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Current Issues in Healthcare Management

The U.S. healthcare system continues to experience phenomenal growth of recurring themes of important service delivery issues within the industry. As one of the largest employers in the country, and because every citizen needs healthcare at one time or another, it is important to gain an understanding and stay updated about the issues that drive our healthcare system (HHS, CMS, 2016).

The most important change to our healthcare system ever, occurred with the legislating of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (HHS, Healthcare, PPACA, 2010). This law has had major impacts, positive and negative, on how healthcare is paid for, how healthcare is accessed, and where healthcare can be received. The affects have been far reaching and will most likely be the focus of more changes to come in 2017 as a new Presidential administration moves into office.

Recurring Themes in Healthcare Management

Common recurring themes across the nation continue to be addressed by healthcare managers at all levels, to include private and public healthcare delivered in hospitals, outpatient clinics, retail medicine locations, and/or remotely via telemedicine options (Price Waterhouse Cooper, (2016). Listed alphabetically and not indicative of importance, some of those recurring themes are:

  • Access to care – longer wait times, higher costs, willingness to travel longer distances
  • Behavioral health – renewed emphasis on treatment and billing
  • Contract, risk management, payment reform – fee for service to value based healthcare
  • Cultural diversity – changing demographics
  • Cyber security – confidentiality/privacy threats
  • Drug prices – generic vs. brand name cost differences
  • Financial challenges/cost control- strategies to deliver lower-cost care
  • Governmental mandates – evolving changes to PPACA
  • Mergers – integration, accountable care organizations
  • Mobile care – enhancing accessibility through mobile devices
  • Performance Improvement/quality assurance initiatives – accreditation driven
  • Population health management – emphasizing community vs. individual care options
  • Technology – health informatics overtaking every aspect of industry

Current Issues Confronting Hospital Managers

The American College of Healthcare Executives’ (ACHE), annual survey of top issues confronting hospitals, ranked financial challenges as their greatest concern in 2015. Second ranked was patient safety and quality, with government mandates as third (ACHE, 2016).

Deborah J. Bowen, FACHE, CAE, president and CEO of ACHE states, “While financial challenges remain the top concern for CEOs, survey results suggest that senior leaders still have their eye on their organization’s financial strategy, and they are also making strides in moving forward patient safety and quality initiatives”.

Ms. Bowen also states, “The rise in rank of personnel shortages as a top concern for hospital CEOs—from the 10th-ranked concern last year to the fourth-ranked concern this year—is noteworthy, indicating organizations are also concerned about recruiting and retaining the right talent”.

With a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Management from American University, you could be someone who makes a difference in hospitals, outpatient clinics, retail medicine locations, and/or remotely via telemedicine options.

Current Issues Confronting Public Health Managers

The U.S. Public Health System continues to proactively engage our citizens through political activism, educational awareness, and service delivery for those who need a safety net to ensure the health of themselves and their loved ones. This is important because where you live in the U.S., how much money you make, your educational level, and your access to health care can negatively affect your life span by 15 years (APHA, Generation Public Health, 2016).

Managers who work in the public health sector play a critical and sometimes unforeseen role that focuses on the health of our communities, rather than just the individual. As such, public healthcare managers need to be proactive in their awareness of the same issues as private healthcare managers, but they must also take on the added responsibilities of managing things like disease outbreaks, disaster management, and chronic illness. Thus, current issues in public health must be viewed as an important partner in the team of U.S. healthcare managers, who make the entire system come together as one (APHA, Public Health Interventions, 2016).

NOTE: The U.S. Coast Guard health services are managed by the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Health Services, with care being delivered by the United States Public Health Service (USPHS).

With a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Management from American University, you could be someone who makes a difference in ensuring our communities are not being neglected.

Current Issues Confronting Veterans Administration Health Managers

The Veterans Health Administration is America’s largest integrated health care system with over 1,700 sites of care, serving 8.76 million Veterans annually (VA, 2016).

