My Last Blog!
First let me start off by thanking the AUPHA members for giving me the honor to serve as Board Chair of AUPHA. It is truly one of the highlights of my professional career. This year went fast and that is due in large part to working with a great team. The AUPHA Board and Staff are incredibly talented and a key part of my job as board chair was not to get in their way.
I decided that in the spirit of the annual meeting theme I would look back to look forward. I was fortunate to talk with 12 past AUPHA Board Chairs and ask them three questions:
- What do you foresee as primary concerns/issues for the healthcare management industry in the future?
- What do you foresee as primary concerns/issues for the higher education industry in the future?
- What do you foresee as primary concerns/issues for the AUPHA in the future?
The past chairs had served AUPHA from in the early 1990s to more recently. Despite the difference in the decades she/he served as AUHPA Board Chair, there were many commonalities in the collective responses.
When responding to the question about the healthcare management industry the biggest “theme” was change. The forces for and causes of the change in healthcare management are both diverse and divergent. Examples include moving from a curative focused system toward a population health and a more preventative based system; an aging patient base being taken care of by an aging workforce; societal demographic changes; disruptive technological forces; decreasing numbers of stand-alone healthcare facilities; reimbursement constraints and changes; and policy modifications. Summarizing the good news is that there still are lots of opportunities but the opportunities will be in new areas and we need to learn to do things differently.
AUPHA member programs will have to respond to educate the future managers and workers of the evolving healthcare system. In the future there will be a great need for managers with a systems approach to work as part of interdisciplinary teams to take care of distinct populations. Having one specific organizational focus for students may not guarantee success in the future. AUPHA has to remain in the forefront in linking the healthcare management field to students at all levels.
The second question echoed the responses to the first question. Change is occurring in the environment and the end point is unclear. Common responses from former board chairs focus on the cost of tuition, declining enrollments, increased competition, and a changing political landscape. Essentially, higher education institutions are being challenged to demonstrate that their value is beneficial considering the investment of resources and time. AUPHA has assisted member programs thorough curriculum development, accreditation (historically) and certification at the program level, and advocacy for the profession. AUPHA must continue to add value to members via existing means and, more importantly, new ways. Now is not the time to be static.
Former board chairs were quite clear when discussing the future of AUPHA. The organization must grow and evolve to continue to remain in the forefront of health administration education. AUPHA’s first emphasis was university programs educating master’s level students focusing on hospital administration. Overtime, undergraduate and doctoral programs came in to the mix because graduates from university programs were going into a wide variety of healthcare organizations at various levels. I would say we are entering into another shift in the healthcare management field. Member programs, with AUPHA’s assistance, need to prepare the next generation of managers and leaders with the knowledge, skills, and abilities and competencies to manage and lead in this “new” environment.
As we celebrate AUPHA’s 70th birthday in Philadelphia, I hope we take a moment to look back and reflect on our proud history. AUPHA has contributed in numerous ways to help members improve the educational knowledge of healthcare managers and leaders. Our past AUPHA board members and organizational leaders have led us to a good spot. As both the healthcare management and higher educational operational environments change, AUPHA is well-positioned to adapt and grow in response to these changes. However, we cannot rest as an organization. In order to fulfill our mission of fostering excellence and innovation in health management and policy education, and scholarship, AUPHA must work to continue to add value to members, develop and strengthen key partnerships, and be an advocate for the healthcare management profession.
As my time as board chair draws to an end and I look forward, I see an unknown future for both AUPHA and its members. What I do know is that if we continue to work together, this organization can remain in the forefront of healthcare management education. It will take work, the asking of thought-provoking questions, and the envisioning of new solutions to problems unknown at this time. From what I have witnessed, we are up to the challenge!