Regardless of the industry, the path forward requires some reflection on the past, an assessment of the present and an analysis of future trends. This is especially true for those in health services—a field where typical protocols, policies, and state and federal laws were turned on their head with the pandemic.
According to faculty from the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences who teach for the Master of Health Services Administration, there are five key areas that will affect the field’s future in the United States. They shared their thoughts and analysis in the fall 2020 edition of The Journal of Health Administration Education.
Their article, titled “Health Services Administration Educational Programs in the United States: An Assessment of Past, Present, and Future Perspectives,” stresses the need for adaptability in instruction to benefit the delivery of care in the field.
The authors include Mariceli Comellas; Tina Yeung; Chanadra Young-Whiting; Kellen Hassell; Frank Fan; Michelle Kameka; and Yamile Marrero.
“Students are in an environment where we promote growth and curiosity,” says co-author Mariceli Comellas, health services graduate program director. “Our students want to impact our health care system and all the options they uncover while in the program—it is our job to ensure they receive the most relevant instruction that evaluates what is currently happening and what may come.”
The areas shaping health services administration education and the field, according to the authors, include partnerships, globalization, technology, funding and policy changes.1. Partnerships
Because the master’s degree program features a residency option, the department is always looking for new partnerships with corporations to help students gain valuable experience and possible employment. Partnerships with technology companies are important, Comellas stresses as she explains how the future will require professionals well-versed in advanced digital methods for managing care.2. Globalization
In line with the university’s internationalization efforts, the department is currently seeking international universities to collaborate with, especially those in the Caribbean and Latin America. These efforts will offer students mobility, portability and expand innovation through diversity, Comellas says.3. Technology
The advancements in technology during the pandemic offered academic continuity for students in the master’s program, which is offered in fully online and hybrid formats. In the field, technology also offered greater dependence on telehealth services, which are emerging as a mainstay for continuity of care. This is especially true with chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, Comellas says.
“Students are living during an exciting time of accessibility with online and hybrid learning options. They’re also learning that there is a gap in the health care system that technology can help solve,” expounds Comellas, who adds that digital options including artificial intelligence can offer more coordination of care and transparency for patients.4. Funding
With every educational program, funding and grants can be challenges for research, and this, say the authors, is the case with health services education. Reform efforts are currently in motion to change that, they disclose. Fueling the reform, the authors cite the need and increased demand for health services administrators nationwide.5. Policy
The laws and rules that dictate the health services practice are of paramount importance to education—especially when they change frequently to address health care emergencies. Comellas points out recent events such as vaccinations, accessibility to care, and even the handling of opioids as a few of the current driving factors.
“HSA education’s history is one of constant evolution and change,” notes Comellas. “But we are prepared to instruct our students to rise to the challenge to help people in communities live healthier lives.”