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.

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.

Douglas Mark
Douglas Mark

While a partner in a San Francisco marketing and design firm, for over 20 years Douglas Mark wrote online and print content for the world’s biggest brands, including United Airlines, Union Bank, Ziff Davis, Sebastiani and AT&T.

Since his first magazine article appeared in MacUser in 1995, he’s also written on finance and graduate business education in addition to mobile online devices, apps, and technology. He graduated in the top 1 percent of his class with a business administration degree from the University of Illinois and studied computer science at Stanford University.

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