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Health Care Primer

Uncomplicating the complicated

Why is health care so complicated? It doesn’t matter where you find yourself in the health care system; this question is on everyone’s mind. However, it can be answered by breaking down the complex system into easily digestible components. With our experts at St. Thomas, we invite you to engage in understanding the big picture of health care, and see where there are opportunities for you to succeed as a professional.

The Health Care Primer is designed to be engaging and informative for those who seek an orientation to the health care industry. Whether you are new, in-transition or looking for support in your continued learning, this program will provide you with an overview of the American health care system.

Get an edge on understanding the model of health care in America so that you will be able to:

  • Describe the different organizational structures of the health care delivery system and the corresponding financing relationships.
  • Identify the complex system relationships that exist between hospitals, physicians, payer systems, suppliers, government entities and consumers.
  • Blend critical thinking with systems dynamics to effectively develop and defend proposals for health system improvements and a strategy for their implementation.


Topics Covered

Today’s Model of Health Care Meets the Future – Be a Leader in Understanding the Health Care System

The Health Care Primer takes you through four in-class learning modules over the course of one day to give you a well-rounded educational experience. You will leave the classroom with an increased ability to be a more informed decision maker, contributor, and influencer in your day-to-day interactions within a health care-focused organization.  

Module 1: Overview – The Business of Health Care

There are a mix of private sector and government stakeholders in the American health care system. To navigate the industry successfully, start by developing insight into how regulations, consumerism and costs all work together. The first session of this program addresses the complexities through discussion-based learning, giving you a deeper understanding of:

  • Pros and Cons of the U.S. Health care System
  • Systems Components
  • Health Policy: History and Relationship to Reform Proposals
  • Markets
  • Government Systems
  • Emerging Trends and Solutions for the Future

Module 2: Financing – Where does the money come from—and who gets it?

Regardless of your role in health care, cost and payments are at the core of how the system operates and how you as a consumer interacts within it. This session walks you through the financial components of health care: health plans, systems financing, payment methods and insurance issues as related to government, employers and individuals. Through active learning, you will solidify your ability to engage in dialogue about:

  • Organizational Structures (Hospitals, Clinics, Health Plans, Supply Chain)
  • Health Insurance
    • Underwriting
    • Moral hazard protections
    • Payers
    • Managed Care
    • Payment Systems
      • Fee for Service
      • Capitation
      • Quality Incentives
      • Costs

Module 3: Patients and Populations – How can I effectively engage?

A base understanding of the business and finances of health care only takes you so far. Health care at its core focuses on people. Now more than ever, our model is turning to focus on helping people live the healthiest lives possible. This module prepares you to be in a better position to analyze current trends and the future of health care of the following related topics:

  • Population health
  • Chronic disease management
  • Wellness
  • Patient engagement
  • Culture
    • Health care delivery culture
    • Cultural communities

Module 4: Team Simulation: Creating a major improvement in a health care system

To be an effective contributor or leader within health care, it is essential to recognize the various stakeholders who will have an impact on your work—or who will be impacted by your work. For this reason, a simulation is embedded into the program to inspire critical and innovative thinking around real life scenarios. Use the simulation experience to increase your personal effectiveness in health care. The experience will translate well, whether you are working across teams or the entire system. Simulation elements include:

  • Working through a case study to develop a major improvement in the health care system
  • Real-time discussion with your peers in the classroom who provide a stakeholders lens
  • Developing a final action plan to present to your classmates

Is This For Me?

Are you new to health care or looking to transition to the industry?

The Health Care Primer is a program well suited for:

  • New employees of health care companies
  • Employees of companies that are suppliers to the health care system
  • Individuals who are evaluating changing careers to health care

Professionals at any level in their career are welcome to attend. If your goal is to get a solid foundation of the American health care system, then this program is right for you.

Just as it is important to understand what this program includes (see the topics section), it is important to note what The Health Care Primer does not cover. If you are looking for a certificate that balances business acumen topics (marketing management, strategic planning, ethical decision making, human resource management, etc.) with a few core health care-focused sessions (health policy, finance and funding in U.S. health care system, etc.), then consider our  program.


Learn from our top-notch faculty with industry experience

Dan McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin, MHA, is the director of the Center for Health and Medical Affairs at the University of St. Thomas and the former director of the Center for Business Excellence (now UST Executive Education). He is active in teaching, research, and speaking at the university, with a special emphasis on health care operations and policy.  He is the author of a leading graduate textbook, Healthcare Operations Management.

He helped establish and direct the National Institute of Health Policy at St. Thomas. From 1984 to 1992 he was the administrator and CEO of Hennepin County Medical Center, the level 1 trauma center in Minneapolis.   He served as chair of the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems and served on President Clinton's task force on health care reform in 1993. He holds degrees in electrical engineering and health care administration from the University of Minnesota.

Joe White, Clinical Faculty, Opus College of Business

Joe White

Joseph White recently retired as a partner at CliftonLarsonAllen, a top 10 national certified public accounting and consulting firm to launch his "encore career" as a full-time, clinical faculty member at St. Thomas.

White graduated from the University of Minnesota and received his bachelor's degree with an emphasis in accounting in 1982 and his master's degree in business administration from the University of St. Thomas Executive MBA program in 2001. He is a licensed CPA and is a member of American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Minnesota Society of Certified Public Accountants and the Health Care Financial Management Association. 

‌‌‌Geoff Kaufmann, University of St. Thomnas, adjunct instructor

Geoff Kaufmann

Geoff Kaufmann is the Vice President of Patient Services for the American Red Cross. He previously held senior-level strategic planning and operational positions with Lakeview Health, the Center for Diagnostic Imaging, Arrizant Healthcare, Walker Methodist Inc., Park Nicollet Health, the University of Minnesota Hospital & Clinic, and Hamilton KSA. Mr. Kaufmann has 38+ years of experience in operations, business development, strategic planning, marketing, and physician relations.

Geoff speaks frequently at national health care symposiums, serves on several health related for-profit and nonprofit boards, and has published his works through the American Hospital Association. He graduated with biology and chemistry majors from St. Olaf College and received an MA in Health Care Management from the University of Chicago.

Your Investment

Invest in your career - Gain a strong ROI

Price: $495
.7 CEUs

Why the Health Care Primer?

Upon completion of this program, you’ll do your Monday smarter with:

  • A fresh lens to move projects and initiatives forward in a health care organization
  • Tools to identify the complex system relationships that exist between hospitals, physicians, payer systems, suppliers, government agencies, and consumers
  • Language and context for use in your everyday professional interactions related to the organizational structures of the health care delivery system and its financing
  • An ability to develop and defend health system improvement proposals and strategies for their implementation
  • A new network of peers and professionals to call on for conversation and dialogue when running into challenges or barriers in your professional work within a health care organization

Additional Program Details:

  • Cost includes tuition, learning materials and refreshments.
  • Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are non-credit educational experiences; one CEU is equivalent to 10 contact hours of study.
  • Program sessions are held on the downtown Minneapolis campus. Parking is available within one block.
  • There are no prerequisites for this program.

Why St. Thomas Executive Education?

At St. Thomas Executive Education you will:

  • Gain practical tools from experienced faculty
  • Learn current, real-world skills you can apply on Monday (and every day)
  • Network with other professionals working in business
  • Have a personalized experience from program exploration to successful completion

All of this leads to a smart, practical and personalized experience to gain confidence and excel in your career. With over 30 open enrollment programs, we can help you dive into a specific topic area, understand business terminology and further develop your leadership and management skills.