Four years ago, Jenni Gudapati, clinical associate professor and Value-Based Healthcare program director, began by putting together a certificate program that taught professionals already working in health care – executives, managers and all sorts of clinicians – the fundamentals of what is termed in health care “value.” It’s a broad and fairly abstract philosophy that, fundamentally, holds that the business of healthcare is broken, and that for all stakeholders to get value, better care must be delivered more appropriately, more efficiently and at far more reasonable costs.
“Under the current payment structure, there just haven’t been payment mechanisms to keep people out of hospitals,” she said. “My particular passion and focus is to close the rural and urban disparity gap.”
The value-based healthcare certificate program, started with a cohort of 10 participants in January of 2020 and more recently turning out about 60 graduates per year in two annual cohorts, has been immensely popular. The certificate demonstrated the need for value-based healthcare education, but showed more in depth and detailed teaching was necessary. The gap that the new Master in Population and Health Systems Management degree solves is how to put value into action and is already finding a very receptive audience. Students have been hospital and clinic administrators both financial and clinical in nature, revenue-cycle managers, consultants, who take part from their homes and offices across the country in this executive style program.
Two cohorts of full-time health care professionals have launched, one in January and one this fall; first participants will graduate in about a year. Coursework is entirely online and supplemented by weekly live sessions with faculty members. Participants take one seven-week course at a time, two per semester. The ninth course is a capstone project that has participants designing health care delivery models and accounting for every factor: patient population targets, expenses, costs, revenue, analytics, policies and regulations and their ramifications and everything in between. Graduates also receive the four highly desirable Healthcare Financial Management Association certifications throughout the degree program.
In early October, Boise State’s College of Health Sciences and the Healthcare Financial Management Association learned that the program they started from scratch was named one of five founding programs for certification from the Commission on the Accreditation for Healthcare Management Education which then approved the rapidly emerging field as a need for accreditation. It’s the first recognition by this commission for Boise State University, and provides an exciting opportunity, states Gudapati. Further, she has been named to the quality standards committee that will set parameters for other schools seeking accreditation in population health management. The commission recognition puts Boise State on the map with a select group of known change-maker universities, which is meaningful for students, the college, the university – and hospitals, health systems, clinics, medical professionals and thousands and thousands of patients.
“It is very progressive in nature,” Gudapati said. “We designed a program to teach health care from some of the best of the best. It’s an amazing way to view health care.”
And what students hear in the classes, they’re already able to put into practice. So, for example, classes in risk prediction taught by experts in health care insurance, or business intelligence taught by the architects of the Affordable Care Act, have an immediacy about them that a more conventional academic approach might not.
“All faculty are real-world, industry folks,” she said. “Our students are employed in some aspect of health care, and they know we are not currently doing it correctly. Here, they are learning every day from leaders in the industry who are making the change.”