Fully online graduate certificate programs are available in health care quality management. These online programs are typically intended for students who already possess a bachelor's degree or master's degree in a related field. For employment, medical and health services managers typically need a minimum of a bachelor's degree, although the requirements vary greatly by employer.
Health Care Quality Management Certificate
These certificate programs are offered entirely online, and some schools also have an in-person program. Students learn quality process improvement and risk management skills tailored to the health industry. Students must possess an undergraduate or graduate degree depending on the school's requirements, typically in a health-related discipline. Credits in these programs may be transferable towards further degree studies or qualify for continuing education credit.
Program Information and Requirements
Online health care quality and risk management certificate programs consist of 1-5 courses or about 120 hours of study. Some require a capstone project at the culmination of the program. Students may be able to complete registration and begin classes at their own pace, or may have to adhere to the sponsoring school's academic calendar.
Requirements for most online programs include a valid e-mail address and access to a computer equipped with high-speed Internet and a current version of a browser such as Microsoft Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox. Not all browsers will work with some programs, so technical specifications should be checked before enrollment. Courses are typically delivered via a course management system such as ANGEL or Blackboard.
List of Common Courses
Online programs in health care quality and risk management are offered as separate courses, or as one course covering several different topics. Some common courses are listed below.
Process Improvement and Strategic Management
Students learn evolving skills in health care quality-improvement applications and methods. The focus is on effective use of techniques and tools available for health care managers.
Health Care Laws and Regulations
The standards, regulations and laws associated with health care management are examined in this class. Accreditation of health care organizations, patient safety goals, state license requirements and standards are topics of study.
Information Systems Management in Health Care
Students learn to implement, use and maintain different medically-related computer systems. Systems related to database management, electronic medical records and managerial transactions are covered.
Career Information for Graduates
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for medical and health services managers was projected to grow by 17%, faster than the average for all occupations, from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). This growth is expected to be driven in part by the need to control costs while improving quality and efficiency due to the accountability demands of insurance companies and Medicare. As of May 2015 the BLS reported that medical and health services managers made a median annual income of $94,500. The top industry employing these managers was medical and surgical hospitals, followed by doctors' offices, nursing homes, outpatient clinics and home health care centers.
Continuing Education and Certification Information
For those wishing to pursue further education in health care management and administration, the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) reported 89 accredited master's degree programs in this area in 2015. A master's degree in health-related concentrations or administration can provide more opportunities for employment in the field. Doctoral degrees in health care administration are also available, and online options are available for both master's degree and Ph.D. students.
In an online graduate certificate program in health care quality management students with a bachelor's or master's degree in a related field may study management strategy, health care law and information systems management. This training will prepare them for careers as medical and health services managers.