While it is possible to earn a degree in healthcare management entirely online, most programs require a combination of online and on-campus study. At the bachelor's degree level, these are usually business administration degree programs with a healthcare management concentration. They include courses in leadership, finance and marketing that emphasize how these topics are utilized in the field of healthcare. At the graduate level, students can earn master's degrees in healthcare management or Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees with an emphasis in healthcare management.
Some jobs in healthcare management, like those of nursing home or hospital administrators, require a state license, which is obtained through a combination of education, hands-on training and certification testing. Many healthcare management professionals opt to pursue certification from organizations such as the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management.
Healthcare Management Bachelor's Degree
An online healthcare management bachelor's degree program prepares graduates to pursue various management opportunities in the healthcare field. Emphasis is placed on organizational leadership, as well as containing the costs of and improving the performance and accessibility of health services. Healthcare management programs combine an extensive business education with a curriculum focusing on various issues within the healthcare industry.
Students gain valuable accounting, marketing, management and human resource management skills. They should also be well-versed in areas such as organization of healthcare programs, healthcare delivery models and the role healthcare plays in the political process.
Program Information and Requirements
An online bachelor's degree in healthcare management is typically a four-year degree, consisting of approximately 120 credits. Bachelor's degree programs are also sometimes offered as a business administration degree with a concentration in healthcare management. Distance learning students use online learning systems such as Blackboard to turn in assignments, take advantage of online tutoring and communicate with professors as well as their peers.
Students taking part in online classes should have access to a DSL or cable Internet connection, as well as an updated Internet browser such as Internet Explorer or Firefox. Software such as Apple QuickTime Player, Macromedia Flash Player and RealPlayer may also be required.
A healthcare management curriculum draws from both business and health-related topics, equipping graduates with the overall business skills to thrive in a managerial healthcare setting.
Healthcare Management Fundamentals
This course provides students with an overview of the organization and governance of healthcare organizations. Basic management issues such as performance improvement, leadership, workplace diversity, communication strategies and risk assessment are explored.
An online accounting course introduces the fundamental procedures and concepts in financial accounting. The course covers the basic accounting cycle, double-entry systems, corporate capital accounts, financial reports and budgeting.
Healthcare Information Systems
This course details how information systems are utilized in various healthcare organizations. Emphasis is placed on the use of data management systems, implementing information systems, governmental security measures and emerging Web technologies.
Human Resources Management
Focus is placed on human resource planning, organizational structure, performance evaluation and employee recruitment. Often times, human resource management classes offered as part of a healthcare management program emphasize the process of finding and hiring healthcare professionals.
Master's Degree Program in Healthcare Management
An online master's-level healthcare management degree prepares graduates to address the challenges and issues associated with the many technological, managerial and financial changes impacting the U.S. healthcare system. Focus is often placed on management skills in areas such as financing, leadership, risk assessment, ethical decision making and resource allocation, as well as making advanced assessment and judgment decisions in business situations. Topics covered include strategic planning, establishing community coalitions and the impact of politics and public policy on the U.S. healthcare system. Master's-level students are often times professionals already working within the healthcare industry.
Program Information and Requirements
Online master's degree programs in healthcare management usually take around two years to complete. Some online programs may require students to take part in real-time, online courses via chat sessions and videoconferencing, while others allow students to access course materials at their own convenience through podcasts and other formats.
Online students have access to a number of traditional student services, including library materials, academic advising and career services. They are also able to interact with fellow students via blogs, discussion forums and more.
Master's-level coursework includes the traditional courses you would take as part of a MBA program, as well as healthcare-specific courses covering topics such as physician practice management and health policy.
An online organizational behavior course explores the formation and structures of organizations. The class looks at the behavior of both individuals and small groups, as well as how the structure of an organization impacts performance.
Healthcare Legal and Ethical Issues
A course covering the legal and ethical aspects of working in healthcare presents students with a variety of potential conflicts when managing a healthcare organization. Topics covered include breach-of-care liability, regulatory compliance, legal reporting obligations, fair employment practices and statutory law.
Financial Management in Healthcare
A financial management course offered as part of a healthcare management program focuses on the financial aspects unique to the healthcare industry. Topics covered include financial planning, risk management, charting of accounts, healthcare reimbursement systems, cost analysis and health insurance issues.
According to the BLS, the median salary for healthcare management was $94,500 in 2015. For graduates at the bachelor's level, employment settings may include hospitals, ambulatory care facilities, nursing homes, government agencies, outpatient care facilities, community health agencies and home health agencies. Potential job titles, meanwhile, include hospital human resources specialist, medical office manager, field health officer, managed healthcare administrator, health education supervisor, medical records administrator and billing supervisor.
Master's level healthcare management programs give health industry professionals the skills necessary for advancement into managerial roles. Potential advanced career opportunities include health services manager, hospital administrator, medical records manager, patient accounts supervisor, health information officer, social services manager and nursing home administrator. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment of healthcare-related managers increased by 17% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov).
Individuals in the health care industry wanting to advance into a management position may find the training they need online through a bachelor's degree program in healthcare management or business administration. Also students may pursue a MBA with an emphasis on healthcare management.