May 12, 2021

What is Healthcare Management?

healthcare management

An individual who wants to play an important role in healthcare without having patient contact may be interested in learning what healthcare management has to offer. A person does not need to be in the operating room, dispensing medication or providing direct care to patients to be a vital part of the medical industry. Without a good healthcare management system, a healthcare facility would not be able to effectively care for patients, keep a good staff or make a profit. Here is valuable information about healthcare management.

What is Healthcare Management?

Before the advent of rapidly-advancing medical technology, doctors didn’t have as much of a need for healthcare managers. However, the near-continuous development of medical technology (including changes in healthcare data systems) and regular changes in laws and regulations surrounding healthcare mean that hospitals and other medical centers need experts in these areas to ensure everything runs as it should.

Healthcare management is exactly what the name implies. It’s the overall management of a healthcare facility, such as a clinic or hospital. A healthcare manager is in charge of ensuring a healthcare facility is running as it should in terms of budget, the goals of the facility’s practitioners and the needs of the community. A person in charge of healthcare management oversees the day-to-day operations of the facility.

This individual also acts as a spokesperson when providing information to the media. The person in charge of healthcare management also collaborates with medical staff leaders on issues such as medical equipment, department budgets, planning ways to ensure the facility meets their goals and maintaining a good relationship with doctors, nurses, and all department heads. The healthcare manager also makes decisions about performance evaluations, staff expectations, budgeting, social media updates, and billing.

You might imagine hospital managers when you think of careers in healthcare management. However, these jobs exist at every level. For people who prefer a smaller operation, a job as an office manager may be right. Similarly, those with degrees in healthcare management also have the option of working as home health agency managers.

These managers have a variety of responsibilities. Like managers in just about every field, they will handle the scheduling of care workers like nurses and CNAs. They also will make sure patients receive quality care. In order to do this, they may design patient care surveys and address any patient complaints that arise.

“Healthcare management” is an umbrella term that covers a wide variety of job titles. Clinical directors, healthcare supervisors, health coordinators, and nursing home facilitators often have degrees in healthcare management. And while you may think of healthcare managers as people who work at hospitals or in private practice, they may also work at colleges or universities, public health centers, urgent care clinics, insurance companies, or pharmaceutical companies.

There are also more specialized areas of healthcare management that those with healthcare management degrees may want to look into. A great example is health information management. Nearly every type of healthcare practice — from hospitals to urgent care centers to general practitioner’s offices — maintains a database of patient health information. These databases are maintained by a variety of professionals. IT specialists design the databases themselves, doctors and other employees input health information, and medical billing and coding specialists make sure that procedures are properly coded for insurance purposes.

Health facilities need someone to look at the big picture and make sure that the databases are functioning as a whole. They may oversee each individual aspect of the database. For instance, a health information manager will work with cybersecurity analysts to make sure the database is secure enough to protect patient information from leaks. They also may work with doctors and nurses to optimize documentation of procedures and clinic visits. And in order to make sure databases perform optimally, they regularly assess the data collection and documentation process.

Ultimately, healthcare management professionals work to oversee and coordinate every aspect of healthcare. Whether it’s overseeing hospital operations or coordinating the happenings in a small private practice, these managers ensure that healthcare facilities operate smoothly for everyone involved.

Healthcare Management vs. Healthcare Administration

what is healthcare management

The terms healthcare management and healthcare administration are often mistakenly used interchangeably, and many people believe they are the same thing. They are two different things. Healthcare management is in charge of the entire healthcare organization while healthcare administration takes care of the staff and employees. The healthcare administrator may be in charge of hiring staff for a specific department, but it’s the healthcare manager who may determine if another employee should be hired. In short, healthcare managers deal mostly with the business side of healthcare organizations.

A healthcare administrator will determine the best ways to help staff be more efficient at their jobs and will understand the type of treatment the facility will provide to patients. The healthcare manager is the one who decides on the treatment, number of staff and how each department should be run. Healthcare managers focus on the big-picture needs and direction of a hospital or other medical setting, while administrators focus largely on working with the staff. In hospitals, healthcare managers typically oversee hospital-wide matters, and administrators oversee individual departments.

Though healthcare managers and healthcare administrators have different duties, they often work together, especially when implementing major changes in policy or technology. In smaller settings (like private practices), one person may fulfill the roles of both administrator and manager.

How to Become a Healthcare Manager

The first step toward becoming a healthcare manager is to earn a bachelor’s degree in healthcare management. When choosing a school, students should make sure the degree program is accredited. This specific degree program is important because it incorporates knowledge from both the healthcare and business fields. Students will learn to manage a business, but they’ll also learn about healthcare terminology, hospital organization, and the laws surrounding healthcare and health information. In order to be successful, a healthcare manager needs to be well-versed in both fields. Occasionally, a person may be hired as a healthcare manager if they have a bachelor’s degree in a related field like business or nursing.

