Healthcare Administration Curriculum

The MHA curriculum offers students the opportunity to build comprehensive expertise in healthcare administration and apply their learning throughout the program using innovative case studies built by executive-level instructors from healthcare fields of finance, human resources, quality, safety, strategy, and analytics.

Please see the academic catalog for additional information regarding the curriculum. Current students should refer to curriculum requirements in place at time of entry into the program. 



Core Courses

HCA 401: The American Healthcare System: Patient, Payor, and Provider

This course provides an overview of the healthcare and healthcare systems in the United States. Students will be taught to appreciate the structure and evolution; the interplay of hospitals and physician practices; how performance and funds flow are measured - all from the patient, payor and provider perspective. The course will provide foundational knowledge and allow students to explore major issues facing the healthcare systems through readings, case studies, and class discussions.  Students will understand the role of technology, regulation (CDC, FDA, CMS), healthcare finance, federal and state policies’ impact on the system, social determinants of health, and consider innovative ways to improve the current system.

HCA 402: Clinical Thinking for Healthcare Administrators and Clinical Managers

This course provides an overview of the clinical judgment required in healthcare settings and its impact on patient care. Students will gain familiarity with fundamentals of medical terminology, anatomy, body function, and key disease processes. Students will understand the impact of key healthcare data on the clinical thinking process, operational workflows, policy design and implementation and its impact on evidence-based medicine. The course will provide opportunities to address safety and quality through readings, case studies, and class discussions.

HCA 403: Change Management and People Leadership in Healthcare (HR1)

This course provides a foundation of how human resource management is applied in different healthcare settings. It focuses on the major elements of human resource management, as well as the ways in which it can be used in the strategic planning of the organizational performance. Students will learn about current human resources practice and issues from a healthcare perspective such as recruitment, contract/agreement, training/education/support, retention, performance evaluation, compensation, legal and regulatory issues, and strategic planning. Emphasis will be placed on communication techniques, self-analysis, and strategies for best practices in order to effectively implement key leadership and management concepts in dynamic healthcare environments.

HCA 404: Financial Management in Healthcare Organizations (Finance1)

This course introduces the terminology, theory, concepts and techniques used in the finance functions in healthcare organizations that are relevant to a healthcare administrator. Students gain an understanding of the important role of finance in healthcare organizations and learn various techniques to develop, manage, and control finances. Through case studies, students will interpret financial statements, prepare analyses, calculate Return on Investment (ROI), and conduct break-even analyses. The course provides students with experience in capital and operating budgets, financial forecasts, and business plan preparation. Students will be expected to have a sufficient level of competence in their utilization of spreadsheet applications.

HCA 405: Data Driven Healthcare Management: Why Data Matters

This course introduces students to various business insights that healthcare organizations can gain from their data analytics efforts. By using various cases studies, students will learn about modern computing architectures and technologies, modern data visualization methods and tools, statistical and forecasting methods, as well as data mining techniques. Students will gain a working knowledge of fundamental data analytic methods and approaches for detecting and analyzing patterns across large amounts of business-related data. This course provides a comprehensive examination of the principles and practices of the management of health information. It will also utilize relevant case studies to apply data to operational issues within the patient care continuum.

HCA 410: Leading Quality Care and Ethical Compliance

This course examines leadership through case studies in a variety of contexts and cultures, taking into consideration the various legal, ethical, policy, and compliance issues that arise in the delivery of quality healthcare. The course will familiarize students with leading approaches to ensuring clinical quality and patient safety. Students will also discuss legal issues in the healthcare field, and how healthcare administrators may interact with the legal system and lawyers. Students will be introduced to the nature of health policy making and implementation and health politics, with an opportunity to develop an in-depth understanding of current healthcare policy issues as well as those in a global healthcare context. 

HCA 411: Leadership Development and Organizational Behavior (HR2)

This course will help students appreciate and identify various individual leadership talents in handling organizational challenges, such as leading organizational change, building strong culture, developing effective teams, resolving conflicts, problem-solving and implementing effective motivational systems. Key values that guide a leader's personal and professional behavior and influence overall effectiveness will be explored, as well as their impact on overall leadership styles. Introduction to organization theory and behavior with focus on health services organizations, facilitated by reading and class discussion. Topics of discussion will include: organizational relationships and performance, power and leadership, perception, motivation, communication, and group dynamics through examples of problem-solving, critical thinking and crisis management. Woven among these elements will be understanding and applying the difference between management and leadership. Individuals will understand the importance of corporate values, leading change management, and strengthening collaboration. Prerequisite: HCA 403.

