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MHA Alum Dr. Ajay Jain Blends Finance and Health Care, Dives into the Business of Medicine

Ajay Jain, M.D. (eMHA 2020) is a professor of pediatrics, pharmacology, and physiology at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine and a SLUCare/SSM Faculty member in Pediatrics-Hepatology and Gastroenterology with an interest in finance.

A Pediatric Liver Transplant Physician by training, Dr. Jain has a vast research portfolio that includes millions of dollars of NIH funding to research several aspects of Short Bowel Syndrome, and pediatric liver health.

While much of his work as a doctor and researcher revolves around liver health and gastrointestinal health, Dr. Jain wanted to learn more about the financial side of the work he was doing.

He developed an interest in the business side of medicine after establishing his career at SLU following years of schooling and real-world experience as a physician Delhi (India), Georgia and Texas.

“During this process I had an interest in finance and some of the aspects of managed care and really the business side of medicine that is not taught in med school,” he said. “I thought it'll be good to sort of understand some of the lingo that our finance people talk about, to be able to understand the needs of our patients and serve them better. The business side of medicine was still new to me.”

Ajay Jain, M.D., is a professor of pediatrics, pharmacology, and physiology. Submitted photo.

Ajay Jain, M.D., is a professor of pediatrics, pharmacology, and physiology. Submitted photo.

He says that health care has recently changed to a model that links to outcomes and there is an increased push for accountability in healthcare.

He identified that with this change, financial information, revenues, and language that used to be hidden from physicians were more prevalent now and saw an opportunity with the MHA program for him to learn more and expand his understanding.

“These are terms which were completely alien to me a couple years ago, but they are essential because that is how healthcare delivery is evolving and how it will probably remain in the next several years,” Dr. Jain said. “As physicians we are sometimes blinded by the cost of healthcare delivery and we may pick up options including medications, therapeutics, which may have cheaper alternatives that could be equally good.”

At SLU, Dr. Jain started as a clinician for patients with liver and gastrointestinal diseases, served on finance and compensation committees and was recommended for pursuing the Master’s in Health Administration program by his departmental chair.

He started the program with some trepidation about the time commitment but quickly found an understanding for the business of healthcare in ways that were completely new, he said.

“I am continuing to use my MHA in a lot of aspects of my life. It helps with research budgeting within my lab. It helps us in operations within the hospital as we hire new people and talk with insurance providers for our patients with liver transplant…I’m not blindsided with some of the language being used.”

As Dr. Jain continues to see the health care model changing, he sees a correlation between better care being delivered at an equitable cost.

Completing an MHA also helped Dr. Jain foster relationships with fellows that allowed everyone to blossom.

As his future focus also turns to leadership roles in academia and industry, he also keeps his focus on science, motivation, and policy around liver and GI health and on health care outcomes. He was recently named vice president for the American Society of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition with a global membership of over 6500. He says that his MHA training greatly helps him in serving to steer the nutrition landscape to further streamline healthcare delivery across geographic, economic and socio-cultural boundaries.

No matter what part of healthcare Dr. Jain finds himself in, he will always take his MHA with him.

“I am thankful to the MHA program and my teachers and mentors, who so passionately taught us important skills so we as physicians who were completely naive to the healthcare business aspects have somewhat of an understanding,” he said.

College for Public Health and Social Justice

The Saint Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice is the only academic unit of its kind, studying social, environmental and physical influences that together determine the health and well-being of people and communities. It also is the only accredited school or college of public health among nearly 250 Catholic institutions of higher education in the United States. Guided by a mission of social justice and focus on finding innovative and collaborative solutions for complex health problems, the college offers nationally recognized programs in public health and health administration.