Health Care Management

Health Administration

Health administration offers graduates of the HPM program the chance to apply their skills in general management to leadership positions in the long term care industry, the hospital industry, home health care, community health centers, and other health settings. After graduating from PC, students are prepared to enter the field of health administration in junior level management positions, often assisting senior executives in strategic planning, budgeting, or taking responsibility for managing a smaller program/department within a larger organization. Ultimately, students who follow this career path within the field may emerge as leaders within their industries; several graduates of the HPM program at PC have served as presidents, CEOs, or senior vice presidents in the hospital industry.

In the long run, career advancement in health administration can be enhanced by graduate study in the fields of business administration (MBA) or health services administration (MHA). Students interested in this field should have a strong preparation in financial management; at least one course in financial accounting is strongly recommended. Undergraduate coursework in calculus and statistics will also prepare students well for graduate MBA coursework. Students interested in organizational leadership are also encouraged to explore electives in the management department, particularly organization theory, leadership, and managing workplace diversity.

Healthcare Financial Management

Many HPM graduates ultimately apply their training in financial management in positions where they are intimately involved in questions of reimbursement, contracting, and financial control. Most larger institutions have chief financial officers, directors of reimbursement, or similar positions; individuals occupying such positions are responsible for maximizing the revenue for their institutions by negotiating favorable terms with third party payers or managing an institution’s cash flow and patient accounts. Other HPM graduates now work as consultants or analysts for national or regional firms (e.g., Deloitte & Touche, Arthur Anderson, Lefkowitz, Garfinkel, Champi & DeRienzo P.C.) that advise hospitals and other health care providers. Analysts for such firms frequently advise providers on strategies to improve the efficiency and profitability (e.g., reducing waiting times and improving services in outpatient departments). In addition, consultants are often hired to estimate the demand for new services and identify ways to restructure or reengineer the way services are delivered to achieve cost efficiencies.

Students interested in healthcare financial management would be well served by taking additional accounting and/or finance courses in their undergraduate years. A number of HPM majors complete the College’s Business Studies program or a minor in accounting each year.

Many students interested in the field find it worthwhile to work for one or more years prior to returning to school for the MBA or MHA. Professional graduate degree programs often draw upon real world experiences; individuals with more work experience will have a broader range of experiences to draw upon in class discussions and will bring different perspectives to group projects and teams. In some cases, employers will pay for some or all of their employees’ graduate school tuition if the coursework enhances their capacity to serve clients and the firm’s needs.

Health insurance/HMO industry

As businesses and governments struggle to control rising health care costs, managed care has emerged as a dominant feature of the US health care system. The health insurance industry offers a wide range of opportunities for HPM students, for the growth of managed care has generated an enormous interest in assessing patient outcomes, evaluating the performance of providers, and developing new ways to compensate providers (e.g., capitation) in a wide variety of fields. New graduates may be responsible for managing accounts with corporate clients, developing and marketing new insurance products, reviewing claims, analyzing their company’s market position, or managing relations with subscribers (e.g., inquiries, complaints, etc.) and clinical providers. Once confined to acute care services, managed care has now entered the fields of mental/behavioral health; new capitation methodologies for high risk populations and the disabled are being developed by both private insurers and state Medicaid programs.

Many HPM graduates from Providence College now work in the health insurance industry. Recent graduates now work for HMOs as provider training specialists, consumer affairs representatives, account consultants, claims managers, provider appeals representatives, and underwriters. Students interested in this field should have a strong preparation in financial management; at least one course in financial accounting beyond HPM 302 is strongly recommended. Undergraduate coursework in calculus and statistics will also prepare students well for graduate MBA coursework. Elective courses in marketing management and marketing nonprofit and service organizations may also be useful.

Human Resources/Benefits Administration

The US health care system is largely financed by employers that provide their workers with health insurance, disability insurance, and other benefits. After graduating from PC, HPM graduates are well equipped to assume entry level managerial positions in human resources departments in a wide variety of settings in both the public and private sectors. Human resource departments both inside and outside of the health care industry are responsible for hiring employees, advising employees about alternative benefit plan options, and helping employees transition to new jobs and/or retirement. Many human resources departments are also directly involved in employee contract negotiations with labor unions and individual workers.

Several recent HPM graduates now work in human resources for home health agencies, health care systems, hospitals, and insurance companies. Students interested in human resources administration should take HPM 303 as an elective within the major. In addition, elective courses in management such as business law, management information systems, human resources management, and managing workplace diversity provide an introduction to many of the issues in personnel management that students will encounter after graduating from PC. In addition to graduate study in business administration (MBA), students may also consider graduate programs in labor and industrial relations.

Practice Management

Across the United States, a growing number of physicians have either sold their practices to hospitals and health systems or retained professional practice management firms to administer their day-to-day operations. Changes in the medical marketplace have placed new demands on physicians to monitor patients’ utilization of services, coordinate patient benefits, and negotiate contracts with third party insurers. Practice managers oversee all aspects of a physician’s office, including scheduling, hiring, payroll, and maximizing revenue through appropriate coding for diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.

Students interested in practice management should possess a strong background in accounting and management in addition to their HPM coursework. Students should also select an internship experience that exposes them to work in a hospital based practice setting (e.g., hospital business office) or physician’s office/group practice. Courses in personnel administration, marketing, and additional accounting courses beyond ACC 103 are strongly recommended for students interested in practice management.