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Public Health Considerations for Medical Decision-Makers

The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a Healthcare Administration Specialization online program provides the training necessary to successfully navigate healthcare challenges as a decision-making administrator. Graduates gain foundational management skills, including those in organizational decision-making, information systems and technology, managerial economics, government policy and communications — all of which are required to impact and improve policies and practices.

The public receives new information about public health daily. Individuals can only achieve best outcomes if everyone has equal access to the latest information. Many of the world’s most insightful leaders work in healthcare administration play a key role in gaining and disseminating this information, especially during emergencies and crises. In recent years, these have included pandemics, environmental disasters, weather disasters, terrorism, mass murders and school shootings.

A health emergency preparedness program (PHEP) — or a routine matter of working through a community health issue — entails the ability of public health and health care systems, communities and individuals to prevent, protect, respond and recover. This is especially critical when scale, timing or unpredictability threaten to overwhelm routine capabilities. For healthcare administrative professionals, planning and implementing readiness requires reviewing historical data, measuring performance and taking corrective action. Success depends on having the capacity and competency to handle issues and the ability to coordinate between individuals and entities.

How Do Healthcare Administration Professionals Impact Policies and Practices?

Healthcare administration professionals and officials have many specific functions and tasks, depending on specific roles. Because healthcare crises unfold in dynamic and complex processes, the tasks break into three response timeframes: immediate, intermediate and extended.

In the immediate timeframe, administrators and officials collaborate to fully assess a situation. In this process, they determine what public health functions have been impacted and who is most threatened. Is it an ’emergent’ situation with potential consequences that could overwhelm community capabilities? Who should be the first responders? To answer these questions, they look at potential impacts on infrastructures, including utilities, communications and healthcare systems. They determine which agencies and organizations are responding and which should become involved at appropriate stages.

Next, they establish an Incident Command Post (ICP) and appoint an Incident Commander (IC). From there, personnel within the health department with emergency response roles are contacted and responsibilities are delegated. Positions, which graduates of this program often occupy, include emergency response coordinators, safety and health specialists, administrators and public information officers. The ICP and IC then work to develop initial response objectives and an action plan based on the situation assessment. Coordination in these efforts requires all partners to understand how their roles fit into the system.

In the intermediate timeframe, healthcare administration professionals communicate with key health and medical organizations including emergency medical services (EMS), hospitals and clinics, psychiatric and social services providers and state and county medical agencies. These professionals undertake the critical tasks of determining how to assign and deploy resources in the most efficient and expeditious way possible in order to address challenges. Concurrently, healthcare administrators initiate public risk communication activities and communicate key public health messages, paying close attention to the most at-risk groups.

In the extended timeframe, healthcare administrators must consider the ongoing effects and fallout from healthcare issues and crises. They must carefully document all activities throughout the process and assess progress through the situation. Finally, they must make determinations about what resources should be allocated to which affected groups and individuals, such as ongoing medical and mental healthcare. They can then use information gained through these processes to inform government agencies so they can evolve their policies and practices to better handle similar situations going forward.

The Curriculum Prepares Graduates for Public Health Decision-Making

Students in the program go through a sequence of courses that enable them to become effective role-players, coordinators, decision-makers and communicators when the public needs it most.

SIUE’s program has a course titled Strategic Management which covers the analysis, formulation and implementation of strategy studied from a general management perspective. This course emphasizes interrelationships between the firm and its external environment. In the Health Economics and Policy course, students learn about individual and group behavior, cost, insurance, utilization and economic assessment of public policy issues. The Managing Organizational Change and Innovation course builds on this with organizational change emphasizing diagnostic skills for the management of change, as well as individual and group leadership approaches.

If you want to make a difference when it matters most by applying expertise amid consternation or chaos, an MBA in Healthcare Administration may be the key to your future.

Learn more about Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s online Master of Business Administration with a Healthcare Administration Specialization program.

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