Recognizing the need for healthcare professionals who are prepared for a rapidly changing world, some universities have created business-related programs customized for physicians. Both Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Southern California offer an MMM (Master of Medical Management), a degree program for physicians that incorporates courses related to health policy, organizational and operational management, healthcare law, healthcare economics, and more, provided in a combination of onsite and distance-learning courses. The leadership training program in the department of otolaryngology at Vanderbilt University Medical School is another unique example (see “Building Leaders by Degree,” below). The University of Tennessee (Knoxville) has a 12-month Physician Executive MBA program, also designed with a focus on leadership.
Explore This IssueSeptember 2019
Healthcare industry analysts predict that the U.S. population will continue to age and, as the demand for healthcare grows, so will the need for healthcare providers to handle the daily avalanche of data produced by the industry’s increasingly sophisticated information systems. The ability to analyze, interpret, manage, and apply that copious data has become an essential “hard skill” in healthcare. In this regard, a degree in health informatics gives health providers a true step up.
A master’s program in health informatics (MHI) is designed for healthcare professionals who want to learn how to optimize this incoming healthcare data, and make the best use of current healthcare management information systems to aid in clinical, administrative, and research strategy, as well as decision making. For physicians who plan to stay in clinical practice, the informatics focus provides the most direct applications, as they become able to better use data to formulate solutions for their organization and improve outcomes for their patients.
A health informatics curriculum is not to be confused with that of health information technology (IT)—a technical discipline that ventures into areas such as computer networks and processing algorithms. That said, universities do often combine the two in an overarching program. Tufts University’s master’s program enables the participant to choose between informatics and information technology tracks. George Mason University’s program offers three areas of concentration: health informatics management, health data analytics, and population health informatics.
Linda Kossoff is a freelance medical writer based in California.