July 14, 2024

Holistic Pulse

Healthcare is more important

Yale Healthcare Conference Celebrates 20th Annual Forum

6 min read

Nearly two decades ago, a passionate group of Yale students and alumni launched a new conference aimed at gathering thinkers and practitioners from a variety of disciplines to explore the frontiers of healthcare and health policy. On April 12, the Yale Healthcare Conference, now a premier regional event, will mark its 20th annual gathering when hundreds of healthcare leaders gather at the Yale School of Management.

Laura Hill Temmerman ’06, a joint-degree graduate of Yale SOM and the Yale School of Public Health (YSPH), was among the students who founded the conference; she’s hoping to attend this year.

“I’m incredibly grateful for the students, faculty, and alumni who have kept this conference not only alive but thriving and growing,” says Hill Temmerman, who is now a consultant at NGA Healthcare Consulting. “When I look back on our humble beginnings and then at the esteemed event it is today, I’m honored to have been a part of this,” she says.

Today the conference is a collaborative effort led by students in Yale’s schools of management, medicine, nursing, and public health. It brings together industry leaders, clinicians, and scholars to network, discuss pressing healthcare challenges, and collaborate on innovative solutions. This year’s theme, “Pushing Boundaries in Healthcare Innovation: Pioneering the Next 20 Years of Health” was selected to commemorate the event’s past while looking to its future, organizers say.

Twenty years ago, it was Yale healthcare alumni eager for an on-campus networking opportunity who prompted the conference’s creation.

“Around Thanksgiving of 2004, I had the idea of doing something health related as an SOM alum,” recalls Sam Forman ’95, president of Oak and Ivy Health Systems. “I wanted it to be meaningful, address an unmet need at SOM, be fun, and be capable of growing into an annual event. I bounced the idea off my classmates Julie Huang ’95 and Paul Coggin ’95. Together we crystallized a vision for a one-day event that would link health sector alumni and current students.”

The alumni reached out for help to Hill Temmerman, and to Professor Howard Forman (no relation to Sam Forman), who at the time was helping to oversee the first year of the just-launched MBA for Executives: Leadership in Healthcare program. Eric Anderson ’07 and Randy Johnson ’84, then executive director of EMBA program, also joined the team, with Johnson designing the first conference poster.

“As one of just a handful of joint MBA/MPH students at that time, I had experience at both the School of Management and the School of Public Health, and that let me draw on experts from both programs,” recalls Hill Temmerman, who went on to co-lead the second annual conference.

“We dreamed big, grew the draw and the visibility, and that momentum has continued,” she says. “Having now attended as a founding member, as an alumni speaker, and as a participant, I’m filled with gratitude and pride.”

The conference sold out in its first year and kept on growing. “In the first year we hosted 100 people in Horchow Hall, then 200 at the New Haven Lawn Club in 2006, and then more than 400 at the Omni Hotel,” Sam Forman says. In 2014 the conference moved to newly constructed Edward P. Evans Hall.

A plenary session at the 2008 Yale Healthcare Conference at the Omni Hotel; Prof. Howard Forman with student organizers

Howard Forman, a professor of radiology, economics, public health, and management, who remains director of the MBA for Executives healthcare curriculum, serves as the conference’s faculty advisor.

“The student leaders are always amazing and contribute their unique vantage points and experiences, bringing us the hottest topics and most current speakers, including scholars, leaders in business and society, and consumer and patient perspectives,” Forman says. “It’s also always been a great opportunity for our alums to re-connect with friends and colleagues, and it’s now an opportunity to showcase our Pozen-Commonwealth Fund Fellowship in Health Equity Leadership.”

Heather Williams ’23, a graduate of the executive MBA program and chief operating officer of Cache DNA, is a senior advisor to the conference, working on program development and guest speaker engagement this year.

The conference, she says, promotes a dialogue that can be hard to come by in the healthcare industry. “It allows for impromptu interactions among thought leaders, practitioners, and students, and facilitates the exploration of emerging trends,” she says. “It’s also unique in its ability to showcase groundbreaking advancements in areas that are too often underserved.”

