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Alumna’s virtual hospital class project considered for province-wide implementation

UFred Alumna Natalie McMurtry is making a significant impact on a new model for healthcare with the Edmonton Zone Virtual Hospital (EZVH). The virtual hospital delivers technology-enabled, hospital-level care at home for individuals living with chronic or complex diseases.


The virtual hospital was an idea she had for a class project. The aim is to reduce admissions to hospitals for patients with complex medical illnesses and, if they do come to the hospital, they are staying a much shorter time.

Natalie started working on her MBA at the University of Alberta but transferred to UFred’s Sandermoen School of Business (SSB) because it offered the flexibility she needed with four kids and a full-time job. Besides, she said SSB offered a course selection that other universities did not, so she enrolled in the Innovation Leadership stream of the Executive MBA program.


The faculty at SSB is highly qualified, some holding several credentials, and have years of corporate and consulting experience, said the Dean of SSB, Dr. Donald McCain.  


“The innovation courses develop the skills of intrapreneurs to revitalize organizations, linking theory and best practices to corporate execution for real change,” he added.


Using course concepts on innovation, intrapreneurship and systems thinking, Natalie formed a panel to discuss the innovative EZVH.


“In the corporate intrapreneurship class, I was able to more clearly define the steps and stages to bringing a new innovation or project through the cycle from idea to execution,” Natalie said. “It allowed me to apply my learnings immediately and led to taking the project forward for funding and implementation,” she added.


Dr. McCain said that for corporate change to happen, people must be skilled in systems thinking. He added that SSB professors help students hone that skill – they analyze a company and make decisions with an understanding of the implications across the enterprise.


“While these courses helped Natalie, they are but a sample of a curriculum built for learning and application, supporting the student while adding value to their organizations,” he said.


Now, the EZVH is being evaluated for scale across the province of Alberta.


Beside her class project, Natalie says the International Field Study in Amsterdam was a highlight of her EMBA experience.


“It was a time to actually meet other students and have a dedicated amount of study time while doing some travelling,” she said.


If there’s one piece of advice she could offer to people contemplating an MBA or EMBA, it’s to be sure they’re ready.


“Ensure you and your family are ready for the adventure as it is a big time commitment, but worth it,” she said.


Learn more about the EZVH here:

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