Health care is a dynamic field, often considered its own ever-changing and developing ecosystem.

Professionals working in health care must be prepared to live in commitment to life-long learning and continuous skill development.

To get a better idea about recent changes in the health care system and how professionals can remain updated, we spoke with Ben Spedding, Capella University’s health care administration faculty chair, and Carissa Grant, health care executive and adjunct professor of health care administration.

An Ever-Changing Industry

Many of the major changes affecting the health care industry can be categorized into the following four areas.

1. Movement toward value-based treatment (and away from fee-for-service)

Spedding explains that the recent movement toward value-based treatment means that health care providers are no longer paid each time a patient returns for additional care after initial treatment.

“For example, if someone comes in to get their knee replaced, the hospital will get paid a lump sum payment from the patient’s insurance company for that knee replacement,” he says. “This means the health care provider not only provides high-quality replacement of that joint but is invested in the patient’s full rehabilitation. If that patient doesn’t rehabilitate the way the best way possible, they will come back for additional care, and that will be at the expense of the health care system, not the patient.”

2. Emphasis of population health initiatives

Because of value-based treatment, providers are now more invested in engaging the general population in preventative health care and proper rehabilitation. This means providers are partnering to educate the public about health initiatives, with the goal of helping consumers avoid illness and injury and offering steps for quick, complete recovery if they do become sick or injured.

3. Focus on interprofessional care delivery teams

According to Spedding, there has been a breakdown of the separate silos in health care systems.  Physicians, nurses, labs, suppliers, pharmacies are no longer operating independently of each other. A shift in the system is taking place in which all these professions are starting to form teams to discuss and determine best practices and treatments for particular patients.

4. Impact of data and technology on the delivery and management of health care

Continually evolving technology means data has become the backbone of health care. “Data are being used to assess and direct resource allocations for specific issues within the health care industry,” Spedding notes. Electronic health records are also now available for all patients. The data from these records are used by the interprofessional care delivery teams to make the best decisions for each patient concerning treatment options.

Capella’s Dedication to Preparing Students

Capella University is committed to regularly updating its health care administration curriculum based on new developments in the field. Updates are made based on input from Capella’s partnerships with large health care employers.

“We have discussions about what types of skills they’re looking for when they hire staff,” says Spedding. “Then we work to build these skill levels and competencies into Capella’s health care curriculum. We also look to market trends to keep our curriculum relevant for students.”

The health care administration program itself focuses on authentic assessments, such as executive summaries, strategic plans, and compliance dashboards. This helps students develop content knowledge and also the skills required to perform in the workplace.

“We also provide licensure resources and learning assessments,” Grant mentions. “Scholars can receive credit for prior learning, which is especially important to those who bring health care experience to the classroom.”

To help students make connections in the health care industry, some required health care courses mix students from the nursing, health administration, and public health programs. Spedding believes this gives them the opportunity to hear a different perspective and allows them to build bridges, form collaborative partnerships, and increase positive health outcomes when they move from Capella into the health care industry.

Staying Informed and Educated

In such a rapidly changing field, how can professionals remain educated and aware of the trends? Grant recommends the following:

  • Acquire professional certifications in areas of interest
  • Join a professional organization – such as ACHE
  • Network at health care conferences and meetings
  • Read online journals, blogs, and professional news outlets
  • Find an internship or fellowship in an interest area
  • Consider a master’s degree in health care management or administration

Grant believes a drive to continue learning about new advancements in health care and spending time networking with other professionals in the industry will help professionals remain up to date as the industry continues to evolve and change.

A master’s degree in Health Care Management or Health Care Administration from Capella University will teach you the health care policy and business skills you’ll need to become a leader in the industry.

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