Last year’s conference, she remembered, included guest speaker Emil Kakkis, CEO of Ultragenyx, a pharmaceutical research company focused on treatments for rare and ultrarare diseases. Kakkis’ talk highlighted the scarcity of therapies available for rare diseases through advancements in genomic medicine, Williams says. “His insights underscored the conference’s role in driving innovation and impact in healthcare.”

The 2016, 2019, and 2023 conferences at Edward P. Evans Hall

A team of 18 students is leading this year’s conference, serving on content, marketing, logistics, and finance committees. They come from across the university. Chloe Yang ’24, a joint-degree student at Yale SOM and YSPH, and Rabeea Shaikh, a YSPH student, are serving as co-chairs.

“Our team thought long and hard about the theme,” Yang says. “This event represents 20 years of classmates who came before us bringing to life a conference where healthcare professionals and future leaders can fearlessly talk, think, and inspire, as well as 20 years of achievements and challenges that are still pervasive. We wanted to explore the question, ‘What does the next 20 years of healthcare look like?’”

Yang says the conference was one of the things that brought her to Yale. “Prior to attending Yale SOM, I worked in healthcare management, and my career goal is to enter the health tech and innovation space, where I can focus on increasing patient access to quality healthcare,” she says.

For Shaikh, the conference is all about community. “I’ve always found fulfillment in fostering connections and creating spaces where individuals can collaborate and exchange ideas,” she says. “The conference lets me bring this passion to life on a larger scale, orchestrating an event where healthcare professionals can gather, learn, and network.”

Chloe Yang ’24 and Rabeea Shaikh, co-chairs of the 2024 Yale Healthcare Conference, and the conference’s executive committee

This year’s organizers wanted to “permanently elevate” the experience, Shaikh says. They are unveiling a new logo that reflects how the healthcare space has evolved over 20 years. “We will also inaugurate our first art exhibition that intertwines the realms of art and healthcare, where we hope to inspire others through the narrative of the human experience in health and illness,” Shaikh says.

Serving on the conference’s Finance Committee has helped Archana Gulgulia ’24 network with alumni in healthcare. “It’s been a pleasure to see the enthusiasm around this event, especially from alumni who were involved with the conference during their time at SOM,” she says. “I’m looking forward to hearing about their journeys in the vast healthcare industry and how they found their niche.”

Shelley Xiaoli Wang ’25 is working on the conference’s Marketing Committee. Before coming to Yale SOM, Wang worked in healthcare venture capital and in private equity, where she partnered with management teams to accelerate the growth of innovative healthcare companies.

“Being on the committee not only lets me learn from amazing leaders and peers, it also enables me to contribute my unique business experiences along with my passion for healthcare,” Wang says. “There will be so many interesting conversations and programs that will help future leaders build meaningful connections across the healthcare ecosystem.”

Making connections was also important to conference co-founder Julie Huang ’95, a joint-degree graduate of Yale SOM and YSPH, back in 2004. Her role in planning the inaugural conference centered on creating speaker panels, as well as promoting the event. Huang, a healthcare public relations veteran, is now a senior staffer in the Medical Division of the New York City Department of Sanitation.

“Working alongside my classmates from the Yale SOM Class of 1995, each of us made distinct contributions,” Huang says. Huang had already co-founded the Yale Life Sciences Alumni Association, along with Eric Anderson ’07 and Avinash Prabhakar ’04, which had established itself as one of Yale’s most active alumni groups by 2004.

“The evolution of the Yale Healthcare Conference, and the parallel growth of the Yale Life Sciences Alumni Association and other associations, really showcases grassroots organizational development and transformation over time to respond to changing Yale alumni interests and contributions,” Huang says. “Witnessing the significant role the conference has come to play for the Yale community and the overall healthcare industry has been a truly remarkable experience.”

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