Among the many paths pursued by healthcare scholars, there are five areas of research for a Doctor of Healthcare Administration Student that will significantly impact the future of the profession. As the health sector of the economy expands, each of these fields becomes increasingly important and, as a consequence, in need of study and inquiry.
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The health and well-being of hospital staff, as well as patients, is premised on a safe and sanitary environment. It is also worth noting that a medical facility that is clean, secure and intact is in much less danger from a liability perspective. In view of these realities, doctoral programs in healthcare administration recruit faculty and conduct research in occupational safety and efficiency, developing designs and policies that reduce risk and promote secure workplaces. Since large numbers of patients still die in hospitals from what are preventable deaths, this area of research is needed and growing.
Since hospitals began keeping patient charts, medical records and documentation have always been a chore. Encompassing more than just dosages and temperatures, patient records include medical histories, clinical discoveries, diagnostic test results and post-surgical monitoring. Meticulous maintenance of this information gives physicians the knowledge they need for informed decision-making. Equally important, it protects practitioners from legal exposure. Healthcare administration students can pursue this as a doctoral specialty, combining research in cutting-edge information technology with the fundamentals of patient care.
Financial managers operate at the very heart of healthcare administration. Hospitals, clinics, private practices and senior care must all meet budget restrictions and determine their optimal streams of revenue. Accordingly, their financial officers—all well-versed in economics and accounting—are responsible for pricing and spending. At the university level, faculty and doctoral candidates in healthcare administration continue to discover new methods to reduce costs and enhance income so that medical institutions can serve the public without hindrance. Integrating delivery services and streamlining the various modes of payment are common subjects for healthcare finance scholars.
Health Care Policy
As health care is increasingly a public affairs issue, students working for terminal degrees in health care administration may choose to focus on government regulation and health care legislation. How legislation is crafted and administrative law is decided will naturally affect the delivery of medical services and the placement of cost burdens. This field can touch on such issues as insurance liability, drug testing, pharmaceutical research protocols and physician continuing education, to name just a few. In the course of treatment, few patients realize that what goes on in clinics and hospitals is as much dictated by politicians as by medical societies.
The study of the spatial distribution, timeline and variables relative to various diseases and injuries has a direct impact on the way health care is managed. Providers must know the history and prior locations of a pathological outbreak in order to be prepared with sufficient quantities of vaccines and personnel. This is why researchers working on doctorates in healthcare administration opt to specialize in epidemiology. Needless to say, the field becomes much more relevant as global travel and international shipping increase. As teachers and scientists, newly minted doctors of healthcare administration discover previously unknown pathways and patterns of illnesses and injuries that give practitioners more tools to combat them.
These are only some examples for the prospective graduate student to consider. As the healthcare industry expands, so too does the academic investigation, beginning with these five areas of research for the doctor of healthcare administration student.