Why Students Who Understand Business and Health Care Are in High Demand

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Calli Mudge helped raise $200,000 for the kids at the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital over her four years studying as an undergraduate. She did that by working with a collegiate-level fundraising group called Up ’til Dawn. When she arrived at Bentley University, she only knew that she wanted to go into business. Health care wasn’t really on her radar, but after finding the group at an activities fair, her mind was made up. Health care would be part of her career.

Now, Mudge is the committee chair at Boston Young Healthcare Professionals, a nonprofit group, and works developing marketing strategies that support the city’s local health care professionals. In fact, she said finding a job after college was no sweat.

“Given these valuable experiences and the strong demand for health care workers with a background in business, I had no trouble finding a full-time job in health care marketing and communications during the summer after graduation,” Mudge wrote in College Xpress blog.

That outcome isn’t surprising for students in her field. Numerous health care institutions are jumping at the chance to hire individuals who know about both business and health care.

Medical opportunities grow with no end in sight
Due to an increased number of insured people under the Affordable Care Act, and simply because people are living longer than ever, there is a clear need for more medical professionals to care for incoming patients. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that the health care and social assistance sector would generate 5.6 million jobs and grow by 3 percent annually from 2010 to 2020.

But how does greater demand for doctors and nurses benefit students who might be a little more squeamish and a lot more business focused?

While every hospital and health care institution needs a staff of capable medical professionals, they also need people who can keep the lights on and the business (yes, health care is a business) profitable. They need business pros who know how to manage, market and more. It’s no surprise, then, that employment for medical and health services managers is also predicted to increase a great deal in coming years.

At Bentley University, where Health Studies are integrated with an innovative business curriculum, Professor Danielle Hartigan, PhD, says students are graduating with a distinct set of skills, putting them in a great position to succeed in the health care industry.

“Students in our Health Studies program and other health-related programs at Bentley are well-positioned for many types of careers, including health-care management and policy, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and public health,” Hartigan says. “They can be successful in their careers and know they are working to improve the health-care system and make a difference to the patient experience.”

Health care delivery is an inefficient business
What’s more, there may be a growing need to drive down the cost of health care in the U.S., which will inevitably require individuals with training and experience in business to find where to make cuts. Anyone who doesn’t believe health care in the U.S. needs to become less expensive may want to consider gains being made in medical tourism. Thousands of U.S. citizens are leaving the country to receive affordable and reliable care in other nations. That competition is already driving health care providers to make changes.

“Patients are billed hundreds for IV therapy while IV bags cost $1.”

And there is a great deal of room for affordable change. Take, for instance, the price of an IV bag. The New York Times ran an expose about how this item – which costs just $1 to produce – turns into an expense worth hundreds of dollars for patients.

The bags filled with saline solution navigate through a complex deals with drug companies, purchasing organizations, distributors, insurers and more until finally the price has been so inflated that patients are left with bills that far exceed the actual cost of the product. People who specialize in the business of medicine, not the practice itself, are the ones who need to untangle and streamline this affair and countless others.

Bentley’s Hartigan agrees that better interaction between business and science types could help reduce inefficiencies and increase the general level of care for patients.

“In my area, which involves the promotion of healthy behaviors and improvement of health-care quality from the patient’s perspective, researchers have come up with innovative and evidence-based solutions to some of our greatest challenges,” says Hartigan. “However, many of these successful interventions never get widely implemented. We need the business sector to work with scientists and researchers to help disseminate and scale successful programs in a way that’s cost-effective and engaging to patients.”

Start a health care business
And for anyone that wants to start a business, health care is one of the best franchise options around. In fact, three of the top 10 organizations on the Forbes 2014 Best Franchises list were home health care brands. While it could cost $500,000 to open a fast food restaurant, the majority of home health care franchises require a $150,000 investment or less. For that initial cost, the average first year’s revenue is around $248,000. In other words, not only is a home health care business normally very cheap to start, it also makes an admirable profit margin. Moreover, the professionals can rest easy knowing the work they do benefits all parties involved.

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Bentley University, where your education prepares you for a life of interesting challenges and even more interesting ideas and answers. From your first day on campus, you’ll study what makes the world work – fundamentals of business and markets – AND what the world thinks – the broad perspective of the arts and sciences. It’s a powerful combination with limitless opportunity.