Houstonian’s Education Fundamentally Vital For Work In Cancer Care

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(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

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Earlier this year, MD Anderson announced its “Moon Shots” program, an ambitious research effort to cure cancer collaboratively, much as our best and brightest rallied together to put a man on the moon in 1969. With such cutting-edge medical technology in the Houston area, many management professionals have found themselves in the health industry, putting their knowledge of finance and efficiency into practice, and making the patient experience better.

Heidi Albright, director of the Institute for Cancer Care Innovation at MD Anderson, received her bachelor of science in finance from the University of New Orleans, and her master of healthcare administration from Texas Woman’s University, before taking on her current position. Albright recognizes the importance of education in her work. She is currently pursuing a master of public health from Johns Hopkins that she expects to receive this coming fall.

Heidi Albright, director of the Institute for Cancer Care Innovation, MD Anderson (photo courtesy of Heidi Albright)

Heidi Albright, director of the Institute for Cancer Care Innovation, MD Anderson (photo courtesy of Heidi Albright)

What does your current position entail?

“My current role is director of the Institute for Cancer Care Innovation. I’m responsible for the development, strategy and implementation of innovative, leading-edge research projects including the value proposition, time-driven activity-based costing, patient-reported outcomes of care, and analyzing the effects of healthcare reform in oncology.”

Do you feel your education prepared you for your current role? 

“Upon undergraduate graduation, I went directly into the M.H.A. program with a focus on healthcare finance and operations. This preparation led to my role at MD Anderson as a financial reporting analyst within our finance division in supply chain. I really learned the backend operations of the hospital from that perspective, including hospital-based financial reporting, purchasing and contract negotiation. Later, I became the clinical business manager for the internal medicine centers at MD Anderson.

“This is when I was thankful for my M.H.A. I could report and analyze whatever was needed, but as the manager of busy clinics, you have to know how to effectively put that information to work, how to benchmark for nurse staffing ratios, management of different professional backgrounds, effects of hospital expansion on inpatient and outpatient volumes, health law, etc. And even beyond those fundamental skills, I learned a great deal about medical ethics, sociology and effective communication.

“Dealing with financial transactions is one thing, but being prepared to deal with busy clinics in the number one cancer hospital in the world on a daily basis is, from my perspective at least, the hardest job I will ever have had.”

Do you have any advice for people interested in pursuing a similar career?

“Do it because you love it, whatever it is. I never thought I would become a resource for cost accounting in healthcare, but I do it because I know that this work is the right thing to do for our patients, and actually it’s these sorts of projects that can lead to real innovation.”

Gillian Kruse is a freelance writer living in Houston. She graduated from Rice University with a great love for all performing and visual arts. She enjoys writing about arts and cultural events, especially little-known ones, to help Houstonians learn about what’s going on in their city. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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