Healthcare administrators come in all sizes from clinical to administrative they run the business of healthcare
Healthcare administrators, Medical and Health Services Managers, also referred to as health care executives or health care administrators, plan, direct, coordinate, and supervise the delivery of health care. These workers are either specialists in charge of a specific clinical department or generalists who manage an entire facility or system.
The structure and financing of
health care are changing rapidly. Future medical and health services managers
must be prepared to deal with the integration of health care delivery systems,
technological innovations, an increasingly complex regulatory environment,
restructuring of work, and an increased focus on preventive care. They will be
called on to improve efficiency in health care facilities and the quality of
the care provided. The healthcare administrator job description is constantly
evolving to adapt to a rapidly changing environment.
Large facilities usually have several assistant administrators who aid the top administrator and handle daily decisions. Assistant administrators direct activities in clinical areas such as nursing, surgery, therapy, medical records, or health information.
In smaller facilities, top administrators handle more of the details of daily operations. For example, many nursing home administrators manage personnel, finances, facility operations, and admissions while also providing resident care.
Clinical managers have training or experience in a specific clinical area and, accordingly, have more specific responsibilities than do generalists. For example, directors of physical therapy are experienced physical therapists, and most health information and medical record administrators have a bachelor’s degree in health information or medical record administration. Clinical managers establish and implement policies, objectives, and procedures for their departments; evaluate personnel and work quality; develop reports and budgets; and coordinate activities with other managers.
Health information managers are responsible for the maintenance and security of all patient records. Recent regulations enacted by the Federal Government require that all health care providers maintain electronic patient records and that these records be secure. As a result, health information managers must keep up with current computer and software technology and with legislative requirements. In addition, as patient data become more frequently used for quality management and in medical research, health information managers ensure that databases are complete, accurate, and available only to authorized personnel.
In group medical practices, managers work closely with physicians. Whereas an office manager might handle business affairs in small medical groups, leaving policy decisions to the physicians themselves, larger groups usually employ a full-time administrator to help formulate business strategies and coordinate day-to-day business.
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A small group of 10 to 15 physicians might employ 1 administrator to oversee personnel matters, billing and collection, budgeting, planning, equipment outlays, and patient flow. A large practice of 40 to 50 physicians might have a chief administrator and several assistants, each responsible for different areas.
Medical and health services managers in managed care settings perform functions similar to those of their counterparts in large group practices, except that they could have larger staffs to manage. In addition, they might do more community outreach and preventive care than do managers of a group practice.
Some medical and health services managers oversee the activities of a number of facilities in health systems. Such systems might contain both inpatient and outpatient facilities and offer a wide range of patient services.
Some managers work in comfortable, private offices; others share space with other staff. Most medical and health services managers work long hours. Nursing care facilities and hospitals operate around the clock; administrators and managers be called at all hours to deal with problems. They also travel to attend meetings or inspect satellite facilities.
Education and Training
The healthcare administrator job description includes a master’s degree in one of a number of fields for most generalist positions as a medical or health care manager. A bachelor’s degree is sometimes adequate for entry-level positions in smaller facilities and departments. In physicians’ offices and some other facilities, on-the-job experience may substitute for formal education.
The Master's or Bachelor’s degree can be in healthcare administration, information technology, accounting or a business concentration.
Licensing and Credentialing
All States and the District of Columbia require nursing care facility administrators to have a bachelor’s degree, pass a licensing examination, complete a state-approved training program, and pursue continuing education. Some States also require licenses for administrators in assisted living facilities. A license is not required in other areas of medical and health services management.
Most jobs are in hospitals, nursing care facilities, and offices of physicians or other health practitioners.
Faster than average employment growth is expected; however, growth may be constrained if employers merge departments or expect administrators to manage more departments and downsize managers in an effort to decrease costs.
A master's degree is the preferred educational requirement for the healthcare administrator
Long hours and being on call can be expected in this field
Medical and health services managers advance by moving into more responsible and higher paying positions, such as assistant or associate administrator, department head, or chief executive officer, or by moving to larger facilities. Some experienced managers also may become consultants or professors of health care management.
New graduates with master’s degrees in health services administration may start as department managers or as supervisory staff. The level of the starting position varies with the experience of the applicant and the size of the organization. Hospitals and other health facilities offer postgraduate residencies and fellowships, which usually are staff positions. Graduates from master’s degree programs also take jobs in large medical group practices, clinics, mental health facilities, nursing care corporations, and consulting firms.
Graduates with bachelor’s degrees in health administration usually begin as administrative assistants or assistant department heads in larger hospitals. They also may begin as department heads or assistant administrators in small hospitals or nursing care facilities.
Resources for Healthcare Administrator’s Job Description
Medical and Health Service Managers Job Description, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition.
American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management (AAHAM) is the premier professional organization in healthcare administrative management.
Association for Healthcare Administrative Professionals organization for administrative professionals who support our nation’s healthcare leaders.