The Ethics of Healthcare Administration

The Southern Utah University (SUU) Master of Business Administration (MBA) – Healthcare Administration Emphasis online program prepares graduates to consider ethics in their careers with a curriculum that synthesizes foundational business and healthcare concepts, including medicine, science, finance, law and ethics.

Professionals in the industry are continually challenged with ethical issues in the workplace, facing limited resources and tough decisions on a daily basis. Therefore, a curriculum that prepares professionals to make the best decisions in the interests of all involved constituents has never been more necessary. Courses, including Policy, Law, Ethics, and Regulations, prepare graduates to address these challenges and become the ethical leaders needed in the profession.

Established Industry Codes of Ethics

The American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) is an industry professional society with more than 48,000 healthcare executives committed to integrity, lifelong learning, leadership and diversity and inclusion. The ACHE’s comprehensive Code of Ethics serves as the standard of conduct for members with the purpose of maintaining or enhancing the overall quality of life, dignity and well-being of every individual needing healthcare.

ACHE ethical precepts serve as a studied model of ethics in healthcare administration. Members commit to responsibilities to the profession, patients, the organization, their employees and the community. Highlights of their commitments include the following:

To the profession:

  • Conducting professional activities with honesty, integrity, respect, fairness and good faith
  • Complying with all laws pertaining to healthcare
  • Maintaining competence through assessment and ongoing professional development

To patients:

  • Building trust with all patients
  • Not allowing discriminatory organizational practices
  • Ensuring confidentiality and privacy for patients

To the organization:

  • Working to ensure a resource allocation process that reflects fairness and equity
  • Creating an environment in which clinical and leadership mistakes are minimized

To employees:

  • Creating a work environment that promotes ethical and equitable conduct
  • Providing an environment that promotes the proper use of employees’ skills

To community:

  • Partnering with other organizations to meet the health needs of the community
  • Working to support access to health services for all people

Another important standard of ethics in the industry is the American Medical Association’s Code of Medical Ethics. Established in 1847 and continually enhanced through professional opinions, this code encompasses the following principles:

  • Competency and compassion
  • Professionalism and reporting of non-professional activity
  • Respect for the law and recognition of when legal changes are needed
  • Respect for the rights of patients, colleagues and health professionals
  • Value of advancing the field’s knowledge and of continuing professional development
  • Freedom for professionals to choose patients, employees and surrounding environment
  • Responsibility to improve the public health
  • Responsibility to patients
  • Belief in access to medical care for all people

Today’s Most Important Healthcare Concerns

Often, the principles of healthcare ethics collide with the financial realities of our economic system, which presents challenges for professionals seeking to uphold the values set forth by the ACHE and AMA. Here are a few examples:

Beneficence (doing good) vs. autonomy (respecting patient wishes): Patients have the legal right to know the whole truth about their health conditions so they can make the most informed decisions, but ethical challenges arise when providers, patients, insurers and families differ on care, or when doctors have to balance time with disclosing all known information.

Delay of care to ensure costs are covered: Professionals want fair access to medical care, but health system/physician/insurer interactions often stand in the way of timely coverage. The healthcare industry and its advocates continue to work with political leaders to create a system without wait times that compromise health.

Care for undocumented patients: What should the profession do about undocumented patients who need care but do not have money or insurance? This remains an ongoing issue as the numbers of cases continue to rise.

Costs and pricing transparency: Widespread availability of lifesaving surgeries, treatments and drugs makes our healthcare system one of the best in the world, but skyrocketing costs prevent equal access to the best care. How do we balance these elements and also create a system in which prices are more transparent to patients at the time of care, so that they can make informed decisions?

Data privacy: Big data is essential in delivering optimal care, but it presents many legal and ethical challenges in protecting patient data and privacy.

Graduates of SUU’s program will be ready to balance their management and operational expertise with a deep understanding of the intricate ethical concerns in healthcare. Healthcare leaders with the training to navigate today’s challenges are in high demand nationally and globally.

Learn more about Southern Utah University’s online Master of Business Administration – Healthcare Administration program.

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