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What is Healthcare Management?

Healthcare ManagementToday healthcare is the nation’s largest industry and, like all industries, healthcare depends upon the skills of healthcare management to direct its operations. The healthcare industry is also the nation’s second largest employer. Like all huge businesses, healthcare needs people at management levels who can coordinate large numbers of employees and see to the day-to-day functioning of healthcare facilities. Independent hospitals are disappearing, replaced by “hospital chains” owned by health networks. This amalgamation means that healthcare managers at all levels are increasingly needed to handle the ever-more-complex industry of providing healthcare.

Definition of the Profession

There is sometimes confusion over the terms healthcare administration and management. While they are often used interchangeably, management refers to directing the operations of a facility and administration refers mainly to coordinating the functions of staff. According to Health Management Careers, there are 100,000 people employed as management in the industry, from heads of various departments to facility CEOs. Managers in healthcare must work in public relations, understand government standards and requirements, have some knowledge of the medical procedures performed at their facilities and possess an aptitude for finance and accounting.

Duties of Managers in Healthcare

According to JB Pub, managers in healthcare work in two environments: the external and the internal. External components of the job are community needs and opinion, the culture of the area, reimbursements from private insurance and compliance with regulations governing Medicare, Medicaid and other benefit programs. There are several general “duties” designated for managers in healthcare. These are:

  • Planning–setting goals for the facility and determining the best way to reach them
  • Organization—Developing policies for facility and staff performance, designating staff roles and chains of command
  • Staffing—Working with the human resources for the recruitment and retaining of top employees, including physicians
  • Controlling–Monitoring staff performance and intervening with sanctions if necessary
  • Directing—Leading and coordinating lower-level managers and other staff
  • Decision Making– deciding upon the best course of action in matters of budget, staffing or other issues

In most of these capacities, managers act as supervisors and do not deal with the matters directly. The exception is in the direction of lower-level managers, supervisors or department heads. It is vital, however, that they have a grasp of the overall functioning of their facilities to understand the problems that arise.

Where They are Employed

The healthcare industry is burgeoning and includes pharmaceutical and insurance companies. However, managers with healthcare specializati0ons are most commonly found in physician group practices; in nursing homes as administrators or as directors of departments like food services, maintenance and nursing; in hospitals as CEOs, directors of marketing, managers of clinical staff and as admission supervisors; in rehabilitation facilities and urgent care facilities. Salaries depend upon the geographical location and the level of management, but the median salary of a manager in healthcare is $103.680. However, managers in healthcare networks can earn salaries of more than $900,000 annually.

Related Resource: Network Systems Administrator

The increase in complexity of the healthcare system has changed the educational requirements for entry-level management positions. Nearly all managers are required to have graduate degrees. The profession is demanding and high-stress, but professionals in healthcare management say it is also extremely satisfying personally and financially.