Though it’s possible to get into this field with a bachelor’s degree, many hospitals and larger organizations look to hire people who have a master’s degree in the field. Smaller organizations (like clinics or small private practices) may be more likely to hire a candidate with a bachelor’s degree, and larger organizations may hire a person with a bachelor’s degree in a more junior role. Sometimes, people who want to advance in the field find it helpful to gain some work experience after their bachelor’s degree, while others prefer to earn both a bachelor’s and a master’s before applying for jobs.

For those looking for a master’s degree, a master’s in healthcare management is a common choice. The individual may also choose a master’s degree in public administration or business with a concentration in health services management or healthcare management. With a master’s degree, an individual stands a better chance of getting a job in healthcare management at a more senior level.

Experience as a healthcare professional isn’t required to get a job as a healthcare manager, but it may be advantageous. If someone has worked as a doctor or nurse, they have unique insight into the people they will be managing. Doctors and nurses who decide they want to make a shift to management will typically choose to pursue a master’s degree in healthcare management or healthcare administration. These candidates may have an advantage because they have seen firsthand how healthcare professionals and managers work together. If a doctor wants to start and manage their own private practice, they sometimes choose to pursue an MBA in order to gain the business knowledge to be successful.

Most healthcare management jobs do not require any sort of certification, but having special certifications may make applicants stand out to hiring organizations. For example, the American Health Information Management Association offers certification in management of specialized health information. For applicants interested in medical office management, a certification from the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management may be beneficial.

Skills Needed to Be a Successful Healthcare Manager

what is a healthcare manager

Having the right degree is essential to getting a job in healthcare management. However, it’s a good idea for degree candidates to also cultivate some of the skills necessary to apply their knowledge.

Decision making and good judgment is one of the most necessary skills for a candidate to have. Healthcare managers need to make regular decisions in the course of the workday, and they will need to carefully weigh options before making the best choice for the institution they manage. In a similar vein, managers need to be both analytical and detail-oriented. Healthcare managers need to have a strong working knowledge of regulations that apply to hospitals, nursing homes, and doctor’s offices, and they need to be able to make sure they consistently operate within those regulations. And since they usually oversee scheduling, billing, and data collection, extreme attention to detail is a must.

The job duties of a healthcare manager can look very different from one day to the next — the manager may go from finalizing budget decisions on Monday to evaluating a new health information system on Tuesday. In order to succeed, managers need to be highly adaptable, and they’ll need to be able to juggle concurrent tasks and deadlines.

Successful healthcare managers will also have strong interpersonal skills. Communication is vital — managers will regularly need to inform doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals of current policies and procedures. In a healthcare situation, clear communication is especially important. If patients are to receive the best care possible, doctors, nurses, and staff members need to clearly understand organizational policies and procedures. Managers also need to be able to listen to concerns from staff members and patients in order to determine whether any changes to current policies need to be made.

In order to fully understand and oversee operations, a healthcare manager will need to stay informed about advancements in healthcare technology. This is especially important when it comes to electronic health record systems. Managers will need to be able to assess whether record systems are functioning optimally, and they will need to implement new systems if a change is needed. Creative problem solving is must as well — when managing an entire hospital or practice, issues are bound to arise, and they need to be resolved quickly and in a way that benefits patients and employees alike.

Career Outlook for Healthcare Managers

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment of healthcare occupations overall should see a growth of 18 percent during the 2016-2026 decade. By 2026, there should be about 2.4 million new healthcare jobs. Medical and health services managers are expected to see a growth of 20 percent. Those working as healthcare managers should see excellent career opportunities. For those with an MBA with a healthcare focus, the outlook is especially good. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council, healthcare is in the top three industries hiring candidates with MBAs.

Wages for healthcare management professionals can vary by many factors, including experience, training, location and even employer. It can also depend on which agency is reporting the wages. The BLS reports that medical and health services managers earned an average annual income of $98,350 with the wages ranging from $58,350 to $176,130as of May 2017. According to a July 2018 wage report by PayScale, healthcare managers earned an average annual salary of $60,096 with salaries ranging from $32,479 to $94,855.

How much healthcare managers make depends largely on where they are employed. Being a manager for a government organization or major hospital tends to pay more since these managers have much more to oversee than managers at smaller institutions. Managers at residential facilities like nursing homes or inpatient rehabilitation facilities tend to make less. For many, healthcare management (as well as other jobs in the healthcare industry) are attractive choices because healthcare is always in demand, even in uncertain economic times.

When most people think of important jobs in healthcare, they imagine doctors and nurses. And while these jobs are undoubtedly important, they need to be supported by competent healthcare management in order to provide the best patient care possible. Working in healthcare can be very rewarding and satisfying, especially when a person is playing a part in helping others feel better. Healthcare management may not be directly related to patient care, but the patient care is only as efficient as the facility’s healthcare management team.

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