Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield will give $1.98 million to the University of Arkansas to help establish a new master’s degree program in healthcare business analytics.
The Sam M. Walton College of Business, in partnership with Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield and the College of Education and Health Professions, recently announced the creation of the Robert L. Shoptaw Master of Healthcare Business Analytics Program.
“This degree will help professionals in the business and healthcare industries transform massive amounts of data into smart, analytical decisions,” said Matt Waller, dean of Walton College.
Kate Mamiseishvili, interim dean of the College of Education and Health Professions, said the program will leverage “the expertise of faculty” from both UA colleges.
Shoptaw was CEO of Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield from 1994 until he retired in 2008.
“Arkansas Blue Cross is pleased to honor the leadership and legacy of Bob Shoptaw by supporting Walton College in the establishment of the Master of Healthcare Business Analytics Program,” said Curtis Barnett, president and CEO of Arkansas Blue Cross. “There is a growing need for highly skilled healthcare data analysts who can turn information into insights that allow providers, payors and researchers to develop initiatives that improve patient outcomes, enhance care management and promote a whole person approach to care that addresses a patient’s physical health, behavioral health and social needs all together.”
Jerra Toms, director of marketing and communications at Walton College, said the funding will support new faculty and staff, faculty development, recruiting and advertisement, data support and events.
Paul Cronan, information systems professor at Walton College, is the degree program director and is seeking three to four new faculty and one administrative staff for the program slated to start in fall 2023. He said it’s geared toward working professionals and would be completed over five semesters, including Saturday in-person classes once a month and online work. The goal is to have about 30 students per year.