The importance of business in health care
Hospitals, long-term care facilities, nursing homes, and other health care organizations have been thrust into the spotlight this past year. Since March 2020, the industry has dealt with a shortage of supplies, staffing issues, budgeting problems and more—making the need for well-trained business leadership all the more important.
At the College of Business, training leaders in any industry is an essential focus. And that includes health care during these trying times. Dale Cyphert, coordinator for the masters of business administration (MBA) program, says health organizations are businesses just the same as any other industry. And that perspective can be lost at times.
“You’re running a real business with real money and lots and lots of logistics problems,” Cyphert said. “I’ve talked to health care accounting folks about their structures, and sometimes they don’t have the right system in place… People come through the industry as great doctors, but not as managers. And that can be a fundamental problem.”
The College of Business has been trying to fill that void, partnering with Allen College in Waterloo for a graduate certificate in business administration, offered to those enrolled in a master’s of science in nursing (MSN) degree program. Students who take these courses specialize in the unique human resource issues and practices of health care. Anyone can take the certificate on their own as well, and it checks off some boxes for those hoping to obtain an MBA in the future.
The best part of the certificate? It allows people to take courses while still working. That’s important, Cyphert said, because it’s much more practical for those making a living.
“This helps them with the basics of management and accounting,” Cyphert said. “It’s kind of a win-win for everyone. It meets the need without doing it in a way that’s appropriate for our area. We’re not a place people can quit working and go to school for two years.”
Sam Boeke (MBA, ’12) has seen the importance of professional business experience firsthand. The director of operations for Continuum Health Care Services, a Webster City consultant for long-term care facilities, Boeke said his MBA background has come in handy more often than not.
“I think the MBA has great value in the industry,” Boeke said. “I think we’re just now beginning to see it as a viable industry to enter into as well. My role allows me to focus on many of the business components because others are too business taking care of people, and rightfully so.”
Boeke added that many people who come up through the health care system have backgrounds in nursing or supervisors—not necessarily business. But that’s starting to change, he said, as administrators realize the value of having someone with a business background at the top.
Boeke noted a hospital nearby that hired a former Toyota executive to run operations. In a matter of years, the organization moved to lean operations, became more efficient and is now one of the best-run places in the state, he said. “That organization made huge strides,” Boeke added.
Even as the pandemic starts to ease, the focus on the healthcare industry likely will not. And training the next generation of health care leaders makes a difference.
“If the health care industry can bring in people with management backgrounds and look at it from a management perspective, that’s important,” Cyphert said.