Current and aspiring healthcare leaders are preparing for an evolution of many facets of the industry, as their roles require them to navigate the financial, operational and logistical issues facing organizations and patients. Among the points of primary concern are rapidly increasing costs, systemic inefficiencies, disruptive technologies and economic disparities in healthcare. Here, we discuss some of the current issues that students in the online Master of Business Administration (MBA) – Healthcare Administration Emphasis program are studying in order to provide organizational leadership upon graduation.
Virtual Care, IoT and Remote Medicine
A potential solution is emerging to address healthcare access and affordability crises. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated a trend toward virtual care and remote medicine through smartphones. Mobile phones are now a conduit for telehealth visits, which lower care costs, enable doctors to see more patients and add convenience for patients who can schedule visits from home or work. When connected to patient portals, smartphones also streamline operational costs and allow patients to schedule appointments, pay bills and receive test results and other communications.
The use of internet of things (IoT) devices is quickly gaining momentum as disruptive technologies enable health practitioners to remotely monitor patient health and gather information, including blood pressure, heart rate and blood sugar levels. Long-term data collection will enable more intelligent, timelier decision-making by practitioners in order to reduce declining health and mortality.
Big Data in Healthcare Management
Institutions involved in healthcare management are heavily investing in big data research to complement practitioners’ expertise. With the help of technology tools like CRM software, portals and “digital front door” mobile applications, providers can collect massive amounts of accurate data. Experts in analytics convert this data into actionable and contextual information that informs clinical decision-making and improves patient care. As a result, professionals are increasingly leveraging data from disparate sources to provide insights and innovations that would otherwise be impossible.
These innovations’ outcomes include utilizing patient care data to discover what works best for specific populations. In addition, medical professionals are using cohort analyses to correlate types of care and root causes to outcomes in utilization management. Imaging informatics often inform radiology protocols, and IoT devices monitor and track patient health data. Analytics tools identify potential fraud and malpractice, and predictive analytics can mitigate pharmaceutical costs.
As demonstrated by the COVID-19 pandemic, people are willing to share personal information when officials communicate the benefits of tracing apps or track-and-trace systems. Wearable technology and online activities also collect personal data, giving providers a more accurate picture of when and where to intervene. Insurance providers also use advanced predictive technology to better understand risk and set premiums more accurately.
Cybersecurity and Data Breaches
Information technology (IT) demonstrates the potential to revolutionize healthcare outcomes in many positive ways, but this trend comes with the risk of security and regulatory compliance issues. While IT departments in healthcare organizations struggle with personnel shortages, cybersecurity breaches are hitting all-time highs. In 2021, cyber-attacks affected 45 million individuals, up from 34 million in 2020 and 14 million in 2018, according to Critical Insights. Additionally, the number of affected individuals increased by 32% from 2020 to 2021.
These startling statistics point to an administrative and IT crisis in containing the flow of data beyond the patient and provider. The costs of combating cyber criminals and preventing data breaches and ransomware hacks are significant. When attacks are successful, they can be financially crippling to organizations, which is why nearly 50% of healthcare organizations surveyed by PwC increased their cyber budgets in 2021. Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation technologies in cybersecurity are among the most promising tools in the arsenal of healthcare organizations.
Health System Disparities and Healthcare Affordability
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed healthcare system inequities to the media and the population. Certain populations were more susceptible due to lack of healthcare and medicine accessibility, poor nutrition and fitness. In the long run, investments in addressing healthcare inequities will reduce healthcare spending, but in the short term, it may result in higher prices. Increasing racial and ethnic diversity in clinical trials is a critical need, especially given the pandemic in the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries. Additionally, health organizations have allocated millions to address the social determinants of health, which include transportation and housing.
New ways of working, including remote work for some industry professionals, can reduce healthcare costs. Health systems are also rethinking real estate spending. As more employers increase work-from-home options and reconsider the allocation of space between business functions that don’t generate revenue or patient care, this trend should improve healthcare affordability. In addition to reducing costs, providers are utilizing technology-based efficiencies. For example, cloud services allow health organizations to reduce fixed assets and physical space requirements.
The healthcare administration field is quickly evolving, which is driving a need for employers to find future leaders with up-to-date training and a focus on delivering leadership and solutions. Graduates of this program should continue to see high employment demand and rewarding opportunities for the foreseeable future.