Online Master's Degree Programs in Healthcare Innovation
For those who have worked in healthcare or who may be considering healthcare management as a career, an online master’s degree in healthcare innovation, known as an online MHI, requires a significant investment of time, resources, and commitment. Nevertheless, the skills and knowledge gained from these programs can prepare graduates for leadership roles in the healthcare industry, resulting in higher salaries and great opportunities.
An organization may encourage a healthcare professional with a background in science, medicine, engineering, or information technology to assume a managerial role at some point. An MHI can expedite that transition by providing management skills matched with the healthcare industry, and can help professionals build upon years or decades of experience to develop specialized expertise.
For those new to the healthcare field, an MHI can help them secure one of the many management jobs within healthcare organizations. A business background combined with knowledge and skills matched to the healthcare industry can competitively position these graduates. Such matching skills enable MHI graduates to carry out managerial responsibilities within a broad range of healthcare systems, medical centers, hospitals or hospital networks, clinics, rehabilitation centers, or public health organizations.
Business school faculty may teach some of the courses in healthcare innovation programs. However, the curriculum for a typical MHI degree—along with the standard curriculum for a related master’s degree in healthcare leadership and management (MHLM)—differs significantly from that of an MBA program. The following excerpt from the University of Arizona describes how the programs vary:
The business of healthcare delivery is becoming increasingly complex with providers (e.g., hospitals, clinics, treatment facilities) facing pressures to cut costs, increase patient outcomes, and coordinate across a continuum of care. While health policy used to be the traditional background of healthcare leaders, increasingly leaders are finding the need for formal business training.
For example, as discussed below, the University of Pennsylvania’s program focuses on three areas related to healthcare innovation: health policy, behavioral economics, and operations management. Core courses include topics on the American healthcare system, evaluating health policy and programs, healthcare operations, and innovations in health economics.
By contrast, MBA programs initially teach business management fundamentals while challenging students to think strategically. Students first explore fundamental business concepts in general “core” courses focusing on marketing, accounting, business ethics, finance, statistics, project management, and other business administration disciplines.
In an MHI program, elective courses are much more tightly focused on specific healthcare topics, and often those topics relate to innovation. For example, at Penn, elective topics include healthcare systems around the world, reform in China’s healthcare system, and driving value in the system.
Innovative healthcare MHI and MHLM programs with 100 percent online curricula offer students tremendous flexibility advantages. That’s because recent instructional technology advances now provide an online educational experience equivalent to and in many ways better than instruction on campus, yet unconstrained by distance or time. As a result, these online programs extend opportunities to students who cannot leave jobs to attend classes on campus, or who wish to attend better out-of-state universities without the expense and hassle of relocation. Plus, for students who want to learn at their own pace, personalized online education provides an attractive alternative; motivated and gifted students, in particular, can thrive at the accelerated pace made possible by these online MBA programs.
Online programs also save students money. Even when tuition rates are identical, the online MBA programs can present more cost-effective alternatives to on-campus programs because of savings on costs like relocation, childcare, and transportation.
The following guide presents profiles of six degree programs offered online: five provided entirely online, with one (Penn’s) requiring two brief campus visits one year apart. They include five MHI programs, along with one closely-related MHLM program.
Featured Online Master’s in Healthcare Innovation (MHI) Programs
ASU’s online master of healthcare innovation (MHI) degree offers a multidisciplinary approach to prepare students for an innovative and transformative role in healthcare. Students approach the study of innovation with a focus on advancing the healthcare system from various perspectives: personal competence for innovation; applying evidence to decision making; remodeling system infrastructures; and paying thought to finance, communication, entrepreneurship, technology, and policy-making.
To devise innovative, transformative solutions to healthcare challenges, students learn change theory, leadership, entrepreneurship, application technology, and system design programs. Students also develop expertise in the design, application, and testing of innovative processes and products, although the primary focus remains on preparing students to lead the process of innovation and transformation. The curriculum incorporates the latest healthcare trends and the opportunity to network with other professionals and faculty across diverse disciplines. Unlike Penn’s program, this one does not appear limited to students with extensive healthcare industry experience. As examples, besides nursing, health sciences, and healthcare architecture, graduates’ prior backgrounds included engineering, business administration, and journalism. No admissions exams appear to be required, but ASU requires at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA from another master’s degree or the second half of a bachelor’s degree program.
- Location: Tempe, Arizona
- Tuition: $512 per credit-hour, $17,408 for the full 34-credit program
- Time to Completion: About 3.75 years at nine credits per semester
- Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
The Perelman School of Medicine’s Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy introduced the University of Pennsylvania’s first online master’s program with their new online master of healthcare innovation (MHCI) degree in November of 2016. The Ivy League university designed their new curriculum as a practitioner program to accelerate professional development for working mid-career healthcare professionals who want to differentiate themselves. Students include clinicians along with leaders of healthcare systems, government health agencies, pharmaceutical companies, and device manufacturers.
