With the industry growing rapidly, healthcare management professionals have to be made more productive and competent
Healthcare management professionals provide a link between clinical and ancillary support in a medical system. Healthcare systems globally have faced a number of significant challenges during the current pandemic, which has further highlighted the crucial role of medical management.
According to a recent IBEF and Invest India report, the sector is expected to grow 22.9% annually to a record $372 billion by 2022. In order to respond to this effectively, there is an urgent need for a competent healthcare management workforce.
In 2011, the High Level Committee Report on Universal Health Coverage, set up by the Government of India, recommended the introduction of a specialised health systems management workforce at the state level and public health service cadre at the national level. Though the process of building the workforce has started, there is still scope for enhanced learning and training.
Quality of education
There is a need to build capacity to meet the demand for a dedicated faculty. The teaching methodologies also need to be re-examined. A more inquiry-driven form of learning, along with considerable hands-on training in actual healthcare facilities rather than didactic lectures, is needed. The concept of immersive learning enables learners to harness multiple sources to acquire and synthesise knowledge, thereby ensuring that learning becomes natural, effortless, and enjoyable.
Due to the absence of standardised programmes at various institutions offering health management programmes, there is a large variation in the training and performance of graduates. Therefore, there is a need for a central regulating body to assess the quality of programmes, and monitor educational institutions.
Innovation and standardisation
There is an urgent need to develop a pan-India standardised curriculum and to increase hands-on training. Given the regional diversity in the country, some amount of flexibility will be required to adapt the curriculum to local needs. Healthcare management education must involve science, medicine, information technology, economics, individual and group behaviour, public policy, and finance and also educate the students about ethical practices to make them understand that any solution to healthcare problems must not only achieve economic viability, but also adhere to basic ethical values. The curriculum must also be innovative enough for students to observe and implement new opportunities to enhance efficiency, improve care, and increase financial feasibility.
Students need to also be knowledgeable about innovation and entrepreneurship so that they experiment, evaluate and augment the search for practical, cost-effective solutions. This may be achieved by a flexible credit structure that allows students to enrol of a variety of academic courses and learn in a multi-disciplinary environment.
Courses also need to be developed and made available for working professionals to keep abreast of the latest developments and develop new skill sets. Lifelong learning must form an essential part of the education system.
The writer is professor and Dean, School of Healthcare at Rishihood University