The FINANIAL -- The University of Scranton (Pennsylvania, USA) has launched a joint project in cooperation with the Caucasus School of Business at Caucasus University (CU) and the University of Georgia to support the health reforms in Georgia by graduating 40 students with the Master of Business Administration degrees in Hospital Administration and Insuarance Management.
The project is being implemented by means of USAID and American International Health Alliance (AIHA) support. The FINANCIAL interviewed Dr. Dan West, Chairman and Associate Professor, Department of Health Administration and Human Resources, the University of Scranton, teaching the first module regarding the effect the project could have on health administration development in Georgia.
Q. Caucasus University (CU) in cooperation with the University of Scranton (Pennsylvania, USA) has launched a new program in Health Administration. What’s been the reason of the initiative and what’s the main message you’d like to deliver to the local students?
A. With this very specific project Scranton University is motivated to put together health reforms in Georgia. We’re working with the faculties from the two local universities: CU and UG.
The idea is to provide 6 courses over the next 8 months for 40 students. We’re teaching the area of hospital administration and health management insurance. These are the two most needed areas as in Georgia there are some ongoing changes in this field like the initiative to develop 100 new hospitals.
The purpose of this course is a very specialized concentration, which is to prepare people for the challenges in the market.
Q. According to what criteria were these students selected?
A. The selection process was the responsibility of the two universities. CU and UG chose students who are almost finished with their MBAs. The courses are being taught in English and according to high international standards.
There are three modules that all 40 students must take. The first is healthcare leadership- the one I’m teaching; the second will be a course about managed care, and the third- quality measurement and evaluation. In addition we have three more specialized courses in insurance management and hospital administration, respectively.
Eventually we’ll get 40 trained MBAs, half in hospital management and the other half in health insurance. Also, the local faculty members are being trained as part of this project. All of this will ensure future sustainability of the MBA program in Healthcare Administration. For instance, I am aware that the Caucasus School of Business (at Caucasus University) will regularly offer Health Administration specializations, such as Hospital Administration or insuarance management, as part of their highly regarded Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program.
Q. You’re teaching the first module for the students, do you feel you are getting the right feedback from the participants?
A. As it’s an MBA course, most of the participants have some work experience. Some even have a professional background in the healthcare industry. Academic requirements are rigorous - each of the students has to read the books and pass the exams, do projects and deliver presentations.
The selection of the students is superb. This is a very strong cooperation model as now we have two local universities working together which is pretty unusual for Georgia.
Q. Do you have plans to launch joint projects with any medical institutions in the country?
A. Scranton University has been involved in very interesting projects in Hong Kong and Mexico. I personally have had the experience in Slovakia. Some of the Slovakian faculty members will be teaching here as well and it’s going to be an interesting precedent as their reforms are ahead of those in Georgia.
Q. What are common issues of concern you come across in different countries worldwide?
A. There are always common issues globally in the three major areas: financing, quality care, and access to care. These are issues that occur in every country in the world.
I started coming to Georgia in late 1999. I’ve seen some of the initial healthcare reforms that have been implemented. Obviously changes in government are followed by different reforms and this is very natural. I can see new health policies that are being introduced.
I can see the changes that have being happening in Georgia, for instance, the number of hospitals have decreased, the number of hospital beds have decreased, some of the financing changes are obvious. Georgia is moving forward though some of these reforms are difficult to implement and that’s the same in any country.
In the past I worked with the National Institute of Health in Georgia and this was in conjunction with the Ministry of Health at that time. The project envisioned preparations for certification of management in health care and we did it. It’s now at university level.
Q. You seem to like Disney’s quotation: “We are the shapers of the world of tomorrow.”
Considering the 27 years of practicing healthcare administration, could you name any concrete examples of the changes, challenges and growth opportunities you’ve truly enjoyed?
A. Health care is a very universal notion. It’s very hard to say that we’re only concerned about health care in Georgia. We’re concerned about health care in the whole region just as well as Georgia is itself concerned about what’s happening in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey. No matter whether it is global warming or an infectious disease, it’s an issue for everyone because the world is so mobile and people are coming and crossing Georgia’s borders every day.
Georgia wants to be part of the European Union (EU) and the country has to meet some requirements in terms of the health sector to become a member because health care is a global concern.
Daniel J. West, Jr., Ph.D., FACHE, FACMPE, FAAMA
Chairman and Associate Professor
Department of Health Administration and Human Resources
B.S., The Pennsylvania State University
M.Ed., The Pennsylvania State University
Ph.D., The Pennsylvania State University
Courses Regularly Taught:
Leadership in Health Care Organizations
Health Services and Systems
International Comparative Health Care Services and Systems
Medical Practice Administration
Cultural Diversity and Health Administration
American College of Healthcare Executives
American College of Medical Practice Executives
College of Osteopathic Healthcare Executives
American Academy of Medical Administrators
American College of Health Care Administrators
American Academy of Behavioural Medicine
Association of Behavioural Healthcare Management
American Association of Healthcare Consultants
Editorial Board, Journal of Health Management and Public Health
Editorial Board, Journal of Health Sciences Management and Public Health
Board Member, Regents Advisory Council of ACHE
Board Member, Scranton Counselling Centre
Board Member, Behavioural Health Research Institute
Board Member, Healthcare Management Forum of NEPA
Member, IRB, Scranton-Temple Residency Program