A health systems management degree is a bachelor’s or master’s degree that allows you to obtain employment as an administrator or manager in a healthcare facility, hospital, long-term care facility, nursing home or home healthcare company. Some of the larger employers in the healthcare field will require a master’s in health systems management, but some smaller companies may allow you to work as an entry-level manager with a bachelor’s degree.
What Is Health Systems Management?
Healthcare, like all industries, is a business. It needs strong management to keep it running smoothly and efficiently. It is estimated that 300,000 people work in healthcare management and administration, from middle managers to top-level executives. Companies can range from small ones with a few staff members, to major international healthcare organizations with hundreds of thousands of workers.
Health systems management is the business side of healthcare. Responsibilities in health systems management can include:
- Developing healthcare policy
- Coordinating and directing planning
- Maintaining efficient and effective healthcare organization structure
- Managing healthcare organization’s assets efficiently
- Analyzing the efficiency and profitability of the healthcare organization
The healthcare field is one of the most prosperous in the country today. The Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS reports that employment in the profession will increase by 18% through 2026, which is much faster than average. In all, there will be an addition of 2.4 million jobs in various healthcare fields. Healthcare occupations should add more employment to the economy in that time period than all other employment groups. The projected growth is largely because of our aging population, which causes more demand for healthcare services.
The most common career path for professionals with a health systems management degree is medical and health services manager. These professionals may also be referred to as healthcare executives and healthcare administrators. They are responsible for planning, directing and coordinating medical and health services.
These healthcare professionals may be responsible for managing a healthcare facility, a certain clinical area or department or a medical practice for a group of doctors. It is important for medical and health services managers to be skilled in adapting to changes in healthcare laws, technology and regulations.
The most common types of medical and health services managers are:
- Nursing home administrators: Manage staff, finances, admissions and patients in nursing homes.
- Clinical managers: Provide oversight of a certain department in a healthcare facility, such as surgery, nursing or physical therapy.
- Health information managers: Responsible for maintenance and security of various patient records and data in a healthcare facility.
This is an excellent career to consider for your future. Employment in the field should increase by an excellent 20% from 2016 to 2026, which is much faster than average. As the baby boom population is getting older and people are more active in their elder years, there should be a higher need for many healthcare services. This means not only more need for clinical workers, but also for managers who handle the organization of healthcare staff and medical information.
This is a high paid field, so investing in your education with a health systems management degree is a solid idea. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median salary for medical and health services managers is $98,400, with the bottom 10% earning less than $58,300, and the top 10% earning more than $176,000 per year. The median annual wages in this field in top industries as of 2017 are:
- Hospitals: $107,200
- Government: $106,200
- Outpatient care centers: $89,900
- Doctors’ offices: $89,700
- Nursing and residential care facilities: $82,900
Online Degree Programs
Students who are employed full time and want to earn their health systems management degree may wish to earn their degree online. Today there are many quality, affordable online degree programs that allow you to get your education without even leaving your home.
For example, the University of Baltimore offers a Bachelor of Science in Health Systems Management that helps you to gain skills and knowledge related to business practices, leadership skills and healthcare support services. This program will make you in high demand in the marketplace to address quality and process improvement, cost saving and risk management. Students also graduate well versed in health management, business and public policy as it applies to the healthcare system.
Required health systems management courses are:
- Health Economics
- Statistics for Health Management
- Health Finance
- Healthcare Delivery System
- Healthcare Management Principles I and II
- Health Policy and Politics
- Quantitative Methods for Healthcare Managers
To get a great start in your healthcare management career, consider a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management from Western Governor University Texas. This four-year degree program will arm you with the skills and knowledge to play a vital leadership role in many healthcare environments, such as hospitals, doctors’ offices, nursing and residential care facilities.
This is an online and flexible bachelor’s degree, so students can study when and where it works best for them. The focus of this healthcare management program is to prepare you with the knowledge, skills and credentials that are wanted by modern healthcare employers in many healthcare facilities and organizations. This program was developed with healthcare management experts who serve on the university’s Business Program Council. Students will study course materials that are deemed to be essential by successful healthcare management professionals with a firsthand perspective on what is needed to be an effective leader in the modern healthcare world.
Key subject areas you will study are:
- Healthcare business strategy
- Healthcare ethics
- Healthcare business la
- Healthcare delivery systems
- Healthcare value and ethics
- Healthcare technology applications in healthcare
- Finance resource management in healthcare
Once you have some work experience in the healthcare management field, you may want to earn your master’s degree so that you can eventually get higher level management positions with better compensation. A possible choice is the online Master of Science in Management with a concentration in Healthcare from Southern New Hampshire University. SNHU was one of the first universities in the country to offer a master’s degree in healthcare management.
This degree program will provide you with the skills with people and healthcare systems management so that you can be responsive and flexible when you are faced with difficult business issues. You also will gain the critical knowledge that is needed to make good strategic decisions and promote regular healthcare quality improvement.
Some of the business principles that you will explore in this online degree program are effective healthcare business communication, healthcare project management, organizational brand and culture, leadership and strategic planning.
Required courses include:
- Cultivating Organizational Culture
- Resource Planning and Decision Making
- Critical Issues in Management
- Corporate Communications
- Human Behavior in Organizations
- Strategic Human Resource Management
- Business Research
- Project Management
- Health Policy and Law
- Healthcare Information Management
- Healthcare Quality
All schools and universities have individual requirements for admission. These are the typical requirements to enter a master’s degree program in health systems management:
- 0 GPA may be required
- GRE or GMAT scores required at some universities
- Three professional or academic recommendations
- Writing samples
Some of the required courses you can expect in a health systems management master’s program include:
- Introduction to Healthcare Organization and Policy
- Healthcare Management
- Health Information Systems
- Corporate Financial Reporting
- Managerial Finance
- Legal Aspects of Healthcare
- Leadership of Healthcare Organizations
- Healthcare Quality Management
- HR Management in Healthcare
- Analytics for Healthcare Systems Management
Earning your health systems management degree is an excellent investment in your future, but that investment can be a financial burden. With the following scholarships and grants, you may be able to reduce some of the financial load of earning your degree:
- Albert W. Dent Graduate Student Scholarship
- Bachrach Family Scholarship for Excellence in Healthcare Administration
- Bill and Mary Russell Scholarship
- Corris Boyd Scholars Program
- David A Winston Health Policy Scholarship
- Elliott C. Roberts Scholarship
- Foster G. McGaw Graduate Student Scholarship
- Gates Millennium Scholars Program
After you earn your healthcare management degree, earning certain credentials can make you more marketable and increase your salary. Popular certifications in this field include:
- Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives
- Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems
- Certified Professional in Healthcare Risk Management
- Certified Medical Manager
- American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management
Some of the associations and organizations you may want to belong to with your health systems management degree are:
- American College of Healthcare Executives
- American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management
- Healthcare Administrators Association
- Healthcare Financial Management Association
- National Association of Healthcare Access Management
Earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree in health systems management is an excellent investment in your future. With the high demand for healthcare services in the next decade, you will be able to find good-paying work in a variety of healthcare management and administration positions.
- Medical and Health Services Managers. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm
- Healthcare Occupation. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home.htm
- Health Administration Management. (2016). Retrieved from https://explorehealthcareers.org/field/health-administration-management/