Written by S.M. Audsley

Many are called to help those less fortunate than themselves, and much of that hard, important work is occurring in the healthcare field. Merging business tools with healthcare is becoming a growing field and a career for those interested in an MBA in healthcare.

“Health is wealth” -- this common saying could not be more true in today’s hectic and fast-paced world where markets don’t close and the world keeps turning, even if you are sick and need to stay home from work. Innovations and changes to the healthcare field are having larger impacts on business and on bottom lines across emerging markets than ever before. Students who are interested in business, learning more about economic trends and how markets work, can apply the knowledge they will learn in an MBA program to the healthcare field. Connecting business MBA skills and applying them to find solutions to issues in healthcare, could be the most empowering and important work you will do. It also will launch you into a growing career path that has tons of potential to make a real difference in this world.

Take for example GiftedMom, a digital health platform in Cameroon that gives pregnant women and mothers across Africa access to vital health information and care. Co-founded by Dr. Agbor  Ashumanyi  Ako,  GiftedMom “is able to expand faster than traditional health care systems and the start-up aims to reach 10 million women in the next 10 years.” This is just one example among many of what is possible when the best of business and healthcare are combined, and it was awarded a 2019 Oslo Business for Peace Award for its great work. 

If you are interested in working at the intersection of these two areas, an MBA in healthcare is a great way to do so. Here are some more reasons why you might want to consider an MBA in healthcare.

1. What’s an MBA in healthcare?

What’s the difference between an MBA in healthcare and a traditional MBA? A traditional MBA degree trains you in the necessary managerial skills in business administration. The standard MBA won’t cover how to apply those particular skills to the healthcare field. Managerial skills in healthcare are similar, but different to those in a traditional business setting. An MBA in healthcare will focus studies on hospital management, health promotion, research, financial management, and more. With many universities offering high-level degrees in this field, students have a variety of options to select from. Financial health is important for a fully functioning organization, hospital, and healthcare facility, whether it be private or public practice. Mismanagement can lead to the closure of these important organizations and facilities, so an MBA in healthcare gives you the knowledge you’ll need to make sure you keep the doors open to places where healing happens. 

2. Who is it for?

An MBA in healthcare is ideal for the student who loves to geek out about numbers and managerial logistics, and also wants to make a difference in the lives of others as an innovative problem solver in the healthcare industry. Holly Regan for SoftwareAdvice.com writes, “An MBA is also ideal for physicians who aspire to the administrative side of healthcare: for example, managing a clinic or hospital. This degree can provide the foundational business, operational and financial knowledge essential for such positions.” Those aspiring to high-level management positions, that make a difference in the healthcare field, are also encouraged to consider this course of study. 

3. It’s worth the time and money

Aside from putting your skills and acumen to good use in managing the business side of healthcare facilities, you’ll find that an MBA in healthcare is well worth your time and money. A growing industry, estimated at $2.26 trillion, the healthcare field is a burgeoning market and is looking to fill positions that require highly skilled professionals who can manage the business needs in healthcare. Healthcareadministrationdegree explains, “Overall, a career in hospital administration is very lucrative and isn't too time intensive. Some programs can be completed in as little as two or three years. Considering the cost of education and the salary received as a hospital administration, it is obvious that the degree is worth the time and money.” Average annual salaries are high. According to an analysis performed for The New York Times by Compdata Surveys, one can expect $584,000 on average for an insurance chief executive officer, $386,000 for a hospital C.E.O. and $237,000 for a hospital administrator, compared with $306,000 for a surgeon and $185,000 for a general doctor.

4. It’s a growing field

In a recent U.S. News and World Report article, editor Farran Powell shares how much of a growing field an MBA in healthcare is. “Jobs in the health care sector have become more complex, which require more experienced staff and an MBA is a way to fill that need,” says Jeff McNish, assistant dean of career development at the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business. “The pressure to maintain or manage costs through business practices has become more important than ever and the MBA is in greater demand than ever before.”

Innovations are happening from those who know the ins and outs of healthcare the best. For example, Dr. Andres Jimenez, already a practicing physician, realized the importance of the intersection of health and business, so he went back to school to get his MBA. Then he founded ImplementHIT, a company that provides online training options and software for healthcare professionals. In a recent interview, Alyssa Sunkin-Strube, reporting for Cornell News spoke with Dr. Jimenez, and he said, “Healthcare is evolving very quickly. I’ve gained a deeper understanding of health care regulation, and how it connects to so many different aspects of healthcare and the market. I’ve gained a set of tools I use daily to critically evaluate new policy, develop ideas to meaningfully improve health care and create advanced strategies to continue to grow my company.” Due to how quickly this field is growing, you won’t want to hesitate on applying to an MBA in healthcare now, so you can reap the benefits upon degree completion later with a sweet new job.

5. There are great career options

There is no doubt graduates with an MBA in healthcare are poised to launch themselves into a great career. Some jobs that benefit from an MBA in healthcare include, but are not limited to, the following: hospital chief executive officer, hospital chief financial officer, hospital administrators, product managers (especially in pharmaceuticals), medical practice managers, and more.

Thinking outside the box also pays off, both financially and with doing good for the world. An example of how business and healthcare overlap and work together to provide services and fulfill the needs of people is the work that Edward Booty does for Allied World Healthcare (AWH). Having worked in consulting and later the National Health Service in his native UK, he then decided to leave for Asia and start AWH, which connects underserved communities to essential healthcare support and services, using a range of offline-first Android apps (Curis) to enable members of the community to become 'navigators' of local services and support. The organization collects data to understand community needs and creates an affordable marketplace of products and services for the world’s poorest that fills gaps in public sector health delivery.

"We have created employment in our communities as our access managers are hired from the communities, to conduct health data collection and provide a local support channel, which is then consolidated and sent to the healthcare professionals to design programmes and events," he told The Business Times. "I'm pretty fixated on not taking grants and focusing on shared value for patients, public sector and private sector. We have to be sustainable from the outset as there is a huge ethical requirement when you enter such communities. Shutting the company down when funding runs out ends up creating a problem as these people don't have the tools to plug that gap you left."

Another figure in the growing field of healthcare business, Jason Kang, shared his path to his profession with Poets & Quants. He said, “I started my career in medical device consulting, then worked for GE Healthcare before attending the full-time MBA program at Kellogg. I was determined to one day be a general manager of a global healthcare company. [...] I realized healthcare is still the most exciting place to be. I’ve never regretted my decision. [Since then] I have been working on various exciting healthcare assignments globally.”

With such varied career options and almost guaranteed high salaries, pursuing an MBA in healthcare is a very desirable option. Not only will you be able to make a difference in the world, you will be likely doing challenging, exciting business administration work that has instant implications and positive outcomes. Health is indeed wealth -- in this case, you’ll not only be securing your own personal financial future, but also working towards facilitating wellbeing for all in need of fully functioning healthcare facilities and organizations. 

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