Health Policy & Management

Health Policy and Management is the multidisciplinary study of many factors—including social factors, financing systems, organizational structures and processes, health technologies, and personal behaviors—that affect access to health care, the quality and cost of health care, and ultimately our health and well-being. Concepts and models from many fields—including economics, management, policy, psychology, and sociology—are brought to bear on the problems and successes of the US health care system in order to advance our understanding of how it can be improved.

The Master of Public Health program with a concentration in Health Policy and Management provides students with the skills and knowledge necessary to formulate sound, creative solutions to complex problems in the health care system. These skills and areas of knowledge include health care management, health policy and planning, financial analysis for health care, and organization and delivery of care. Students gain hands-on research and practice experience through departmental professional development and research opportunities. Research groups that involve HPM faculty include the Center on Health Quality, Outcomes, and Economic Research (CHQOER), the VA’s Center for Organization, Leadership, and Management Research (COLMR), the Center for the Assessment of Pharmaceutical Practices (CAPP), Health & Disability Working Group (HDWG), and the Health & Disability Research Institute (HDRI). Upon graduation, HPM concentrators are equipped with the knowledge and skills essential for understanding and intervening in the financing, policy-making, planning, and management and organization of health care services. Career pathways for graduates include employment as managers, research analysts, and advocates within private and public sector organizations across the US and beyond.

Competencies

In addition to the program competencies that all MPH graduates master, upon completing the requirements for the MPH in Health Policy and Management, graduates are able to:

  • analyze how the structures, processes, and outcomes observed in the organization, delivery, and financing of health services in the US are related both to one another and to historical and contextual influences, and compare these aspects of the US system to those in other developed nations
  • analyze the current health care policy issues that face US, state, and local communities; evaluate policies in terms of their effectiveness, efficiency, and equity; and identify the factors influencing successful policy implementation
  • assess how political, organizational, and occupational structures, cultures, and norms influence the ways in which health care is allocated and provided; analyze how these factors affect changes in health policy and/or systems; and develop strategies to promote an organization’s or constituency’s position
  • critically appraise health care-quality data and measurement methods for pursuing quality improvement, identify strategies for quality improvement, and apply structured approaches to implementing change

Specializations

Health Policy and Management concentrators may choose a general course of study in Health Policy & Management or one of three optional specializations. Your advisor can help you decide if a specialization is right for you. For detailed course listings, visit the Health Policy and Management Concentrator’s Guide. Prospective students should contact the Health Policy and Management staff for additional information.

    Health Care Management Specialization

    Health care management aims to improve value and access in health care through optimizing the efficiency and effectiveness of health care systems. Using a mixture of technical, conceptual, and interpersonal skills, managers organize human and material resources to deliver preventive, curative, and palliative services. Most managers work for hospitals, health centers, health systems, quality-improvement organizations, or consulting firms. Some managers directly support clinical care while others are responsible for admissions, billing, human resources, and other functions such as business planning. In the health care management specialization, you will develop conceptual, analytical, and practical knowledge that can facilitate your entry into the health management job market. Completing a specialization requires coursework beyond what is needed for the HPM concentration, as well as a management-related practicum.

    Completion of the health care management specialization will be noted on your transcript.

    Health Policy Specialization

    Health care policy aims to improve value and access in health care through shaping policy at multiple levels. Policy-makers set goals and then allocate resources and establish regulations to advance those goals. While most health care policy is made by federal, state, and local governments, it is influenced politically by caregivers, employers and unions, insurers and HMOs, patient advocates, and other groups. Sometimes, it is informed by researchers’ evidence and analysis. In the health policy specialization, you will develop conceptual, analytical, and practical knowledge that can facilitate your entry into the health policy job market. Completing a specialization requires coursework beyond what is needed for the HPM concentration, as well as a policy-related practicum.

    Completion of the health policy specialization will be noted on your transcript.

    Health Care Finance Specialization

    This specialization enables students to develop skills and knowledge with more depth in the financial aspects of health care that can be applied in either policy or managerial contexts.

    Health Policy & Management concentrators may also elect to do the Pharmaceuticals Program.