Healthcare and Higher Education

When it comes to financial implications, healthcare and higher education are alike in many ways. Both grapple with skyrocketing prices, decreasing public funding and ire from consumers who find their pocketbooks are stretched thinner and thinner.

Emme Deland, Senior Vice President for Strategy at New York-Presbyterian Hospital said the links are becoming apparent.

“I was thrilled to find that you’re being asked the question ‘Is College worth it?’ It’s the same question that’s being asked of healthcare: What’s the value that we’re actually delivering?”

Deland went on to cite her own personal experience of college finances in comparison to where things are now. According to Deland, she received her M.B.A. from Columbia University in the late 1970s and the investment was about $4,000 yearly. She compared that to the $60,000 a year her daughter is currently on the hook for at a business college. The costs aren’t comparable.

According to statistics from Deland’s strategy office, the price of tuition and fees grew more than 550% from 1985 to 2011, making the 350% rise in the price of healthcare cost seem paltry during that time period.

Deland pointed to gross healthcare over-spending as the main culprit of healthcare charges skyrocketing, estimating approximately $750 billion in wasted funds annually.

Doing more with less

Education and healthcare have more in common than rising costs. Both industries are learning how to survive and effectively function with less public money at their disposals.

State appropriations in the public higher education realm are on the decline and the Affordable Care Act equates to less federal money available for hospitals and various healthcare systems.

Hospitals and health systems are also merging and buying each other up with more and more frequency. According to Deland, in recent years New York City went from having about 75 independent hospitals to just six hospital systems today.

Mergers in higher education are happening on a smaller scale, but higher learning institutions still must find more ways to work together in cost-cutting efforts.

The challenges are daunting, but in order to thrive in ever-changing environments, hospitals and universities have to adapt. They have to cut costs where they can and find ways to keep the lights on. They also have to collaborate with each other more to help make their services accessible to a consuming audience that needs what they offer.

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