Why study health policy and management?

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Young male and female professionals looking at paperwork.

With the emergence of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the public has seen an uptick in visible public health policy. In many nations, including the United States, governing bodies and public health officials have released statements, guidelines, and public health training to help people prevent the spread of the virus. One example includes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its guidelines on COVID-19. This guidance includes the symptoms, steps to prevent infection, what to do when someone’s ill, and more.

This is just one example, and doesn’t begin to show the true depth of public health policy and management. As the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) pointed out, health policy and management is a considerably wide, multidisciplinary field that involves not only the health practices of the public, but the cost and delivery of services in hospitals and other health care institutions as well.

The creation, deployment, and enforcement of public health policies ― both on a public scale as well as those related to individual health care facilities ― are imperative for guiding the delivery of health services, while also helping to ensure a safe and healthy environment for the public. And in the current global environment where a new virus can spread rapidly, the professionals in charge of helping to create these policies and support health services play an incredibly important role.

What is public health policy and management?

As noted above, health policy and management involves not only the public health policies that officials and governing bodies introduce to improve the health of the population, but also the policies that health care institutions use to standardize their delivery and cost of care services. The purpose of many health policies is to help ensure that the public has access to health care and other resources, and can use them to support their longevity and quality of life.

The World Health Organization (WHO) explained that health policy can include the actions undertaken by governing bodies and health institution managers, as well as the conditions, decisions, and plans that lead to these actions as well, and which support a particular health-centered goal.

“An explicit health policy can achieve several things: it defines a vision for the future which in turn helps to establish targets and points of reference for the short and medium term,” WHO stated. “It outlines priorities and the expected roles of different groups; and it builds consensus and informs people.”

Often, the medical and health service manager, also known as a health care administrator or executive, handles the creation and management of these health care facility policies. It is the responsibility of these administrators to oversee the efficiency and delivery of health care services, and to create policies that support these processes.

Improving population health

Public health policy and management is important for a few key reasons:

  • Within health care facilities, policies ensure that the practices of staff members align with current laws and industry regulations. This helps standardize the level of care provided at institutions across the country and the world.
  • Policies put in place by health care administrators in hospitals and other facilities also help guide and direct the cost and delivery of health care services. This guidance of cost and services also supports availability for the public, and helps prevent barriers to health care accessibility.
  • For the public, policies can help in numerous different ways, including to help prevent the spread of infections or diseases, provide education for healthier choices and practices, ensure health safety, and improve the overall quality of life for the public.

“Good health results not only from proper medical care but also from efforts to craft and implement public policies and programs to protect and improve the health of all people,” a publication from the National Council of State Legislatures explained. “Legislators have policy options at their disposal that can promote health behaviors and change conditions ― social, economic, and environmental ― to improve the health of the entire population.”

A stethoscope sitting on top of a clipboard with medical forms and paperwork.

Careers in health policy and management

Health policy and management is a highly varied area, and can extend through industries like government, health care, and beyond.

Currently, there are several different career opportunities for those with an interest in health policy and management, and many have highly beneficial job outlooks:

  • The medical health and service manager role offers a median wage of $99,730, and boasts an 18% job growth outlook from 2018 to 2028, much faster than average for the average occupation.
  • The health policy lobbyist role is a government-centered position that involves advocating for public health resources and policies. This role can offer a median annual wage of annually, and has a faster-than-average job growth outlook of 11% from 2018 to 2028.
  • The public health outreach manager role, also known as a public health or community service manager, offers a median annual wage of $65,320. It has a job growth outlook of 13% from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average.

The area of public health policy management is critical, not only in government and health care industry sectors, but for the general population as well. These professionals help institute policies that ensure accessibility to health care services, and which help educate the public and improve health conditions.

One of the first steps toward careers in this area is to gain skill and experience through an online Master of Public Health, with a concentration in health policy and management. To find out more, check out our website and connect with us at Regis College today.


Recommended Readings:

Learn More About a Career as an Epidemiologist

What Can You Do with an MPH?



Regis College Online Master of Public Health – MPH Health Policy and Management Concentration

Regis College Online Master of Public Health – Online Master of Public Heath (MPH)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Prevention of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Association of Schools and Programs for Public Health – Health Policy and Management

World Health Organization – Health policy

World Health Organization – About

National Conference of State Legislatures – Public Health and Public Health Policy | State Health Policies

Bureau of Labor Statistics – Medical and Health Services Managers

BLS – Health Educators

BLS – Social and Community Service Managers