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photo of Erin KennedyErin Kennedy

2006 alumna working to improve healthcare efficiencies and outcomes

When Erin Kennedy received her MPA with a concentration in health policy, she had a pretty good idea how she could best serve the public. Through her internship at AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, she discovered how the private sector is working to improve health care. Kennedy is now Director of Performance Technologies at The Advisory Board Company—a global research, technology, and consulting firm helping hospital and university executives to better serve patients and students—based in Washington, D.C.

Having taken a job right after graduation as a Senior Associate with The Advisory Board Company’s MedTech consulting group, which involved working with medical-device companies, Kennedy has steadily moved upward through the ranks with each position and set of experiences. 

As a Consultant, Kennedy led many market research projects looking at competitors in the market and sales projections. She was then promoted to the syndicated research and insights department, where she worked on two large research studies—one for its Oncology Roundtable membership and the other for its Clinical Advisory Board membership. She then moved into the Performance Technology division as an Associate Director with its Crimson product. In October 2010, she was promoted to Director.

Kennedy talks about her current role with The Advisory Board Company. “I really enjoy the management aspect of my role. I currently oversee a team of seven Dedicated Advisors who work directly with more than 50 hospitals and health systems. In this capacity, I serve as an Executive Advisor to help manage the account and drive organizations to meaningful ROI [returns on investment] and quality improvements.”

Kennedy adds, “The most exciting and rewarding aspect of my job is the ability to help hospitals improve patient care and clinical outcomes.”

In the current technological and political climate within the field of health care, change can be tough. So many innovations, new procedures, and systematic practices place a lot of pressure on the industry.  Kennedy concurs. “The toughest aspect of my job is helping organizations through change management. It is often difficult to elicit change when you don’t work directly in or for a hospital,” she says. “We also have a challenge training and implementing a new technology into an already tech-heavy environment, especially with physicians, who have limited time to learn new systems. More broadly, the realm of health care and healthcare regulations is an ever-changing space,” she says, “so keeping current on all things relevant to hospitals and health systems is difficult.”

Kennedy’s experiences have prepared her well for her current position, however. She discusses how her on-the-job learning has made a difference.

“The consulting experience helped refine my relationship- and account-management skills. This work allowed me to gain better insight into the market drivers of new technologies.  The research experience provided me with a deeper understanding of the inpatient and ambulatory healthcare space. I was able to obtain a greater knowledge of hospital processes, government regulations, and clinical challenges. Both of these experiences positioned me well for a role in which I am required to not only help implement a new technology at a hospital but also set the strategic vision for that technology.” Concluding, she adds, “I provide hospitals guidance on how to work with physicians to improve quality and lower costs through change management, communication strategies, and data transparency.”

Of course, while working on her MPA and with IPA, her internship at AstraZeneca was critical.

“My internship at AstraZenica Pharmaceuticals helped to prepare me for the role I am in now by exposing me to the private sector. I was able to get a better understanding of the company’s reporting structure and dynamics and also learn what the expectations were of an employee.”

Continuing, Kennedy says of IPA, “My work with IPA helped set the foundation for my knowledge of the healthcare industry and how public policy influences and changes healthcare delivery. I also learned how to clearly articulate my thoughts and present them in a way that is concise and focuses on solutions, not just the problem.”

“I think the most important thing I learned [at IPA],” Kennedy says, “was to do your research and be prepared to answer tough questions. If you are working on something, spend the time to really learn it inside and out so that you can answer questions on your feet and be seen as an expert. This allows you to build credibility with your client and provide meaningful insights.”

Kennedy has learned these lessons well.

She came to the University of Delaware’sMPA program, having received her B.S. from Virginia Tech with a major in Human Nutrition, Food, and Exercise and a minor in Biology.

And what of her future in the field of health care? Kennedy hopes to continue at The Advisory Board Company and take on a larger role within the organization as both the product and the team grows. “I am looking forward to integrating the multiple products we work with into a larger, unified platform and hope to have input into that design,” she says.

Change has crept into Kennedy’s personal life as well. She’s recently engaged and will be getting married in August on Bald Head Island in North Carolina.

Kennedy and her fiancé, Jay, like to take their dog, Molly, on hikes in Rock Creek Park and enjoy being outdoors. She enjoys spending time in D.C., taking advantage of all the city has to offer. She also travels whenever possible. “Last year we went to Puerto Rico, England, Ireland, and Scotland.”

photo courtesy of Erin Kennedy