A group of students from the School of Healthcare Business and Technology pose for a photo near the Tower Bridge in London.
Academic Innovation | 12/14/2023

Gaining a Global Perspective Studying Healthcare in the U.K.

By Jennifer Persons

A group of students from the School of Healthcare Business and Technology pose for a photo near the Tower Bridge in London.

A trip to London challenged MCPHS students and faculty to evaluate a different model for healthcare and compare it to the system in the United States.

“How do they pay for this? Can we have this at home?”

These questions swirled in Haley Moore’s head, over and over, as she toured hospitals across London.

“There’s so much value in meeting people that do the same thing as you in another country,” said Moore, Doctor of Healthcare Administration ‘24. “If they can do all that by being good at budgeting, spending, and fundraising, there’s a lot we can do better here.”

Moore and 18 other students enrolled in the Global Comparative Healthcare Seminar joined faculty from the School of Healthcare Business and Technology on a trip to London this fall. They spent a week immersed in the United Kingdom’s healthcare system, as faculty led site visits to public and private hospitals and other healthcare facilities. They attended presentations by leaders from organizations across the system. And they considered which elements they could or should implement in the United States.

“Our perception is that publicly funded healthcare is bad quality, but we as saw in England, that’s not always the case,” said Moore, who served as the ambassador for her class on the trip.

The trip focused on the National Health Service (NHS), which provides free healthcare—including physician, hospital, dental services, and mental health—for all residents of the United Kingdom. The NHS was established in 1948, making it the first universal health system in the world. Taxes primarily fund it.

But the system itself—and how it truly functions daily—is far more complicated. And the group from MCPHS got to witness those complexities firsthand.

A Tale of Two Hospitals

Students and faculty on the trip quickly learned that not all NHS-funded hospitals are created equal. They toured Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, where they observed innovative approaches.

“This group of doctors and providers comes together to find new ways to do old things, be more efficient, and enhance the patient experience,” Moore recalled. “They were brilliant, and I kept reminding myself that they are doing this at a public hospital.”

Moore described Chelsea and Westminster as modern, beautiful, and well maintained. It had the latest technology. It even had an indoor atrium with live trees and sleep pods for the staff. The hospital is also in an affluent part of London.

Another day, the group visited Watford General Hospital, about an hour outside the city. Moore said the hospital was old, outdated, and cramped.

“You couldn’t even compare the two,” Moore said. “It was surprising how wide the gap between them was. It was an entirely different experience that reminded me of healthcare here.”

Moore is Clinic Director at Dedicated Senior Medical Center in Florida, which provides value-based, full-risk care for its residents. They also aim to build clinics in underserved areas to combat healthcare disparities like the ones she witnessed in London.

But they exist because in addition to public funding, NHS hospitals are also funded by private insurance, companies and corporations, and even wealthy patients who pay out of pocket. The hospitals that fundraise more have better facilities and technology.

“It hit home for me and made me think about how fortunate I am to work where I work,” she said. “Just because you live in Watford and not Chelsea shouldn’t mean you don’t deserve a nice, clean place to receive healthcare.”

Taking Lessons Home

During every site visit and presentation, Moore couldn’t help but compare what she was seeing and learning to healthcare at home. The way NHS facilities are funded reminded Moore of her current place of work, which receives funding from the Medicare Advantage program.

“Our profits and losses are so heavily dependent on us taking good care of our patients,” she explained. “In America, the standard is fee for service. There is no incentive to take care of you. The NHS is built on the idea that healthcare is a right.”

For Moore, this trip further emphasized the complexity of healthcare and how difficult it would be to uproot an established system in any country.

“I don’t think there is one system to rule them all because it is and always will be so complicated to deliver healthcare,” she explained.

Moore said the group was buzzing with questions about funding, regulation, and the intricacies of the NHS. There is so much to learn, and the people in London were equally curious about ideas from the students and faculty.

“We felt so welcome and never felt as though we were interrupting their day,” Moore recalled. “They were excited to hear from us and were open to our ideas.”

For Moore, this trip reinforced her passion for value-based care and sparked a new career goal.

“Someday, I would love to take on a role where I get to spend time with people in healthcare systems around the world and learn from them to see how I can improve our own.”