Healthcare Management

Health care is a large industry facing complex management challenges. The sector accounts for more than 16% of the economy, it is still growing, it employs a majority of women, and it often fails to meet the needs of an aging and increasingly diverse population. All segments of the industry face challenges—managerial and economic—from providers of care, health plans and insurers, suppliers of drugs and biotechnology products, and the vendors for other products and services that support these organizations. All of this complicated by new and ambitious federal and state health reforms.

Health care is different from other industries. Although the demands for leadership skills, strategic thinking, analytic ability and financing knowhow draw from the core MBA curriculum, health care leaders also face unique issues:

  • rapidly advancing scientific, technologic, and medical knowledge that can outstrip the ability to evaluate its effectiveness
  • the major presence of nonprofit institutions needing access to capital
  • the need to mobilize effectively patient-centered IT
  • third-party payer control of prices
  • extensive government regulation and critical control of standards by external professional organizations
  • the need for partnering between hospitals and physicians that is more effective and less divisive

Academic Objectives
At the completion of the concentration, MBA students will be able to recognize these industry differences and have the knowledge and competencies required to make a difference as an effective leader.

Concentration in Healthcare Management (3 courses: 2 required, and 1 elective)

  • The Health System (MBAH480 — required)
  • Health Economics (MBAH410 — required) or Health Care Financial Strategy (MBAH436 — required)
  • Health Care Information Technology (MBAH448 — elective)
  • Health Care Quality and Measurement (MBAH429 — elective)
  • Health Care Law and Ethics (MBAH481 — elective)
  • Health Policy (MBAH575 — elective)
  • Seminar in Health Services Research (MBAH578 — elective)
  • Seminar in International Health (MBAH577 —  elective)
  • Health Care Practicum (MBAH501 — Elective)


MBAH480 The Health System (Required)

The Health System provides a strategic overview of the health system to help students better understand the context in which health care organizations operate. We will examine both the historical roots of the U.S. health care system and possible trends likely to affect those who use it, work in it, and pay for it. We will give special attention to the recent debate and legislation concerning health reform in the U.S.

Students will gain a basic understanding of the political process and of how government and private stakeholders operate within this complex system. We will understand unique aspects of the health care workforce and implications for health care managers. We will explore major issues of quality, access, payment, financing, disparities by race and gender, international comparisons on quality and cost, and others. We will compare the costs and outcomes for U.S. health care to other benchmark countries. 3 credits

MBAH410 Health Economics (Required)

Health Economics examines the systematic economic forces at work in health care that relate to the performance of the U.S. health care system. Performance of U.S. health care is contrasted with a number of international health systems throughout the course. Using readings from the health economics literature, we study the way markets and competition work in health care. We focus on some of the anomalous aspects of the health industry, such as health insurance (both social and private insurance), the role of technology, the problem of market failure due to asymmetric information and externalities, and the role of professional licensing, patents, and other government regulation. We consider the supply-side implications of licensure requirements for many health professions on the management decisions in the health industry. 3 credits

MBAH436 Health Care Financial Strategy (Required)

Health Care Financial Strategy is devoted to financial strategy and related tools for formulating and implementing strategy. Students will bring together learning from health care marketing, health care strategic management, and health care finance. The course covers mergers/divestitures and health care governance. Participants develop financial models of a start-up health care business and develop a business plan, a key business tool for implementing new programs or strategic change in existing organizations. 3 credits

MBAH448 Health Care Information Technology (Elective)

Health Care Information Technology introduces students to the concepts and management activities related to information systems in health care organizations. The understanding of technology cannot only reside within an Information Systems division. It is critical that managers of every function understand key components of IT in order to be successful in today's health care delivery system. Included in the course are sessions examining kinds of information systems, the way decisions are made about new system technologies and vendors, and how new systems are implemented. This course will be a blend of general IT concepts and practical problems facing health care organizations related to the acquisition, use, and management of information technology to assure the safe delivery of quality care in an affordable manner. 3 credits

