Healthcare Informatics Program Exceeds Recruitment Expectations

KENNESAW, Ga. (Nov 29, 2017)MSHMI StudentsAlthough less than a year old, Coles College of Business’s innovative Master of Science in Healthcare Management and Informatics program has already met its four-year recruitment goal, says Dr. Sweta Sneha, the program’s director.

When the MSHMI program officially began enrolling students in Fall 2016 for a Spring 2017 start, Sneha’s goal was to have a class size of 35 students within four years. However, with the first cohort of 26 students currently working on their capstone projects, and the second cohort of 38 starting their coursework in the spring, interest in the degree program has exceeded expectations.

“These numbers are really good for the program and have helped show us how much of a need there was in the market for a program like this,” Sneha says.

The MSHMI is an interdisciplinary graduate degree program that integrates information technology, computing, data analytics, and health care delivery processes with leadership and management principles. It provides a robust technology-based curriculum specifically tailored for the nuances of the healthcare industry.

“If you choose to work in healthcare, you quickly learn that it’s not a simple industry,” Sneha says. “There are so many moving parts, stakeholders, and differing laws. If you want to make an impact with informatics and informational efficiency, you can’t do that if you don’t understand the industry, even if you have a strong technology background.”

While Coles College administers the MSHMI program, it is a joint project between Coles, the College of Science and Mathematics, WellStar College of Health and Human Sciences, and the College of Computer Science and Software Engineering. In addition, the University partners with businesses like Piedmont Healthcare, WellStar Health System, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, McKesson, Northside Hospital, and the Harbin Clinic to ensure that students learn the skills desired by the healthcare industry.

The six-semester program attracts a broad range of professionals working in the healthcare field. Students in the first cohort include physicians, nurses, radiologists, and those serving in accounting and operations roles. Most students work at the management level or above.

“Our students are at the midpoint of their careers and are figuring out what their next big move is going to be,” Sneha says. “Our job is to help them move into their next positions.”

Kennesaw State is the only university in Georgia offering a master’s degree in health care informatics. The idea came from a meeting of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce in 2009 discussing the rapid growth of the state’s health information technology sector. With healthcare organizations looking outside the state to fill these positions due to a shortage of homegrown talent, chamber members called upon Georgia’s universities to develop programs to train the state’s workforce for these jobs.

“Kennesaw State University and the Coles College of Business now sit at the forefront of the growing healthcare informatics industry,” says Dr. Kathy Schwaig, dean of Coles College. “Under Dr. Sneha’s leadership, I have no doubt that the MSHMI program will continue the impressive growth seen this first year, and will help make Atlanta the leading provider of healthcare IT professionals in the country.”

- Patrick Harbin