Speaker: Think creatively about future of health care

By Megan Wimpy

Watts Wacker asked students and faculty in the Gatton School of Business and Economics to give themselves permission to think big when it comes to pursuing a career.

“Curiosity is the No. 1 talent employers should look for in their employees,” said Wacker, the keynote speaker at the annual Chellgren Lecture Series hosted by the Gatton School. Wacker is a futurist — someone who predicts future trends based on current tendencies — and founder of First Matter, a think tank based in Connecticut.

More than 100 students and faculty attended Friday’s panel discussion, which aimed to show how the health care field will evolve in the future and how health care can be expanded and improved in the business world.

The discussion, titled “The Business of Life: Opportunities for Health Care,” featured Wacker and a panel of accomplished UK alumni and faculty, including Scott Roeth, co-chair of Emmi Solutions’ Industry Advisory Board; UK surgery professor Sibu Saha; and Tom Liston, senior vice president for strategy and corporate

development at Humana.

“As you pursue your future career, the health care (industry) needs your help,” Roeth said. “We need every position, from hospital administrators to salesmen.”

Roles that have to be filled include improvements in technology, advertising to promote healthy lifestyles and working to sustain the cost of health care, Saha said.

In technology, what people know today will change tomorrow, Saha said. The panel agreed that health care would change substantially as technology improved but said there are other elements to making improvements.

“The health care system needs to find new ways to motivate healthy lifestyles,” Liston said. “Obesity and some diseases can be prevented by following a healthy lifestyle.”

Gordon Holbein, a senior lecturer in the Gatton School, said the panelists helped show students that what is taught in class is not just theory, but is applied by real-world executives.

“These lectures are designed to create world-ready students that see the connections between leadership, technology, society, government and economics,” Holbein said.

Many students said Wacker and the other panelists helped them realize the opportunities for business students in the health care field.

“As business students, not only can we learn to become a CEO of a company, but rather a CEO that has the ability to make a difference in the field of health care,” said Colin Dempsey, a business management and Spanish freshman.