innovative solutions, such as a National Electronic Health Record program launched in 2011, and telehealth and telemedicine are both used expensively throughout the country.
The Singapore market itself is small but sophisticated, and close to the quickly emerging markets in Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines, and close to India and China.
It’s a small place, easy to get around, and the population is a mix of Singapore natives and expats on short term assignments. We’ll spend 7 days there in early July, and while we’re there we’ll take full advantage of the local environment and provide opportunities to learn about a major growth region. We’ll hear from executives about their experiences, visit facilities, and potentially engage in local projects.
The region also offers an opportunity to compare emerging strategies – for example, we’ll be able to see how a company’s strategy for Vietnam, an emerging market, is different than one for Thailand, which is more developed. It’s also an opportunity to learn about how companies are tackling huge growing markets such as China and India.
Rosemary: Wow, that’s very convincing. How are you going to pack all that into 7 days, with school work as well?
Will: Two ways – One, the local experiences are designed to cover specific learning objectives, so some of the hours spent engaged with senior executives will count as our class time, and two, we’ll cover as much material as we can using our distance learning platform before and after the trip, to free up hours to studying the local industry when we’re there.
Rosemary: That makes good sense, thank you. Any other comments for us?
Will: Come and join us, it’s going to be a fantastic learning opportunity!
 https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.XPD.TOTL.ZS?locations=SG (retrieved Feb 16, 2018)