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How healthcare management needs to change to prepare future-ready healthcare professionals

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Prof Anil Kaul, Dean, School of Healthcare, Rishihood University emphasises that theoretical knowledge isn’t enough to teach healthcare professionals the experience of being out there and gives some suggestions on the path ahead to create a competent healthcare management workforce to keep pace with the projected growth of the sector

Health professions encompass a wide range of diverse careers which contribute directly and indirectly to the delivery of quality healthcare and services through the promotion of interdisciplinary communication, support and collaboration with a variety of health-care providers. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the crucial role that healthcare professionals play to prevent diseases and promote health. Public health professionals and clinicians fight the disease but behind the scenes, it is the healthcare technologists, laboratory technicians and healthcare administrators, who play a big role in promoting health, conducting and developing diagnostic tests and finding novel therapies. Today, more than ever, healthcare is being delivered by interprofessional teams which drive efficient cost-effective care in clinics, hospitals, laboratories, the community, and more.

Theoretical knowledge isn’t enough to teach healthcare professionals the experience of being out there. Experiential learning opportunities and clinical experiences are essential to progress in your passion. It’s ideal to have an ecosystem where people actively engage, focus on social impact, synthesise knowledge and also have an opportunity to take up different academic courses and get to learn in a multidisciplinary environment. Healthcare education must keep this in mind while allowing students to study in such a programme/course. Most universities try to focus on scholarship, research or getting placements, however, it’s also necessary to teach students the importance of core values and their impact on their skills.

College is the base level where students can be prepared for a dynamic healthcare environment and face opportunities and challenges head-on. It’s necessary that your passion is encouraged and you move forward on your path to any city/state/country and provide the best care that you’ve been trained to deliver.

Every university should aspire to be an active contributor in spreading the knowledge of health. It can be done through excellence and innovation in clinical education, research and scholarship. Also, an attempt to focus on educating students in a collaborative inter-professional learning environment and provide innovative training would add to this particular aspect.

With the global pandemic, we have realised the crucial role that healthcare professionals play. Such a situation of emergency requires healthcare students to be well-trained, focused and sturdy. According to a recent IBEF and Invest India report, the healthcare sector is expected to grow 22.9 per cent annually to a record $372 billion industry by 2022 from $160 billion in 2017. To respond to this exponential growth effectively, there is an urgent need to create a competent healthcare management workforce. There is a dearth of qualified healthcare management professionals, implying a rising demand for these professionals.

While the process of building a healthcare management workforce has started, there is still a huge scope for enhanced learning and training, to achieve the objective of developing a strong healthcare management workforce in India as per the High-Level Committee Report of 2011 on Universal Health Coverage, set up by the Government of India.

According to experts, this can be achieved by having dedicated faculty, quality education, innovative curriculum and continuous education. Institutions must promote doctoral programmes to build the workforce and future faculty. They need a more inquiry-driven form of learning with considerable hands-on training in actual healthcare facilities. Immersive learning will ensure that studies become a practical experience that is natural, effortless, and enjoyable.

There is a need for a central regulating body to assess the quality of healthcare management programmes, something similar to the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME), which does a formal accreditation for the various healthcare management programmes in the US.

There is a need to develop a pan-India standardised curriculum along with clinical or practical hands-on training as part of the curriculum. It also needs to educate the students that any solution to healthcare problems must achieve economic viability as well as adhere to the basic ethical values. It should be innovative and implement new opportunities to enhance efficiencies, improve care, and increase financial viability.

Besides, students need to be knowledgeable about innovation and entrepreneurship, including the development of skills in experimentation, evaluation, and revision to augment the search for practical and cost-effective healthcare solutions.

Courses should be developed and made available for working professionals to update themselves on the latest developments in the industry and develop new skill sets wherever relevant. Continuous education is essential to keep abreast with the changes which will enable professionals to make the necessary adjustments and function efficiently and bring excellence in their work environments.

The rapidly changing technologies require managers to have the capacity to cope with the dynamic nature of the field.

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