HCA 412: Healthcare Value and Revenue Cycle Management (Finance 2)

This course introduces healthcare administrators to information directly related to a modern healthcare revenue cycle and the impact that this process has on the financial viability of all healthcare organizations. Students will discuss and apply economic analyses to the health services sector; topics of discussion include the concept of efficiency and distribution of health services, health insurance, government programs, healthcare personnel, and health services organizations. Students will learn about emerging reimbursement trends and payment models within the regulatory parameters. Prerequisite: HCA 404.

HCA 413: Healthcare Organizations: Operations and Performance Improvement

This course introduces the tools and techniques of contemporary project management. It incorporates the prior experience in leadership, management, planning and team development. The course will address time management and the difference between management of ongoing operations and new projects, as well as the need for a disciplined approach when planning and executing projects. Specific topics will include: continuous quality improvement and re-engineering, demand forecasting, facility location and design models, decision analysis techniques, and patient access models. Students will understand the language, applications, and limitations of quantitative models with regard to decision making and problem solving in healthcare organizations. Students will define variations and methods and tools to differentiate among Process and Performance Improvement, Project Management and the intersection of utilizing data and research to maximize outcomes. Prerequisite: HCA 405.

HCA 420: Operating in the Patient-Centric Healthcare Environment and Structures

The course will focus on enhancing students’ effectiveness as healthcare leaders by expanding their capabilities in organizational structure and leadership, and within the ever-evolving health ecosystem. The course will develop student skills in observation and reflection on individual behavior, group processes, and healthcare systems. Students will understand the importance of personal leadership and lifelong learning, with a focus on helping them enhance their self-awareness concerning strengths and development needs as they relate to their career aspirations. Course will discuss legacy organizational structures in academic and community settings, as well as current patient-centric approach via key service lines (oncology, women's, cardiovascular, neuro, and musculoskeletal). Additional learnings will include developing and executing creative ways to review and improve the patient-centered care model. Prerequisite: HCA 401.

HCA 430: Defining Value in a Market: Strategic Planning and Marketing

This course aims to integrate the knowledge and skills developed during the program's foundational courses into the context of strategic management of healthcare organizations. Learning is supported by individual and team analysis of complex health management cases. Students will be aware of approaches to managing and marketing health services from a strategic perspective, including the regulatory landscape. We will address techniques for determining strategies for unique services, integration of strategy, structure, and administrative systems. This course provides an overview of the principal components of healthcare innovation, including business planning, raising philanthropic funds, and innovation in existing healthcare organizations.

HCA 498: Capstone: Final Business Project and Program Development

This course provides students with opportunities to apply the fundamentals of strategic planning and marketing, human resources, finance, analytics, and operations acquired in previous courses to approach practical problems and decisions faced by real healthcare systems and may include policy or product development and other services innovation. As healthcare is a team sport, students will be expected to work on the project with a colleague. Ideally, the project will address an applicable and current issue in the student’s current organization such as problem-solving a crisis management issue. For students who do not have this option, senior managers from the program will "pitch" the potential projects to students to choose. Students apply techniques of situational assessment, data analysis, strategy development, problem solving, and critical thinking. As the capstone course, students are expected to integrate their knowledge and to apply it to healthcare case studies. Students analyses will be guided by the practicing professionals, who are their faculty mentors, and consistent with the mission, vision and core values of an organization. The outcome is an improved ability to think from the patient point of view, analyze critically, identify key challenges, complete strategic plan for main business problems, and communicate those clearly and effectively to various stakeholders. Projects will host key elements defined by relevance, realistic, consequential, measurable and include more than two distinguishable stakeholders. Projects will be scoped in a reasonable definition and timeline in order to make a marked impact and change within the student’s own organization. Ideal projects utilize the strength and bandwidth of the faculty sponsor and the program's relationship with Northwestern University and the Feinberg School of Medicine. The project is built in concept at the start and continues through the program culminating and a faculty presentation.

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