Change is inevitable in every aspect of our lives. In a business environment, change may not always be welcome, but it is expected. Changes in the business environment happen constantly, to businesses in every industry. The healthcare industry is no exception. Professionals who wish to further their career in healthcare through earning an online Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a Concentration in Healthcare Management will have many opportunities to explore how to navigate change in the business environment.
What Causes Change in Business Environments?
The economy fluctuates up or down on a daily basis, frequently causing businesses to alter the way they operate. New competitors enter the marketplace while others leave. Ever-shifting weather patterns and natural disasters can force a change in a business environment, as can political events, wars and the adoption or rejection of laws and rules.
Advancing technologies and innovation lead to changes in the products or services a business offers, the marketing strategies and channels businesses use, the information systems businesses rely on and how operations are managed. For example, electronic medical records, health informatics and numerous medical technologies have reshaped healthcare delivery and management.
Businesses are also forced to change internally when key employees get a new job, retire, get sick or leave the workforce for another reason. In the case of healthcare organizations, an aging population of staff approaching retirement — and an aging public population in need of more in-depth healthcare services — has led to regular healthcare staff shortages throughout the country. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated these shortages as demand for nurses, healthcare managers and other healthcare professionals skyrocketed, far exceeding the supply.
Change can also be dynamic, impacting numerous intertwined industries simultaneously. For instance, circumstances surrounding the pandemic necessitated nearly universal organizational change and crisis-level response. The healthcare sector became overwhelmed, pushing staff, resources and the supply chains healthcare services rely on far beyond the limits. Businesses in industries of all types pivoted to meet the shifting needs of people, prioritizing safety, healthcare and preparedness. Some scholars even point out that the pandemic spurred a rethinking of organizational change itself.
Further, recent years have been rife with societal unrest and movements for social justice. Consumers are looking for more value-based alignment from the companies and organizations they support. This social pressure is leading organizations to change everything from mission to company culture, service offerings to materials sourcing.
For example, while ethical issues have always been a focal point of the healthcare industry, recent years have seen much more emphasis placed on achieving health equity in the healthcare system. In shining a light on gross inequities in healthcare access and outcomes, the pandemic further reinforced this growing drive for health equity. The public now expects management of healthcare organizations to be ethics-driven, affecting organizational change to increase access to care, quality of care, community health education and other measures of health equity.
How Can Organizations Manage Change?
No matter whether change is abrupt or evolves over a period of time, business owners and leaders must revisit their companies’ strategic plans on a regular basis. Critical to business success, strategic planning involves vision and mission, and knowing how and when a business should adapt to change.
Strategic planning is the blueprint of where a business is now and the action plan of where it is heading. Understanding the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats — also known as SWOT analysis — of a business can help determine a company’s goals and the strategies necessary to achieve those goals.
One of the most important facets of a high-level business manager’s role is change management, the systematic approach of preparing an organization for growth and creating processes that effectively deal with change in a business environment.
Understanding the economic, technological and social challenges — as well as the marketing environment — of an organization is pivotal to strategic change management. In order for an organization to grow and innovate, change must be planned, implemented and executed with constant communication between managers and staff so that everyone feels empowered and part of the change process.
Yet, unforeseen or surprising conditions that are external to a business’ operations may require crisis management and rapid, unplanned change to ensure an organization’s survival and continued success — the pandemic being a prime example. And, as noted above, such crises and the necessary change they provoke can inspire innovation and reshape conceptions of effective change management.
During the pandemic, healthcare management professionals had to adapt with lightening speed to dramatically shifting conditions. This involved instituting more rapid, responsive and iterative models of change management, as opposed to following one-sized-fits-all strategic change plans. Many businesses will likely continue to use these innovative models of responsive change management as they allow for more organizational agility and resilience in today’s disruptive, uncertain business environment.
Change Management in an Online MBA Program
Studying topics like strategy development, organizational behavior and strategic leadership can help professionals develop the ability to effectively create, implement and manage change in a business environment. An experienced professional pursuing a high-level healthcare industry role such as healthcare manager, human resources manager or chief executive officer can study and develop expertise in these topics through earning an MBA degree.
An online MBA program offers a solid foundation in these essential strategic business management subjects while affording working professionals the convenience and flexibility of studying anytime, anywhere. Core courses also cover traditional and contemporary business administration disciplines like accounting, finance, operations management, global business, marketing and human resources management.
Many MBA programs focus on a particular specialization or concentration. Reflecting incredibly rapid growth in the field of medical and health services management, the University of Texas at Tyler offers a specialized, 100% online MBA with a Concentration in Healthcare Management. In addition to coursework on core subjects discussed above, healthcare management concentration courses focus on topics like the U.S. healthcare system, current trends in healthcare marketing and contemporary issues and topics in the field.
Additionally, an online MBA program will help professionals develop essential business management skills and competencies, such as leadership, teamwork, communication, critical thinking and problem-solving. A specialized online MBA program is tailored for each student, and students who are working professionals can apply the practical skills they learn to actual situations on a current job. This can provide students with in-depth preparation for more complex situations they will likely face in the future.
A professional with an MBA in healthcare management can be a valuable team member, helping a healthcare organization adapt to fast-changing conditions and business environments while keeping that organization ahead of the competition.