Author Q&A: Health System Management and Leadership

Health System Management and Leadership for Physical and Occupational Therapists provides a guide to essential topics such as health legislation; current issues in health care; professionalism; proposal and grant writing; business administration; quality assurance; insurance and billing; and managing therapy practice in a variety of care settings. Written by a team of physical and occupational therapy experts, this resource ensures that your academic program meets accreditation standards and curriculum needs, and helps students become well-informed and knowledgeable physical and occupational therapy professionals.

Q: What skills do you think will be most important for students to learn in health system management and leadership for their healthcare careers? 

A: In healthcare management and leadership, students require a comprehensive skill set that balances organizational competence with patient-centered care. While proficiency in organizational dynamics, finances, and administration is essential, effective communication, collaboration, ethical integrity, adaptability, and resilience are equally vital. Clear communication builds trust and enhances outcomes, while collaboration ensures holistic patient care. Upholding ethical standards safeguards patient welfare and organizational reputation. Furthermore, adaptability and resilience are critical for navigating health care’s dynamic landscape and empowering students to lead positive change. By honing these skills, students not only pave the way for successful healthcare careers but also foster a culture of excellence, compassion, and innovation within the industry.

Q: What do you hope faculty and students take away from your title?

A: We hope faculty and students take away a comprehensive understanding of the multifaceted nature of physical and occupational therapy practice within the broader healthcare context. By exploring topics ranging from healthcare systems and policy to professional conduct, healthcare management, entrepreneurship, and various healthcare settings, we aim to equip readers with the knowledge and skills necessary for success in their careers. Specifically, we hope faculty and students gain insight into the complexities of the United States healthcare system; develop proficiency in ethical decision-making, communication, collaboration, and leadership; and acquire practical knowledge applicable to diverse healthcare settings. Ultimately, we aspire for this textbook to inspire a commitment to excellence, compassion, and innovation in delivering physical and occupational therapy services, enhancing patient outcomes, and advancing the field.

Q: What is unique about this title?

A: The uniqueness of our book title, Health System Management and Leadership for Physical and Occupational Therapists, lies in its explicit focus on addressing the specific needs and challenges faced by physical and occupational therapists within healthcare management and leadership. While numerous resources are available on one of these topics — general healthcare management and leadership — this text is tailored to provide a wide-ranging resource specifically to physical and occupational therapists’ unique perspectives, roles, and responsibilities in navigating the complexities of healthcare systems. Thus, it recognizes the vital role that physical and occupational therapists play in delivering high-quality patient care and acknowledges the increasing importance of leadership and management skills in optimizing healthcare outcomes.

Q: Who will benefit from this title?

A: This textbook is a valuable resource for physical and occupational therapists at various stages of their careers, including students, practitioners, and those interested in expanding their roles into healthcare management or entrepreneurship. It provides a comprehensive foundation covering clinical and non-clinical aspects essential for effective practice and professional growth in these fields. Beginning in Part I: Healthcare Systems and Policy, physical and occupational therapists will gain a broader understanding of the healthcare landscape in the United States, including its systems, legislation, policies, and current issues. Part II: Professional Conduct provides therapists with critical information regarding professional conduct, ethics, and communication skills with clients and other healthcare providers. This section also covers topics such as professionalism, diversity, equity, inclusion, and leadership, which are essential for effective practice. Part III: Healthcare Management and Entrepreneurship provides fundamental knowledge and skills required for managing healthcare services and running a business in the field. In addition, this section will help those interested in or transitioning into roles involving healthcare management, administration, quality assurance, and entrepreneurship. Lastly, Part IV: Healthcare Settings guides therapists working or aspiring to work in various healthcare settings, including outpatient, acute care, post-acute care, schools, special education, mental health, and wellness programs. This section delves into the unique considerations, challenges, and practices associated with each setting, along with care coordination and case management.

Q: How have you seen this field change over the years?

A: Over the years, we’ve witnessed a significant evolution in physical and occupational therapy, marked by notable shifts towards a more holistic, data-driven, and collaborative approach to care. One of the most striking transformations has been integrating emerging technologies and data analytics into therapy practices. Advanced tools such as wearable sensors, virtual reality, and telehealth platforms have revolutionized assessment, treatment, and monitoring processes, enabling therapists to deliver more personalized and effective interventions. Moreover, data-driven insights enhance clinical decision-making, identify trends, predict outcomes, and optimize resource allocation, improving patient outcomes and operational efficiencies.

In addition, contemporary physical and occupational therapy practice strongly emphasizes community engagement, prevention, and promoting overall health and wellness. Therapists increasingly recognize the importance of addressing social determinants of health, advocating for policies that support healthy lifestyles, and collaborating with community organizations to create supportive environments for individuals with disabilities or chronic conditions. By extending their reach beyond traditional clinical settings, therapists can empower individuals to manage their health and wellbeing proactively, thereby reducing the burden of chronic disease and enhancing their quality of life.

Furthermore, there has been a notable shift towards interdisciplinary collaboration within physical and occupational therapy. Recognizing the interconnected nature of health and the complex needs of patients, therapists are working closely with other healthcare professionals to provide comprehensive, coordinated care. This collaborative approach ensures that patients receive integrated services tailored to their unique needs and fosters a culture of shared learning, innovation, and continuous improvement.

Q: What advice would you give faculty teaching in this field?

A: Faculty teaching physical and occupational therapy students should emphasize the practical relevance of the curriculum, highlighting how the skills and knowledge imparted directly contribute to improving patient outcomes and streamlining healthcare delivery. They should cultivate critical thinking, problem-solving abilities, and a commitment to lifelong learning, providing students with the tools and mindset needed to effectively navigate the evolving healthcare landscape. Moreover, fostering collaboration and interprofessional teamwork is essential as students learn to work effectively with professionals from diverse disciplines to deliver comprehensive, patient-centered care. By leading by example with professionalism, integrity, and empathy, faculty can inspire students to become skilled, compassionate practitioners ready to make meaningful contributions to the field and positively impact the lives of their patients.