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Wendy Arnone MHCDS ‘14

Chief Executive Officer, West Region, UnitedHealthcare

Wendy Arnone MHCDS ‘14 Image

The failures of the health care industry to deal with its paramount challenge helped bring Wendy Arnone to pursue a degree in the Master of Health Care Delivery Science at Dartmouth. “Twenty-five years ago costs were just starting to get noticed,” says Arnone, who runs the largest insurer in Wisconsin. “When I look at where we are today, we aren’t any better and in some ways we’re worse. I don’t think we’ve made the dent in this industry that we need to make.”

After a quarter century in health care as a nurse and insurance executive, Arnone is looking for new approaches to better serve her company’s 1 million Wisconsin customers. At Dartmouth she’s had the opportunity to form relationships with others in health care who don’t always see eye-to-eye with insurance companies.

“I’ve always understood that the provider community and payer community are on different ends of the table,” she says. “What I’ve learned is the degree to which providers don’t have a clear understanding of all that we can offer because the divide is so large. And I hope to gain a better appreciation of the work flow and lives of providers. If we can extend hands and work together, it could be incredibly powerful.”

Though Arnone has an MBA, she felt the challenges the health care industry is facing amid rising costs and an aging population necessitated a more focused program. “We’ve been taught by physicians as well as professors from the Tuck School of Business and that’s a very powerful combination,” she says. “You can tell they’ve collaborated on this.”

By learning new approaches to old problems, Arnone hopes to find more ways to align the interests of patients, physicians, insurance companies, and government. “I’ve learned to look at concepts through a different lens,” she says. “I’m looking forward to more ‘Wow, I never thought of it that way’ moments.”

The program’s mix of intensive learning at Dartmouth combined with online classes suits the needs of her family and company, she says. “This is an awesome opportunity to take what I’ve learned on the job over the past 25 years and take it to the next level.”

“How do we deliver high-quality health care that people can afford?” asks Arnone. “That’s a simple goal on paper. But in the real world it’s anything but.”