East Carolina University
Academic Program Review
Graduate Health Informatics Certificate Program
Graduate Health Care Administration Certificate Program
Graduate Health Care Management Certificate Program
The Department of Health Services and Information Management
Dr. Xiaoming Zeng, Professor and Chair, Health Care Management Program Director
Dr. Pat Royal, Associate Professor and Health Services Administration Program Director
Dr. Robert R Campbell, Associate Professor and Health Informatics Program Director
Three graduate certificate programs -- Health Care Administration (HCA), Health Care Management (HCM)
and Health Informatics – from the Department of Health Services and Information Management (HSIM)
are included in this self-study for Academic Program Review. HCM is an optional certificate for students
enrolled in the MBA program within the College of Business. HCA and HI are stand-alone certificate
programs housed in HSIM. The HCA and HCM programs have similar courses in their curricula.
The goal of the HI certificate program is to equip students with the knowledge and skills needed for
employment and success in the emerging field of health informatics. The program is designed for health
care workers having no previous informatics training and for information technology workers having no
previous health care experience, seeking employment in health care as health informaticians.
The goal of the HCA Certificate program is to increase skill sets and position students for advancement
within management of a health care facility.
The goal of the HCM Certificate/MBA program is to prepare students for careers as managers in a variety
of health care organizations. As they progress through the program, students will acquire skills related to
the financial, legal, and logistical operation of a health care facility.
As the emphasis in healthcare continues to focus on population health, coordinated care, value-based
care, lean thinking, and patient-centered care, practical knowledge of health care management and
health informatics will position students for successful careers in healthcare. The training of the current
workforce will contribute to the regional transformation of Eastern North Carolina. Furthermore, the
three certificate programs are directly aligned with five guiding principles found in ECU’s 2014 Strategic
Plan: increasing opportunity, producing graduates ready to work and serve, developing leaders,
improving health, and keeping the commitment to diversity and inclusiveness. The HI and HCM programs
are unique in a sense that they are tied to a graduate degree program. HI graduates could transfer all
courses into MS HIIM program and HCM students could use the courses in the certificate as their
electives in the MBA program. All three certificate programs are offered in both face-to-face and online
formats; students potentially are able to complete the programs in a year; and job prospects for
graduates of each program continue on an upward trend.
From 2009 to 2015, enrollment in all three-certificate programs has followed an upward trend (Table 1).
TABLE 1 CERTIFICATE PROGRAM ENROLLMENT
2008 2009 2015
Health Informatics 0 9 27
Health Care Administration 3 2 27
Health Care Management 21 15 33
Because many of the students enrolled in the three programs are working professionals, the majority of
them favor the distance education format, which provides them with the flexibility they need to fit their
educational needs into their busy lifestyles. Of the three programs, the HI and HCA certificates displayed
the most diversity, with 41% (HI-spring 2015) and 47.5% (HCA-spring 2015) of the enrolled students
indicating minority status. The majority of the HCM students (82% -spring 2015) identified themselves as
Caucasians. All three programs showed a preference for in-state female students, which is somewhat of
an outlier due to the fact that health informatics, is considered a technical field populated by a male
workforce. The number of graduates in all three programs has increased over the last seven years as is
evidenced below in Table 2.
TABLE 2. CONFERRED CERTIFICATES IN HI, HCA, AND HCM
2008 - 2009 2014 - 2015
Health Informatics 0 8
Health Care Administration 0 22
Health Care Management 13 16
Estimates for two-year completion rates hold at 31% for the HI program, and 51% for the HCA program.
Although the department does not track job placement data for the graduates of the three certificate
programs, data available from NCTower demonstrate that the average salary of HCA/HCM certificate
program graduates is potentially comparable to the average salary of graduates from the ECU MBA
To increase student success, the department has taken the following steps:
1. Adjusted course sequence so students can complete the certificates within a one-year period.
2. Advisors from the MBA program are now counseling students in the HCM program.
3. An HI student completed an optional internship at the NC Hospital Association. The department
facilitated this internship opportunity in an effort to enhance the student’s employment
opportunities upon completion of the certificate program. The student is now working full-time
at Allscripts, a health care information technology company based in Raleigh.
4. Use Health Information Technology simulations to enhance experiential learning.
In the future, the department will consider implementing the following actions to increase student
1. Increase the GPA admission requirement for the HI and HCA certificates to 2.75.
2. Add elective courses to the HI curriculum.
3. Report HI outcomes at the annual MS HIIM advisory meeting.
4. Add electives to the HCA curriculum if the department’s Master in Health Administration program
is approved and established.
5. Work with IPAR to develop surveys to track student satisfaction and employment.
6. Meet regularly with MBA advisors to discuss student advising issues.
7. Request additional faculty line(s) to cover the increased teaching and advising load.
8. Include tuition surcharge to fund a position to coordinate advising in several graduate programs.
Curriculum and Learning Outcomes
All three certificate programs have short curricula (12-15 s.h.), with students matriculating on a rolling
basis and having the option to complete their plan of studies in one year by taking two classes per
semester. In the HI program, HIMA 6060 is a co-requisite for other courses in the curriculum.
Furthermore, if a student does not have educational or professional experience in the health care field,
they will be required to take COHE 6000, which is also a co-requisite in the HCA program.
Overall, positive learning outcomes are evidenced by students in all three-certificate programs. However,
there were some weaknesses identified: primarily in students who struggled completing two writing
assignments, and students who experienced problems completing several database modeling exercises.
To ameliorate these programs, rubrics were created to measure students’ learning outcomes, instructors
received training on how to teach students to write well, and more exercises were built into course
instructional sequences in an effort to improve student-learning outcomes. Over the past year, learning
outcomes have improved in the areas of student writing and database modeling, with course instructors
continuing to monitor student outcomes in an effort to engender greater levels of achievement.
The department’s action plan for improving the certificate programs curriculum and pedagogy are as
1. Include more electives in program course offerings to provide more options to the students.
2. Continue to monitor the results from the student learning outcomes assessment plans to address
3. To improve students’ overall educational experience and satisfaction, a social media page will be
created to engage all students enrolled in or who have graduated from each of the three
4. Invite students to attend graduation and meet with faculty.
5. Procure resources to hire a coordinator to advise students enrolled in the department’s
certificate and degree programs.
6. Work with IPAR to implement surveys to track student, graduate and employee satisfaction rates.
Full-time faculty in the department are certified to teach in their area of specialization, which, in this case,
is either health informatics or health services administration. Given current faculty resources, along with
the support of adjunct faculty, resources are enough to deliver the curriculum. Full-time faculty are
charged with teaching between six and nine sections per year. In an ideal situation, the addition of