This article outlines the key aspects of a healthcare management career. You will learn what healthcare management professionals do, where they work, job duties, how to become one, and common career paths for healthcare management professionals.
What We Do
Healthcare management is a quickly growing industry in the US. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be at least 20% growth in healthcare management and administrative positions in the next five to seven years. This is happening because Americans are living longer and in need of more advanced healthcare services as they age.
Healthcare management refers to the management, administration and oversight of healthcare systems, public health systems, nursing homes, hospitals and related medical facilities. Healthcare management professionals are responsible for ensuring that medical facilities and individual departments are running smoothly.
Some healthcare managers are responsible for the entire facility, while others may only be responsible for a department.
The most common job duties for healthcare management professionals are:
- Improve the efficiency and quality of how healthcare services are delivered.
- Develop goals and objectives for the healthcare facility or department
- Ensure the facility or department is fully compliant with laws and regulations for the nation and/or state
- Manage the finances of the healthcare facility, including billing and patient fees
- Monitor and ready budgets to ensure departments are operating within proper funding limits
- Keep records of the facility’s healthcare services, such as the number of beds being used every day
- Communicate with clinical and administrative staff about the needs of the facility and/or department
Where We Work
Healthcare management professionals work in a variety of healthcare facilities and related organizations. According to BLS, these organizations and industries employ the most healthcare managers:
- Hospitals: state, local and private: 36%
- Doctors’ offices: 11%
- Nursing and residential care facilities: 10%
- Government: 8%
- Outpatient care centers: 7%
A related field is medical records and health information technicians, who work most often in these facilities:
- Hospitals: state, local and private: 36%
- Doctors’ offices: 19%
- Administrative and support services: 8%
- Professional, scientific and technical services: 7%
- Nursing care facilities: 6%
As far as where to find work in healthcare management geographically, below are some of the best cities in the country:
- Austin TX: This growing city has some of the top medical facilities in the country as well as a good medical school.
- Philadelphia PA: This largest city in the state is a major hub today for biomedical and pharmaceutical companies.
- Columbus OH: This is the biggest city in Ohio and has one of the healthiest economies in the country with a low unemployment rate and cost of living.
- Houston TX: This is one of the top job creators in the country, and is the home of some of the biggest and best medical facilities.
- Cincinnati OH: This is another Ohio city with a low cost of living and a strong base of healthcare management jobs.
How to Become
To get started in a healthcare management career, you will need to have at least a bachelor’s degree, but many healthcare organizations will want you to have a master’s degree in healthcare management or healthcare administration. You should have had courses such as hospital organization, medical terminology, health information systems, HR resources management, healthcare law and ethics and health information systems.
The demand for healthcare management professionals will rise by an impressive 20% through 2026. This is much faster than average. As the baby boomer population is growing older and staying more active, there will be more demand for healthcare services of all kinds.
This will mean more need for doctors and other healthcare professionals, as well as more procedures and healthcare facilities to take care of all these new patients. Thus, we can expect a greater need for healthcare managers who organize and manage medical information and healthcare staff. Also, there will be more need for nursing care administrators as the elderly population grows.
Employment is going to be especially strong in the offices of doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Many of the services that were once provided in hospitals are now being offered in these settings. This will occur even more as medical technology gets better and more diagnostic services are able to be offered in small practice settings.
Further, the greater use of electronic health records or EHRs will create more need for managers with knowledge of health information technology and health informatics. Healthcare management professionals will be needed to manage, organize and integrate these records in all kinds of healthcare facilities.
The high demand for healthcare management professionals means there will be excellent salaries available for people with these skills. BLS reports the median salary for medical and health services managers was $98,300 in May 2017. The top 10% earned more than $176,000. BLS also reported these salaries in this field by type of workplace:
- Hospitals: $107,000
- Government: $106,200
- Outpatient care: $89,900
- Offices of doctors: $89,700
- Nursing and residential care facilities: $82,900
A related occupation where there should be a lot of demand in the healthcare space is financial manager. Financial managers are being employed by healthcare organizations to ensure their overall financial health. Job demand for financial managers across different industries will rise by 19% by 2026, which is much faster than average. As more healthcare organizations are entering the space, it is necessary for these companies to be run efficiently from a financial perspective, and good financial managers will be much needed.
The median salary for financial managers in 2017 was $125,000 with the top 10% earning $200,000 or more.
Below are some other common career paths for healthcare management professionals:
- Informatics nurse: Responsible for bridging the gap between IT and clinical departments. Evaluate healthcare facilities to determine what IT clinical applications are needed to boost efficiency.
- Healthcare informatics specialist: Similar to informatics nurse but you work more closely with how technology is implemented in a healthcare setting.
- Clinical informatics specialist: Work with systems that are used to digitize patient information and medical records.
- Clinical informatics manager: Responsible for oversight of the daily operations of the clinical information systems in a variety of healthcare facilities.
Healthcare management professionals usually have at least a bachelor’s degree in a healthcare related field, such as healthcare administration or healthcare management. Many also need to have a master’s degree in public health, healthcare management or healthcare administration. Virtually all senior level roles will require a master’s degree in healthcare management or healthcare administration. The following degree types can be considered for undergraduate, graduate or MBA:
- Health Services Management Degree
- Healthcare Administration Degree
- Healthcare Informatics Degree
- Healthcare Management Degree
Training and Certifications
If you want to enjoy a prosperous healthcare management career, below are some certifications to consider:
- Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE): This certification ensures that you have the skills and knowledge to work successfully in healthcare administration at the highest levels. This designation is suitable for those who want to focus on finance and operations rather than IT.
- Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CPHIMS): This certification is to provide you with skills in information and management systems specific to healthcare.
- Certified Professional in Healthcare Risk Management (CPHRM): This certification is overseen by the American Hospital Association and is intended to gauge your level of skill as a healthcare management professional.
- Certified Medical Manager: This certification ensures you have the knowledge and skills to be successful in an office setting for healthcare management.
- American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management (AAHAM): The main focus of this designation is healthcare financial services and revenue generation.
- Medical and Health Services Managers. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm#tab-2
- 7 Cities for Aspiring Healthcare Leaders. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://onlineprograms.ollusa.edu/mba/resources/7-top-cities-for-aspiring-healthcare-leaders