Mastering the business of healthcare

by Alison Myles

29 July 2020

There’s been a sharp rise in interest in the HFMA’s online learning programmes – possibly as a result of the move to home working for many NHS staff during the Covid-19 response. And there is something to meet all requirements from individual bitesize courses through to masters-level qualifications.

Earlier this year, seven NHS professionals, from both finance and clinical backgrounds, became the first people ever to gain an MBA in healthcare finance. Their success is the result of a lot of hard work, commitment and determination as well as their willingness to share experiences, knowledge and insight. These are some of the HFMA Academy’s first students and we are delighted that they have been able to achieve their ultimate goal.

As part of their final year study programme with BPP university, the students undertake a healthcare consultancy project. HFMA’s Policy and Research Committee has agreed to provide students with non-academic support and each student is assigned a committee member as their sponsor. This provides a fantastic opportunity for the students to research an area of specific interest to them that also delivers some real benefits for the NHS.

The breadth of projects produced to date has been excellent with a focus on a range of issues including: the leadership skills needed to support the transition to integrated care systems; delivering value in the treatment of specific cohorts of patients; and the impact of structure and culture on the delivery of efficiency. Summaries of some of the projects will be published over the next few months with links to the full projects.

A further eight students are due to complete their MBAs by the end of this year. We are again anticipating a rich mix of innovative and insightful research on healthcare business and finance to draw upon that will help the NHS to tackle some of the enormous challenges it faces.

With the impact of Covid-19, many of our current learners across our full range of programmes had to temporarily halt their studies while they focused solely on the day job. However, most are keen to return and pick up where they left off. A surprising number of learners steadfastly continued throughout the crisis, some found it a welcome distraction and others reported that they had more time than before. The big advantage is that our programmes are all online, which meant that delivery could continue as normal.

In fact, we’re noticing a sharp rise in interest in our online learning – both our qualification programmes and our HFMA bitesize courses. People seem to be far more confident and optimistic about the prospect of learning online, many having spent the past few months working remotely. Another key attraction of our Academy-run diploma programmes are the weekly live online sessions. This enables students to see other faces and chat with their tutor and fellow learners, gaining different perspectives from clinicians as well as finance colleagues.

It's great to see such a broad range of learners doing our qualifications. The aim has always been to provide a programme that is far wider than traditional finance qualifications and is specifically focused on the business of healthcare.

Modules such as Tools for decision making and Creating and delivering value, for example, are particularly popular with both clinicians and finance professionals. We’ve now also taken on the awarding of the Diploma in advanced primary care management (DAPCM), which was previously awarded by National Association of Primary Care, and it’s very exciting to be working with practice managers, GPs and other primary care professionals. Several of these learners have gone on to study for our advanced higher diploma with their sights set firmly on the MBA.

Studying for a masters’ qualification is big commitment and many people just don’t have the time or the money to do it. We want to make our qualifications as accessible as possible to everyone. So we’ve been coming up with ideas to increase flexibility. You can choose to study for one module to gain a certificate, three modules to gain a diploma, six modules to gain a higher diploma or you can go the whole hog and opt for the full MBA. We’re now also offering the option of self-study via the bitesize route, where you can study for one topic at a time at your own pace and build up to a certificate or diploma. Hopefully there’s something for everyone!   

It's a real privilege to support such enquiring, enthusiastic and talented learners in our academy and to witness their remarkable achievements. We’re looking forward to welcoming more online learners over the coming months.

Find out more about the HFMA qualifications or about the HFMA bitesize courses.