Penn’s program focuses on three areas related to healthcare delivery innovation: health policy, behavioral economics, and operations management. Core courses include topics on the American healthcare system, evaluating health policy and programs, healthcare operations, and innovations in health economics. Elective topics include healthcare systems around the world, reform in China’s healthcare system, and driving value in the system. The interdisciplinary program draws faculty primarily from the School of Medicine, with additional faculty from the Wharton School of Business, the Law School, and the School of Nursing. Students earn degrees through online coursework, a capstone project, and two brief on-campus seminars, totaling five days in Philadelphia. Admission requires a bachelor’s degree with evidence of strong academic performance and at least three years of healthcare industry experience, but no GMAT or GRE scores.
- Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Tuition: $5,746 per credit-hour, $70,575 for the full 12-credit program
- Time to Completion: 18 months
- Accreditation: Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)
Ohio State’s master of healthcare innovation is a 34 credit-hour, 100 percent online master’s degree program designed to be flexible for students both at the mid-career and entry levels. Although ideal for those currently working in healthcare, no prior experience in the industry appears to be required.
Designed to prepare leaders to engage in creating and driving the future direction of healthcare from any position within an organization, the program is especially geared to those who work in a medical setting and aspire to launch pioneering projects that will advance patient care or system processes. The program also appeals to those with a passion to advance healthcare policy and practice through value-added change within an organization, plus those with innovative ideas for changing healthcare but who lack an educational background in the field.
The program features nine courses with topics including leadership, communication, organizational culture, healthcare policy and technology, along with nine credit-hours of capstone practicum courses. Admission requires a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale, and may require GRE scores from candidates who don’t meet the GPA requirement, who completed coursework at an unaccredited college or university, or who apply for fellowships. Admission also calls for the timely completion of an online interview. Notably, OSU offers in-state tuition to all students irrespective of state or country of residence.
- Location: Columbus, Ohio
- Tuition: $722 per credit-hour, $24,548 for the full 34-credit program
- Time to Completion: About two years full-time, three years part-time
- Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Trevecca’s online master’s degree in healthcare leadership and innovation program prepares students to understand and apply leadership principles and theory, understand leadership within healthcare, and learn strategies to promote a patient-centered culture. Students also develop capabilities focusing on organizational skills, financial data, information privacy and security management, and patients’ rights. The program is unique among those surveyed for this guide because it emphasizes ethical issues and applies Christian values within a healthcare context. No GMAT or GRE scores are required, but the university requires a 2.75 cumulative GPA, including specific math and English coursework.
- Location: Nashville, Tennessee
- Tuition: $450/credit-hour, $14,850 for the full 33-credit program
- Time to Completion: 18 months
- Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
One of the most extensive networks of education and healthcare facilities in the world, the Adventist Health System operates this university and its new online division. Adventist’s master of healthcare administration in strategy and innovation (MHA-SI) program intends to produce skilled and trained leaders to guide healthcare workers and to help direct the future of the healthcare industry.
This 100 percent online degree gives students the ability to direct health systems, respond to issues about population health management, and leverage new technology to keep health systems up-to-date. The school seems unusual in that it actually accepts students who only hold associate degrees from regionally-accredited two-year community colleges into their master’s program. However, junior college applicants also need current employment in the healthcare industry and must also hold a professional license or certificate in a health-related field. Adventist also requires a 3.0 GPA on all coursework irrespective of degree, and some students might need to complete five to seven foundation prerequisite courses before even starting the program.
- Location: Orlando, FL
- Tuition: $535 per credit-hour, $20,865 for the full 39-credit program
- Time to Completion: About two years
- Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Although not technically a healthcare innovation program, the online master of science in healthcare leadership and management (MSHLM) program at the University of Texas Jindal School warranted inclusion in this guide because of its closely comparable curriculum and strong academics.
The MSHLM program prepares industry leaders with solid business analysis foundations, real-world healthcare management exposure, and professional development opportunities. Like similar programs, this one’s objective is to prepare graduates to assume management and leadership roles in a variety of healthcare settings. However, one aspect that differentiates Jindal’s program is that classes are available in an on-campus setting, a blended on-campus and online configuration, and an entirely online format—although the program suggests that not all networking opportunities might be available to students who elect the 100 percent online option.
The program does not require a business or healthcare industry background, making it ideal for recent graduates and others without experience. The school expects the GMAT or the GRE, but offers waivers for applicants holding some graduate degrees and high undergraduate or graduate grade point averages from universities with AACSB-accredited business schools. Notably, U.S. News and World Report ranked this program fourth best among online graduate business programs in 2018.