Without a doubt, excessive wait times for patient’s is still the number one concern for managers within this system (VA, 2016). Due to its behemoth size, the VA Health Care System employs tens of thousands of people to help manage the complexities of such a system. As such, healthcare managers must deal with the same issues that are of importance in the private healthcare sector. The difference of course being the economies of scale to be taken into consideration.

With a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Management from American University, you could be someone who makes a difference in the life of our Veterans who so desperately need our help.

Current Issues Confronting Military Medicine

Military medicine is managed by the U.S. Department of Defense, and is even more unique than private or public healthcare, and even different than Veterans Healthcare. This system is comprised of members of the Army, Navy, and Air Force. The U.S. Marine Corps receives care provided by the Navy, and/or any of the other services depending on their location stateside or overseas. You may not be aware, but you do not have to be on Active Duty to work in military medicine. Military medicine employs tens of thousands of civilians as well. Like each of the other healthcare systems previously mentioned, healthcare managers in military medicine must be concerned with similar issues. Those issues revolve around: service delivery; medical education; public health; private sector partnerships; and cutting edge medical research and development.

With a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Management from American University, you could be someone who makes a difference in the life of our active duty military members, military families, and retirees who so desperately need our help.

Summary

As you may have concluded from all the healthcare issues presented above, there are many avenues for you to travel and explore relative to being a healthcare manager. The sky is the limit and there are opportunities available to the person who seeks a challenge and wants to make a difference. The current healthcare issues addressed are always changing, which could make your life as a healthcare manager very exciting. All you have to do is grab the brass ring to come along for the ride. Perhaps some of the current issues discussed are those you are looking to resolve. As such, you may be one who wants to specialize in one particular area of interest. What you need to know, is that is a definite possibility and as such, you are invited to inquire about more information on what the career outlook with a Master’s you think about your options. American University is standing by ready to assist.

References

American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), Research & Resources Website (2016), Top Issues Confronting Hospitals in 2015, retrieved from https://www.ache.org/pubs/research/ceoissues.cfm
American Public Health Association (APHA), Generation Public Health Website (2016), retrieved from https://www.apha.org/what-is-public-health/generation-public-health
American Public Health Association (APHA), Public Health Interventions Website (2016), retrieved from https://www.apha.org/what-is-public-health/public-health-interventions
Defense Health Agency, Health.mil Website (2016), retrieved from http://www.health.mil/About-MHS
Price Waterhouse Cooper, Health Research Institute (2016). Top Health Industry Issues of 2016. http://www.pwc.com/us/en/health-industries/top-health-industry-issues.html
U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services (HHS), Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) (2016), National Health Expenditure Data Website retrieved from https://www.cms.gov/research-statistics-data-and-systems/statistics-trends-and-reports/nationalhealthexpenddata/nhe-fact-sheet.html
U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services (HHS), Healthcare (2016). The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, retrieved from https://www.hhs.gov/healthcare/about-the-law/read-the-law/
U.S. Department of Homeland Security, United States Coast Guard, Office of Health Services Website, retrieved from http://www.uscg.mil/health/
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Website, retrieved at http://www.va.gov/health/

About Jack Nemecek, Ph.D.

Dr. Jack Nemecek, Ph.D. is a full time university Professor who has completed two careers, one in healthcare administration and one in public health. Dr. Nemecek began his career in military medicine as an Independent Duty Hospital Corpsman in the United States Navy. After 12 years as an Enlisted man, he was Commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy Medical Service Corps, as a healthcare administrator. He served on active duty for 22 years, serving in numerous capacities as a senior level healthcare administrator, to include Director of Human Resources, Director of Education/Training, Director of Operations, Director of Administration, and Director of U. S. Navy Healthcare Construction West Coast Operations. Upon his retirement from the U. S. Navy, Dr. Nemecek began another career as a Public Health Advisor with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For another 20 years, he served in numerous capacities including grants management and as Deputy Branch Manager for the Education, Information, and Partnership Branch of the National Immunization Program. He holds a Ph.D. in Public Health from Walden University, an MBA and BBA in healthcare administration from National University, and an AS in Allied Health from George Washington University.

Learn more about how American University’s online Master of Science in Healthcare Management and advance your career. Request more information or call us toll free at 855-725-7614