MBAH429 Health Care Quality and Measurement (Elective)

The health care industry is struggling to change complex and often unwieldy and ineffective operations to ones that are responsive, customer-centered, and economical. Lean production, six sigma, and statistical process control -- common in other industries -- are finding their way into health care delivery and management. The course also focuses on the principles of and practice of health care quality improvement, addressing theories and concepts of quality measurement, management and patient safety, along with analytic methods for evaluating quality. Students will assess quality measurement and management policies of government agencies and health plans and carry out projects in their own, or in local, health care organizations. 3 credits

MBAH481 Health Care Law and Ethics (Elective)

Health Care Law and Ethics addresses major legal and ethical principles and issues relevant to health care administration, including (1) an overview of the structure and procedures of courts and legal public institutions that regulate health care and (2) legal relationships between patients and providers, providers and institutions, and patients and institutions. The course also addresses (3) the legal structure of various forms of corporate organization, including profit and not-for-profit; and (4) legal issues relating to admission and discharge, emergency treatment, medical records, and mental health treatment.

In each of these areas, we address certain policy issues of major importance. Finally, the course presents an ethical analytic framework grounded in legal principles and in the philosophical principles of beneficence, nonmaleficence, autonomy, and justice, applied in cases and readings to the difficult ethical challenges in health care administration. The course is taught in two parts: Part I is Health Law, and Part II is Health Ethics. As students will see, there is a reason for addressing this material in this sequence. 3 credits

MBAH575 Health Policy (Elective)

The production, selling, and buying of health care is not like the production, selling, and buying of other goods or services. There is a major public role in health care. Regardless of one's perspective on what the proper bounds of government's role should be, there is no question that government's current role is substantial. This large public role makes "health policy" something students need to understand -- and, at times, help influence -- if they are to be effective health care managers. This course includes key determinants of health policy and its implementation. It will pay special attention to the complex current debate over health reform and the future of the Obama legislation. It will expose students to health services research studies so students can intelligently consume the important body of research on cost, quality, patient safety, and other issues. 3 credits

MBAH578 Seminar in Health Services Research (Elective)

Health services are profoundly affected by the behavior of patients, providers, and others, reacting to incentives, professional commitments, and all of the other imaginable influences on how care gets organized and delivered, to whom, under what conditions, at what cost, and with what consequences for quality and access. Health services research is a field of study that aims to understand these relationships and improve results in health care delivery and financing programs. The purpose of this seminar is to give students a more sophisticated understanding of this essential body of work -- a body of work that can have important implications for the actions and responsibilities of the serious health care administrator. The course will allow the interested student to understand basic methods of health services research through careful examination and critique of important work in the field, and through conducting a health services research project in collaboration with faculty. 3 credits

MBAH577 Seminar in International Health (Elective)

The purpose of this seminar is to assist interested students to understand the way health systems are organized in other countries and what systematic forces are at work to create variations in the performance of those systems in creating healthy people. Students will each identify two countries of interest, one developed, and one low- or middle-income country. All student presentations and writing assignments will focus on these countries, using the U.S. as a reference nation.

Major topics in the seminar will be measuring health, national health and disease priorities, the relation between income and health, theory of household health production, creating access to care, approaches for financing care and paying providers, measuring and promoting equity, roles of international organizations, and related issues. Students will prepare a monograph on their countries compiled from their written products on these topics and make a final presentation on their findings. 3 credits

MBAH501 Health Care Practicum (Elective)

Students wanting practical, hands-on experience may conduct a project or analysis of a local health care problem. This may include working on some special project or supporting an activity in a local hospital, health plan, or government agency. It may also include data collection and analysis. Alternatively, students may be seeking broad exposure to a health care organization and conduct a specific management project that benefits a sponsoring organization. Students will write a paper and make a final presentation to other students and faculty. 3 credits