Healthcare in the U.S. is facing tremendous challenges, and it needs people who are up to the task of leading in a new direction. Collaborative and adaptive healthcare leaders with the skills and empathy to navigate the changes ahead are in high demand. By combining an MBA with a focus in healthcare management, you can prepare for an exciting career as a leader in a healthcare organization.
The American Journal of Medicine notes that leadership roles in healthcare organizations have traditionally been filled by clinicians who serve healthcare providers. However, with the advent of value-driven, patient-centered healthcare, the need for dedicated leaders trained in improving outcomes in both patient and community care has risen.
An MBA in healthcare management is one of many paths to leadership in the field of healthcare management. While traditional healthcare administration degrees offer a well-worn path to leadership positions, an MBA in healthcare management can offer a unique set of benefits. An MBA can equip you with the vision, insight and skills to incorporate contemporary business principles into running a healthcare organization. With these skills, you can successfully overcome challenges and find new opportunities to increase value while reducing risks and minimizing disruptions.
While these leaders don’t need to be trained in providing healthcare, they need to be able to work with providers as a team to increase their performance and the value of their healthcare services. An MBA in healthcare management can help achieve these aims by providing a business-focused mindset that is often lacking in healthcare organizations.
The Healthcare Management Experience
It’s an exciting time to be on the frontlines of innovation, and those who’ve chosen a healthcare management MBA are right at the forefront, influencing the future of healthcare in the U.S.
Healthcare leaders work toward optimizing healthcare outcomes, and that goal typically encompasses three objectives:
- Improving patient experience
- Improving population health
- Decreasing costs
These are lofty goals without easy implementations. However, an MBA with a focus on healthcare management can equip you with the skills you need to meet these challenges head-on.
Because healthcare organizations are struggling to balance the rising costs of care with improving patient experience, they are constantly seeking opportunities to deliver more efficient and effective services. Healthcare managers who have honed their financial strategies in an MBA program may have an edge in achieving these objectives when compared to those who simply study healthcare administration.
Healthcare administration programs allow leaders to bring together their understanding of business and the medical system. An MBA prepares professionals to understand all dimensions of a modern organization, including finance, marketing and operation. This preparation provides the unique insight needed to improve quality and performance.
What Does an MBA in Healthcare Management Prepare You To Do?
A healthcare management MBA is a more specialized and versatile credential than a master’s degree in healthcare administration. While it provides a solid curriculum in healthcare management, it also provides a broad base of coursework related to modern business practices. Because of this business background, graduates may have more career paths to choose from.
Healthcare organizations need strategic leaders who can take on the responsibility of improving workflows to increase efficiency, ensuring their financial sustainability and increasing the quality of patient care. These positions are often competitive. Combining the financial acumen of an MBA with a thorough understanding of healthcare management can give you the qualifications to stand out in a crowded pool of applicants.
The types of positions available for healthcare management MBA graduates are numerous. U.S. News reports that graduates with a healthcare-focused MBA have pursued careers such as:
- Healthcare consultant
- Corporate development associate
- Strategic project manager
- Pharmaceutical brand manager
- Hospital administrator
In addition to these careers, graduates of a healthcare management MBA program may find that their diversified skill set opens up a number of other career options. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, jobs for healthcare service managers are projected to grow much faster than average—32% between 2020 and 2030. The median annual income for medical and health services managers was $104,280 in May 2020, which is significantly higher than the median U.S. income of $35,805.
What Topics Are Covered in a Healthcare Management MBA?
While all MBAs look at how to run organizations efficiently and effectively—covering topics such as decision-making, marketing, finance and accounting—a healthcare management MBA goes further by adding coursework in these areas:
Healthcare Law and Policy
Complying with healthcare regulations is a critical part of a healthcare administrator’s job. There is a wide range of complex laws and ethical guidelines that healthcare providers must follow. These regulations dictate many aspects of the daily operations carried out by healthcare facilities, so being familiar with them is a must for all healthcare leaders.
Healthcare marketing is a niche field that relies on specific principles outside of traditional marketing. While demographics and discounts are major drivers in business marketing, these elements are not nearly as relevant in healthcare marketing. Instead, effective healthcare marketing relies more heavily on patient success stories, personal relationships, public relations and educational content. Healthcare marketing is also subject to regulations from state and federal oversight boards that closely govern what claims can be made.
Healthcare Information and Management
With the passage of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) in 1996, national standards were created to protect patients’ sensitive health information from being released without their knowledge. Healthcare organizations must analyze and protect data at all levels to comply with medical, ethical and legal standards. Healthcare administrators must understand permitted usage, disclosures and compliance issues related to these regulations.
Organizational behavior studies the varying ways people behave in groups. Managing the competing interests of individuals as well as those of the group requires understanding all the dynamics involved. These principles are applied in healthcare to increase job performance and satisfaction, promote innovation and increase the efficiency of organizations.
While financial management is covered in all MBAs, healthcare involves some unique issues. Unlike other industries primarily driven by a profit motive, many healthcare organizations are nonprofit. However, this doesn’t mean the healthcare industry is unconcerned with sound financial management principles. A survey published in BMC Health Services Research shows a strong correlation between good financial management in hospitals and the quality of patient care.
Specific factors statistically related to quality of care include hospital profitability, financial leverage, asset liquidity, operating efficiency and costs. A healthcare management MBA can give you the financial management skills to effectively address all these elements with the underlying goal of improving patient care.
MBA programs typically require group work and collaboration, helping to develop soft skills—those related to how people interact with each other—that can make a meaningful difference in the healthcare industry.
A healthcare management MBA can help equip you with the skills you need to succeed in the rapidly evolving healthcare industry. It may offer you a solid advantage if you’re trying to break into this challenging field. Traditional MBAs try to provide the knowledge needed for success in business administration, and healthcare administration programs typically focus only on those skills needed for the smooth running of a healthcare organization. But an MBA in healthcare management may give you a powerful combination of the skills, knowledge and business savvy needed to solve unique operational challenges and drive healthcare organizations forward.