- Location: Dallas, TX
- Tuition: Texas Residents ($382 per credit-hour, $13,740 for the full 36-credit program), non-residents ($761 per credit-hour, $27,398 for the full 36-credit program)
- Time to Completion: 18-24 months
- Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International)
Admission Requirements: Online Master’s in Healthcare Innovation (MHI)
Derived from the programs above, here are typical, common application requirements to earn admission to these online master’s in healthcare innovation (MHI) programs:
- A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution (except for Adventist, which accepts two-year degrees under limited circumstances)
- Competitive GPAs from undergraduate universities
- Some schools ask for GMAT or GRE scores, but often waive testing for students meeting each school’s specific waiver requirements
- Penn requires at least three years of professional experience with a healthcare organization, but none of the others profiled in this guide expects work experience
- For candidates without undergraduate business degrees, completion of fundamental prerequisite courses
- A personal statement of objectives
- Letters of recommendation
- International students must complete the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
Professors to Know from Schools with Online Master’s in Healthcare Innovation (MHI) and Master’s in Healthcare Leadership and Management (MHLM) Programs
Lawton Robert Burns, MBA, PhD - University of Pennsylvania
Dr. Burns holds an endowed chair as the James Joo-Jin Kim professor and serves as the chair of the Healthcare Management Department, a professor of healthcare management, and a professor of management—all in UPenn’s prestigious Wharton School of Business. He also serves as director of the Wharton Center for Health Management and Economics. Dr. Burns teaches courses on healthcare strategy, strategic change, strategic implementation, organization and management, managed care, and integrated delivery networks. His published research has analyzed physician-hospital integration, hospital systems, and physician group practices. Dr. Burns has written books on the healthcare industry in India, as well as on supply chain management in the healthcare industry. He also served as editor for two textbooks, The Business of Healthcare Innovation (Cambridge University Press, 2012), and Healthcare Management: Organization Design & Behavior (Delmar, 2011). Dr. Burns taught previously in the Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago, the College of Business Administration at the University of Arizona, and taught healthcare administration to physicians at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine. He earned his PhD in sociology along with an MBA in health administration from the University of Chicago.
Paul Convery, MMM, MD - University of Texas
Dr. Convery serves as a clinical professor of healthcare leadership and management in the Department of Executive Education within the Naveen Jindal School of Management at the University of Texas, Dallas. He teaches courses on quality and performance improvement in healthcare, the competencies of effective leaders, and leading in complex organizations. Dr. Convery’s experience includes over twenty years as a senior executive in healthcare organizations. He served as the senior vice president and chief medical officer for Baylor Scott & White Health (formerly the Baylor University Health Care System) in Dallas from 2006 until 2013, which won the National Quality Healthcare Award in 2008. From 1999 to 2006, Dr. Convery served as the executive vice president and chief medical officer for SSM Health, the St. Louis-based Catholic health system with 24 hospitals and more than 300 physician offices across Missouri, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin. In 2002, SSM won the first Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in healthcare. Previously, he also served as president of two SSM hospitals in the St. Louis area, and earlier he served two large multispecialty medical groups as chair of the St. Louis Medical Group and president/medical director of the Southwest Medical Center. Apart from practicing internal medicine for over twenty years, Dr. Convery has lectured around the world on healthcare quality improvement, physician leadership development, and healthcare system organizational strategies. Additionally, he wrote or co-wrote several book chapters and articles on physician leadership and quality. His leadership experience includes physician leadership development and coaching, healthcare organizational strategy, quality improvement, patient safety, clinical informatics, managed care, and medical group operations. He is double-board certified, first by the American College of Physician Executives, and second by the American College of Physicians in internal medicine. Dr. Convery holds an undergraduate degree from St. Louis University; a master’s degree in medical management from Tulane University, and a medical degree from the University of Illinois.
Gerri Lamb, RN, PhD - University of Arizona
Dr. Lamb serves as an associate professor in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation. An expert on care coordination practice and measurement, she teaches courses in health policy innovation and the design of healthcare systems, To guide the development of a robust program for interprofessional practice and education, Dr. Lamb came to ASU in 2008 from an endowed chair position at Atlanta’s Emory University. At ASU, she helped create the Center for Advancing Interprofessional Practice, Education and Research (CAIPER). To provide patient-centered, high-quality healthcare, the Center’s members work across disciplines to assist faculty and students in building expertise concerning teamwork and collaboration. Dr. Lamb holds an undergraduate degree from the State University of New York at Albany, an MS in adult nursing practice from the University of Rochester, and a PhD in clinical nursing research from the University of Arizona.