The leaders shaping the business of health care today and in the future need much more than an understanding of industry practices and principals. Constantly changing forces including technology, rising population, government policy, and evolving consumer demand require administrators that are able to make skilled business decisions.
Leaders with an MBA are uniquely qualified for these roles, possessing the business skills needed to thrive in the constantly shifting landscape of the health care field. Here is an overview of 3 valuable business skills changing health care now.
Communication within health care administration has moved away from face-to-face meetings/interactions, and even beyond simple email. Health care systems are larger than ever, encompassing entire networks of hospitals, outpatient facilities, and practices. Maintaining effective communication across large care networks requires an ability to frame different communications correctly and using the best method for each communication.
As systems grow and change, “a leader’s message must resonate and provide clear direction during a time of many challenges and unknowns,” according to B.E. Smith. The transparency and effectiveness of a leader’s communication style sets the tone for all employees in the network, and as such a communication plan should be clearly documented and utilized. What messages are best conveyed in writing? When communicating something that affects all employees in the system, would a large-scale video conference be best, or should communication be provided to managers to determine how best to present the topic to specific groups? How will opportunities for feedback from employees and other stakeholders be provided and responded to? Those with an MBA have the skills to design and implement a strong communication plan, collaborating with the marketing team and other internal/external subject matter experts to assure success.
2. Data Management and Analytics
In order to achieve goals such as meeting meaningful use requirements and better capturing revenue, health care administrators need a robust analytical skill set. As the amount of medical information that is captured and stored continues to expand, administrators must understand, and think beyond how that data is stored. Administrators must also consider how data can be used to demonstrate trends and identify potential opportunities for financial gain. Data analysis can also help health care administrators discover gaps in patient care that need to be addressed and better understand where costs can be cut. Further, data can provide insight into process flow issues, allowing administrators to introduce new efficiencies. A thorough understanding of the data available and what it demonstrates, also allows for assessment of risk for data breaches, fraud, and other threats to a health care network as a whole. The analysis of the vast amount of data available to health care managers, along with the adaptability and change management skills necessary to successfully drive transformation using that data, will result in both large and small changes within a health care network.
3. Shaping the Workplace Culture
The health care industry as a whole faces a continuing workforce shortage. Health care networks are competing to hire and retain skilled workers. Cultivating a positive corporate culture can prevent costly turnover in staff, and give a competitive edge in recruiting. Health care managers should actively shape this culture, defining and communicating corporate values that employee input helps determine. Encouraging suggestions and feedback regarding workplace culture allows employees to “buy in” and participate. Using the communications and data analytics skills previously discussed allows a health care administrator to gather ideas from employees and analyze the information to recognize both positive and negative patterns within the workplace culture of a health care network, or a part of the network.
Fostering an atmosphere of collaboration, rather than the traditional “us vs them” mentality between clinicians and administration, encourages positive interactions that maximize stakeholder satisfaction, both internally and externally. As health care networks continue to grow, so does the importance of health care leaders who can create, implement, and actively model a thoughtfully formulated workplace culture plan.
An MBA degree is the first step you can take toward becoming a leader in a changing health care system. Understanding the value of communication, analytics and workplace culture can only help as you take the next step in your career.