Healthcare is a broad and multifaceted field. Just like the complex dynamic of a human body with its unique, specialized functions, a healthcare facility needs specialists to meet the needs of each specific area of the healthcare system. Delivering high-quality, efficient healthcare services requires a streamlined process involving various departments and sections working in harmony.
There are four key specializations related to the field of healthcare. Operating within the healthcare industry, these specialists ensure that the operational productivity of a facility is not compromised. It can include the administrative and financial functions or the legal dimensions of all healthcare services. Patient care and facilitation of that care using technological solutions or identifying health inequities and then bringing policy and system changes to ensure unbiased equal access to care and then resourcing funds and supplies.
1. Healthcare Management
Suppose you are a skilled organizer and have the ability to develop smooth running systems, and you are passionate about providing good health services. In that case, healthcare management is an exciting specialization for you. Healthcare organizations need managers to ensure the smooth running of their procedures. A specialized degree in healthcare management opens up career development opportunities in every type of health facility. Since it is a booming industry, you can get better pay while having the flexibility to work in the environment you like.
It is a relatively new specialization, but many universities offer on-location classes. However, for those looking to upgrade their skills and knowledge while continuing to work, you can start an online MBA with healthcare concentration and take classes wherever and whenever you have time. Further specializations in management for healthcare systems have the following options:
a. Hospital Management
Previously, senior specialists held the responsibility of hospital management. However, hospital management has emerged as a separate field of study and career as healthcare evolves. A degree in this field prepares you to effectively manage and use financial and physical resources and connect them to the respective departments and stakeholders. Both medical and non-medical applicants can specialize in this field.
You can specialize in this field by completing bachelor’s, master’s, postgraduate diplomas, or doctorate courses. These programs prepare you for various functions like finance, leadership, communication, decision making, and others.
b. Administrative Management
The administration field is similar to hospital management, but its scope of work is quite different. In this field, you are the center of the healthcare management structure. You are responsible for dealing with stakeholders of the organization, especially the employees. You overlook the hiring process, train them, make their schedules, and ensure that everyone performs their roles and correctly does their jobs.
In this field of study, you not only learn about healthcare management but also about becoming an administrator who knows healthcare as well.
c. Financial Management
If you are interested in finances and are already working in the healthcare industry, specialization in financial management is for you. The field of study includes courses in budgeting, management of health finances, monetary planning, and forecasting.
Depending on the level of study, financial management also offers lessons on venture planning, accounting, and the development of financial plans, focusing on healthcare and its changing conditions. After specializing in this field, you can conduct budget planning, purchase healthcare resources like drugs and machinery, and work with insurance companies.
2. Healthcare Law & Policy
The laws and regulations in the healthcare industry tend to change frequently. Due to this, there is a demand for qualified legal advisors who understand the changes and adopt them timely and execute them effectively.
The legal landscape of the healthcare system is an ever-evolving phenomenon, making the stakes of laws and policies stronger. Whether you are a nurse, physician, paralegal, insurance worker, or simply a social worker, a master’s degree in healthcare law and policy can provide an excellent legal education, helping you grow easily in this fertile yet challenging field.
There are many areas of study in healthcare law and policy, including the applied healthcare law, health systems, public health, service delivery theory, and healthcare policy. The emphasis of these degrees is on developing new rules and policies or executing the current regulations. You can secure a good job in both the private and public sectors by specializing in these areas.
3. Healthcare Informatics
Healthcare informatics is about handling healthcare information in a digital format. Healthcare informatics comprises engineering and communication from data collection to its analysis. Here, you study the IT-based innovations in healthcare management, delivery, and planning. If you have an interest in technology, you can specialize in the following areas of healthcare:
a. Clinical Informatics
Clinical informatics prepares healthcare workers to deal with the IT challenges occurring in the workplace. It focuses on the ease of accessing the care, implementation of digital innovations in different areas of operations, and overseeing novel technologies for patient care. The Master’s program is the best option. It is usually 12-months long and is designed specifically for working professionals to pursue alongside their jobs.
b. Social Informatics
The new health-IT discipline uses and supports the clinical use of social factors in healthcare data. The scope of the study focuses on two aspects, data collected from clinical settings and data retrieved from the sources of a particular community. It is quite a new field of specialization, and very few universities offer this course currently. It will educate you about ways to study the social aspects of IT and its effects on social environments of health and patient care.
4. Health/Patient Advocacy
Patient Advocacy is also a relatively new field and has no specific degree for regulating a standard course of study at the postgraduate level. However, it does not mean that the domain is also unrecognized. Currently, many universities are offering diploma programs and certifications that you can pursue if you have a simple bachelor’s degree in social sciences or healthcare.
The specialization in patient advocacy helps you in educating patients about several things. With the help of these specialists, seniors and other patients choose their treatment options, learn about their basic rights to getting care, take legal actions in case of malpractice, receive safe accommodations, and review their insurance claims.
Since only 70% of patients have a patient advocate, including specialists and friends or family members, this field of study is expected to boom in the coming years.
Healthcare is a vibrant industry, and there are many areas of specialization for people interested in developing careers in this field. The current trend in the healthcare industry shows that many new disciplines are evolving. Further research and upgrades are still a part of the study programs. However, working in healthcare requires a vast set of skills and knowledge to provide quality services to all patients equally and play a positive role in the industry. Academic Specializations in these up-and-coming sectors can help you gain further expertise and enhance existing skills.