Cheung Wong, MD, MHCDS
The collective passion of my professors and classmates reminds me that we are all here at MHCDS because we all care about our healthcare system and want to improve our healthcare system by learning to become more effective and influential leaders.
I am a physician leader at University of Vermont. Clinically, I am the Director of Gynecologic Oncology and Urogynecology, and I have an active clinical practice in gynecologic oncology both in the office and in the operating room. Administratively, I am the Vice President of Clinical Affairs at UVM Health Network Medical Group. As Vice President, I am responsible for the clinical and quality programs of our network/medical group; as such, some of my responsibilities include identifying opportunities/challenges in our clinical programs, developing consistent clinical programs across our six network hospitals and its ambulatory offices, and monitoring ambulatory quality metrics. On a personal note, I am a native New Yorker who moved, in 2000, to Vermont with my wife and we have 2 kids. A little-known fact about me is that I have ran a total of ten marathons in NYC and Burlington, VT.
Why did you decide to enroll in the Master of Health Care Delivery Science program?
I spent over 11 years in training to become a physician who specializes in gynecologic oncology, but none of those 11 years trained me to become an administrative leader; as such, I decided that, if I wanted to be a more effective leader, I needed formal education in disciplines (such as strategy, management, accounting & finance) which were lacking in my graduate and post-graduate education.
Why didn't you pursue an MBA program?
Understanding that the business of medicine is complex and our decisions (clinical and financial) will have significant impact in people’s lives, I decided not a pursue a traditional MBA because I wanted a program that had insight into the particulars related to the field of medicine; as such, I decided to enroll in Dartmouth’s MHCDS program because it is a blend of a MBA and MPH program where it not only understands the uniqueness and challenges of medicine but also how business principles can help improve the health care delivery system.
What has been the best part of the program for you, so far?
The best part of the MHCDS program is that concepts taught in each of the courses are relevant to my work and I have utilized these concepts to better understand issues at work or to make adjustments/improvements in some of our initiatives at work; furthermore, I have been able to share the concepts that I have learned with my colleagues so that we can all have a better understanding as to how we can move forward more effectively. Because of the MHCDS program, now, I meet with our network CEO monthly to talk about the concepts that I learned from the MHCDS program and how it applies to our network strategy and implementation of new initiatives. For me, this has been a very valuable opportunity to see how applying academic theories taught in class can make significant improvements in my work environment.
Have you been able to apply your learnings at work? Can you give an example?
My organization is moving towards a value-based payment system which will change the workflow of many of our employees and will also bring in new structures such as population health service organization (PHSO); needless to say, communicating this organizational change has been challenging. From Professor Argenti’s class “Implementing strategy through people”, he discussed the emotional experience that people face with change and how to utilize the positive emotions (such as hope, sense of focus and enthusiasm) to implement change. For me, Professor Argenti’s comments were my “aha” moment and I realized that there was a more effective way to communicate the change that UVM Health Network is undergoing. As such, my new message regarding the movement towards value-based care is to talk about hope and a sense of focus: while we acknowledge that the COVID pandemic has burned out our workforce, we are going to help our employees focus on their work (and find joy in their work) with the introduction of the PHSO because the PHSO is going to provide services to our staff that were not previously available; as such, our organizational change is not only going to better serve our patients but also our employees. With this new message, I have been able to improve the engagement of our staff with the upcoming changes in our organization.
When have you been inspired in the program?
Dr. Govindarajan’s lecture “Three-Box Solution: A Strategy for Leading Innovation” has inspired me and changed how I engage my colleagues on various initiatives in my organization.
COVID has weighed heavily on the shoulders of everyone, and, I, like everyone else, am often preoccupied with managing a variety of daily crisis; as such, any talk about innovation is more of a burden rather than a necessity for many individuals. However, Dr. Govindarajan’s lecture impressed upon me that while we need to continue to manage/improve our organization’s daily operations (box 1), we must also spend time thinking and preparing about the future direction of our organization (box 3). Inspired by his lecture, every opportunity that I get, I describe Dr. Govindarajan’s “Three-Box Solution” to inspire others not to be drowned by the management of our daily operations but to take a deep breath and spend some time focusing on what we, as an organization, want to become. No matter how many times I have described ”Three-Box Solution”, my excitement has never waned watching heads nod or eyes light up when I acknowledge the challenges of our daily responsibilities but the need to also focus on what we, as an organization, want to become.
Is there anything you would tell a friend or colleague who might be interested in the MHCDS program?
When I think about the MHCDS program, passion is the one word that comes to my mind. I am constantly in awe with the passion that the professors and my classmates display in this program. During the residentials and the Tuesday meetings, you can hear the passion (and excitement) in the professor’s voice as they teach the class and you can feel the passion as they relate the topic to the healthcare profession. Likewise, the passion that my classmates display during class discussions (during residential, in our group assignments, or in the writing assignments) is motivating. The collective passion of my professors and classmates reminds me that we are all here at MHCDS because we all care about our healthcare system and want to improve our healthcare system by learning to become more effective and influential leaders.