Heller Profiles

The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University

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Henrieta Madarova

Czech Republic • Partner, Advance Healthcare Management Institute

MS '06

Reengineering Healthcare in Central and Eastern Europe

Henrieta Madarova, MS '06, helps health care insurers and providers understand health policy and economics.

Fall 2010

Henrieta Madarova, MS '06, is an entrepreneur determined to foster innovation in the health care industry.

Sounds like an all-American challenge, right? The twist is that this 32-year-old alumna is working to ensure the success of health care institutions in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, two European countries that, until 1989, were a single communist-ruled state.

Madarova has developed the Advance Healthcare Management Institute, which offers an executive education program to help health care insurers and providers in the Czech Republic understand health policy and economics. It also teaches practical tools for improving the quality and efficiency of health care institutions.

The institute, Madarova says, strives to produce well-rounded, flexible health care leaders who know how to use rational decision making to solve problems and deal with an ever-increasing scarcity of public-health resources.

Madarova also does strategic planning in health care in Slovakia, designing projects that improve quality and efficiency at the country's biggest private health insurance company, Dovera.

Before coming to the Heller School, Madarova worked as a health-reform team member for Slovakia's minister of health. Back then, she explains, Central and Eastern Europe had no formal university programs focused on health policy. As a result, she says, she and her health-reform colleagues "were mostly self-educated enthusiasts who had read a few English-language articles and books about health policy."

But Madarova wanted to learn much more about the intersection of economics and health policy, and she began to look for a relevant graduate program. "When a colleague from the World Bank recommended the Heller School, I did not hesitate one minute," she says.

"The health system is a very sensitive sector, where a desire for immortality meets with strict principles of economics," Madarova says. "At the policy level, you need to understand the underlying principles before proposing a solution or a change." The Heller School gave her that grounding.

Madarova says she relished having access to up-to-date health-policy research at Heller, as well as all the opportunities to discuss issues with experienced faculty and students. She says she often uses the arguments she learned at Heller to encourage health-policy changes in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

After graduating from Heller, Madarova coestablished and worked as a senior health policy analyst for a think tank. Following that, she advised the Czech Republic's minister of health on health care financing reform. The push then, she says, was to introduce medical savings accounts and managed-care plans, modeled on the U.S. system. But the proposed reforms weren't well understood by the public and have not yet been implemented.

When Madarova and her Ministry of Health colleagues realized a number of stakeholders in the Czech Republic health system -- including managers in health-insurance companies and health care providers--didn't understand basic health-system principles and terminology, they decided to establish an education program for top- and mid-level health care executives. And so the Advance Healthcare Management Institute was born.

In Central and Eastern European countries, access to health care is considered a universal right, provided to all citizens regardless of their ability to pay. Despite this, Madarova points out, health systems there face a number of thorny challenges that the United States is confronting, including the graying of their population and rapidly increasing healthcare costs.

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