Friday, August 6, 2010

Now, an MBA in healthcare

Growing at an envious rate of 15 percent every year, the healthcare industry in India is expected to touch $40 billion by 2012.

Existing healthcare organizations are expanding by opening hospitals in new service areas and new organizations are entering the domain.

Consequently, competition in the healthcare sector is on the rise. The providers in turn need to be more innovative in their approach and offer quality services at competitive prices. All this necessitates a specially trained cadre of professional management graduates in healthcare.

Until recently doctors without any professional training in management were managing hospitals. Thanks to rapid corporatisation, in addition to a lot of medical graduates, general graudates are also taking up health care as a viable career option. With manpower requirements in the sector projected to be about four million by 2012, it is imperative that new programmes come into being.

Programmes on healthcare
The specialist master’s in hosptial administration (MHA) is a programme that prepares professionals capable of efficiently running a hosptial. But healthcare sector, is now much more than hosptials and pharmaceuticals. It includes health insurers, third party administrators, medical technology organisations, health tourism, medical informatics, clinical reserach and so on. Most of the jobs in the sector would demand, in additon to sectoral knowledge, in depth understanding of functional areas such as marketing, production, finance, branding, new business creation and process reengineering.

A specialized programme in healthcare in addition provides theoretical and practical knowledge of healthcare services.

Hospital organization—operation and planning envisages:

◦Ablity to understand management principles and practices
◦Functional elements of management, business environment and its influence on organizations in the Indian context
◦Preparing, implementing business plans
◦Developing human relationship skills
◦Branding and benchmarking
◦People management skills
Complementary not supplementary
An MBA or PG Diploma in healthcare is not a replacement to an MHA. They cater to differnt segments of the sector, and are complementary to each other. Addressing issues specific to the Indian context with exposure to real life cases/technical know-how in the healthcare services sector, an MBA would give the the student an undeniable edge.

Career opportunities in Healthcare Management
There are bright opportunities even in the government sector. The National Rural Health Mission envisages appointment of healthcare administrators. The entire administrative structure is turning over a new leaf wherein the human resources departments are on a spree of hiring individuals between the age of 28-32 at middle-level posts to inject the much-needed innovation, energy and vigour in their organization.
It is not only hospitals which require management professionals. A whole lot of specialisations exist in the following sectors:

◦Lifestyle clinics
◦Emergency medicine units
◦Pharmaceutical firms
◦Hospital information systems
◦E-health ventures
◦Credit rating firms
◦NGOs and health insurance
◦Specialised hospital administration
Grading of healthcare institutions is another area with a lot of excitement and challenges for healthcare managers and they can learn newer concepts here. Rating agencies like CRISIL and ICRA have absorbed many freshers in the recent past as healthcare consultants.

With the sector growing at a healthy 15% per annum, and with nearly 100 billion worth of investments planned in the coming years, healthcare sector is definitely looking up. Options are plenty and the work is exciting. So identify your interest area, select an appropriate course and work hard at getting the right qualifications. A good institution makes the package better. But remember, unlike the other sectors here neither the topline nor the bottomline matters as much as the crucial element, lifeline.

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