What is Healthcare Management?

Healthcare management involves making both daily and long-term decisions that reflect the healthcare system’s business strategies. As leaders in a dynamic and interdisciplinary field that combines health policy, business, and science to manage fiscal and human resources, healthcare administrators strive to improve the business of healthcare; an endeavor that always starts with sound policy and top quality patient care.

The sheer size and complexity of many of our nation’s healthcare systems means that healthcare management encompasses everything from policy making to human resources to department management and beyond. However, the goal of healthcare management is always the same: to ensure the coordinated delivery of healthcare and the efficient management of medical facilities.

Depending on the type and size of the healthcare system, healthcare management may involve a number of teams working in unison to manage the system at every level.

Healthcare management may involve the oversight and management of:

  • An entire healthcare system
  • Specific facilities, such as physician’s practices, hospitals, and home health agencies
  • Specific departments or units, such as critical care units, emergency departments, and cardiac care units
  • Specific clinical areas, such as nursing, physical therapy, and cardiology
  • Specific areas, such as staffing, facility administration, admissions, and finances

The Value of Healthcare Administration

Healthcare management is called a “hidden” career, since it is one of the last things to come to mind when most people think of medical services. Although the work of professionals in healthcare administration occurs behind the scenes, their worth is undeniable. In fact, healthcare managers  have tremendous influence on the availability, accessibility, and quality of healthcare in our nation’s communities.

Skilled healthcare managers create an environment in which healthcare providers are able to practice both effectively and efficiently. It also provides safe, comfortable, and compassionate places for people to receive health services.

Although healthcare management is concerned with the business side of healthcare, it does not diminish the focus on providing top quality and highly effective patient care.

 

Today’s Health and Medical Administration Field

Over the last century, healthcare management has witnessed dramatic changes:

  • Hospitals have become large, complex organizations
  • Technology has advanced exponentially
  • Healthcare financing has moved from private pay to a complex, third-party reimbursement system
  • Government has taken on a larger role in healthcare delivery

Despite these significant changes, the field continues to focus on the business and financial aspects of hospitals, clinics, and other health services, with particular focus placed on efficiency and financial stability.

The primary roles of today’s professionals in healthcare administration include:

  • Human resources management
  • Financial management
  • Cost accounting
  • Data collection and analysis
  • Strategic planning
  • Marketing
  • Maintenance functions of the organization
  • Providing the most basic social services: the care of dependent people at the most vulnerable points in their lives.
  • Maintaining the moral and social order of healthcare organizations
  • Serving as patient advocates
  • Serving as arbitrators in situations where there are competing values
  • Serving as intermediaries for the various professional groups practicing within the organization

Some of the challenges professionals in healthcare administration face today include:

  • Ensuring effective, efficient healthcare services for communities
  • Shortages of nurses and other healthcare workers
  • Concern for the safety and quality of healthcare services
  • Rising healthcare costs
  • An aging population
  • Rapidly changing medical terminology and practice