Column | Healthcare Reform

HFMA, Boise State launch innovative Master in Population and Health Systems Management degree

Column | Healthcare Reform

HFMA, Boise State launch innovative Master in Population and Health Systems Management degree

For more than a decade, HFMA has worked with leading health systems, industry experts, associations and universities to evaluate and accelerate the move toward value-based care — primarily through the HFMA Value Project, but in other ways too. As the thinking and work has evolved, HFMA has shifted to talking about the cost effectiveness of health (CEoH) and how to transform the industry from its path of continuous growth to becoming more cost effective as a long-term goal.

Central to this CEoH goal is recognition that the U.S. healthcare system must expand from addressing patients’ acute care needs to managing all aspects of patient health. 

To shift the culture and standards of practice of care — from emergent medicine to population health and chronic care management programs — requires a complete modernization and overhaul of the global healthcare industry.

PHSM Program details

To that end, HFMA has unveiled a collaborative program co-created and delivered by Boise State University — the Master in Population and Health Systems Management (PHSM) degree. Having a world-class faculty composed of physicians, actuaries, payment model experts and financial experts will help bridge the gaps between the clinical, operational and financial fields. And it will assist in delivering an education focused on optimizing health outcomes while overcoming constraints and mitigating risk to find real solutions to current and future community health needs.

This partnership is an industry game- changing opportunity because the degree addresses the modern needs in healthcare education through the lens of population health, risk mitigation and finance. It explores the relationship between epidemiology and actuarial science in the context of population health, and then operationalizes the theory and brings to practice the business intelligence and management skills necessary to be successful in the changing healthcare landscape. Students will examine the basics of insurance with analysis at the patient level to create care plans and best practices that mitigate risk and promote best patient outcomes.

HFMA Certifications as part of the degree

Graduates of this program will have the opportunity to earn the four industry-recognized certifications from HFMA (CHFP, CSBI, CSAF and CRCR) incorporated into this master’s degree.  
To learn more about the certifications, visit, click on “Education & Events,” and then on “Certifications.”

Although the courses in the program will incorporate the examinations related to the certifications, the program will provide much more, including:

  • A richer understanding of the concepts
  • Group activities, which contribute to student learning
  • Interactions with expert faculty
  • Insight from guest lecturers
  • Exercises not covered in the individual certification exams

The first class will be welcomed to this hybrid learning experience in August 2021. 


4 keys to achieving cost effectiveness of health

Just what does the cost effectiveness of health (CEOH) entail? It includes going beyond just treating patients’ physical needs when they are sick to moving interventions upstream through preventive health initiatives, and addressing social and behavioral health needs, too. It’s about creating a system with a focus on connecting the care system, reducing complexity and creating efficiencies.

The four keys to achieving CEOH are:

  • Shift in traditional care models from reactive to proactive delivery mechanisms
  • Measurement of medical outcomes versus risk with cost analysis
  • Payment reform
  • Revenue streams for primary care models and patient engagement with a focus on wellness and health planning


PHSM degree course descriptions

The following is a summary of courses in the HFMA/Boise State Master in Population and Health Systems Management (PHSM) program:

  • Actuarial Science and Epidemiology in Determining Patient Outcome I: Explores the relationship between epidemiology and actuarial science in the context of dynamic population health. Examines the basics of insurance with analysis dissecting to the patient level to create care plans that mitigate risk and promote best patient outcomes. 
  • Actuarial Science and Epidemiology in Determining Patient Outcome II: Principles of epidemiology and actuarial sciences are further explored. 
  • Management of Population Focused Healthcare: Introduction to the management of multiple aspects of population-focused healthcare. 
  • Principles of Healthcare Business I: Overview of healthcare accounting and finance to strengthen competencies and address financial reports and statements unique to healthcare. Provides a practical overview of risk-sharing arrangements, managed care contracts and profitability ratios. 
  • Principles of Healthcare Business II: Explores the evolution of healthcare service delivery and payment and highlights healthcare transformation, including the shift from volume to value, quality, patient satisfaction, competition on cost and the evolution of the payment system. 
  • Healthcare Finance Mastery: A broad range of essential business and financial skills are explored. Provides an  overview of modern healthcare business dynamics and theories of application. 
  • Health System Business Intelligence: Framework for analyzing data and tools to facilitate decision-making in healthcare organizations. 
  • Healthcare Business Analytics in Revenue: A systematic overview of how to inspect, clean, transform and model data with the goals of highlighting useful information, suggesting conclusions and supporting decision-making within the healthcare revenue cycle. 
  • Revenue Cycle Mastery in Healthcare: An overview of the entire revenue cycle and its influence on the financial outcomes of the healthcare organization is provided. 
  • Project: Execution of a substantial exercise that demonstrates the ability to successfully and independently carry out a professional activity that is similar to what is encountered in the professional workplace. 


About the Author

Todd Nelson

is HFMA’s director of partner relationships, content and professional practice guidance.

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