Forum discusses future of health care

Michael L. Ducker, president, International of FedEx Express, speaks during the opening plenary session of the Global Business Forum in 2009. Courtesy School of Business Administration.

Amidst the recent push by the GOP to repeal the health care reform bill passed last March, the University of Miami School of Business Administration hosted the Global Business Forum from Jan. 12 to 14. The overlying theme of the series was “The Business of Health Care: Defining the Future.”

“From both a humanitarian and business standpoint, there is no better import or export than health,” said UM President Donna E. Shalala during the closing keynote session.

The forum brought together 700 professionals from a variety of fields to discuss the state of health care in America, especially in light of the contentious health care bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, enacted last March.

“With all the controversy, it’s something that needs to be discussed and hashed out,” said Krizia Giambanco, a volunteer at the School of Business event.

Keynote speakers included Secretary of the U.S. Department of Human and Health Services Kathleen Sebelius, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg and chairman and CEO of General Electric Jeffrey R. Immelt.

“Health care is very personal,” Sebelius said. “The challenge is connecting people to the system in a way they understand.”
She emphasized the need for better and more efficient health care, a recurring theme throughout the three-day conference.

“America continues to lag behind in health results,” Sebelius said. “We live sicker and die younger than we should. Too few of us get to watch our grandchildren grow up.”

The forum featured 32 panels totaling 150 speakers and panelists presenting on a wide variety of topics. The panels were divided into six “tracks”- aging, economics, innovation, health care delivery, global issues and wellness and prevention.

“I liked the session on obesity and the South Beach diet one,” said junior Jennifer Verdon, who attended the forum.

Another major theme was the importance of a multi-disciplinary approach when tackling today’s health care problems. The forum included presentations from all 11 undergraduate schools and colleges at UM, as well as from the Arnold Center for Confluent Studies, The Launch Pad and the Lowe Art Museum.

“With health care, it’s across all disciplines,” Verdon said. “It requires everyone.”

Verdon was one of the 65 students who was able to attend the forum through a scholarship sponsored by VITAS Innovative Hospice Care.

“The experience has been amazing,” senior Ronniba Pemberton said. “You get to interact with public and private officials. I’m trying to get into grad school so it’s important for me to hear these ideas.”
The recipients also got the opportunity to speak with the CEO of VITAS.

“It’s really great to be with all these health care people in one room and to have other students who are pursuing the same goals as you,” Pemberton said.

This is the second Global Business Forum that UM has hosted. The inaugural forum in 2009 focused on the struggling economy and starred industry veterans like President and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company Muhtar Kent and Vice Chairman and CEO of the McDonald’s Corporation Jim Skinner.

This year’s Global Business Forum was one of the final projects by the Dean of School of Business Administration Barbara Kahn, who is stepping down after three years.

Alysha Khan may be contacted at