Students and professionals thinking of getting into the health care industry often ask what does a healthcare administrator do? Health care administrators, sometimes called health services managers, play a crucial role in health care organizations, be it a hospital, nursing home, health clinic, private medical facility, or other health care settings. While not directly providing medical services, the health administrator forms the foundation or support for the various teams within these organizations and manage their roles. In this article, we have listed some of the key health care administrator duties and responsibilities, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). We have also listed other related responsibilities of health care administrators and health services managers that define their day-to-day functions in healthcare administration.
Like business administration, those in healthcare administration are leaders in the healthcare industry, they guide and support their teams to help patients and families in the healthcare facility. Those in the field of health services administration work to ensure the quality of health care delivery and results and help patients make informed decisions. In health administration, you deal with the business side of medicine and are responsible for driving the profitability of the hospitals or clinics, or any medical facility, while maintaining the highest quality of health care for all. A health administrator will analyze the impact of information systems, population health, and technology trends on patient outcomes.
Everyone needs medical care at some point in their lives, and healthcare administration professionals are responsible for ensuring that they get the best of that care. In a health care administration role, they may not interact directly with the patient, but they impact decisions and services rendered through the many teams they manage. One needs a strong foundation of competencies to be effective healthcare administration professionals an in-depth knowledge and awareness in diverse healthcare topics, and a range of business skills. Healthcare administrators work on making a lasting and positive impact on the patient experience. They can affect change and influence both systems and policies to help develop better and effective health programs and healthcare services in hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
What does a health care administrator do? A closer look.
Healthcare administrators oversee many different areas of a health care facility, including patient care. Top healthcare administrator duties and responsibilities include:
- Operations Management
- Financial Management
- Human Resource Management
- Legal Responsibilities
Most health care administrators and health services managers are essential employees in any healthcare setting. They are responsible for delivering quality health care services and driving organizational success. Let us take a closer look at the top five responsibilities.
#1 Operations Management
Operations management is perhaps one of the most crucial responsibilities in health administration. It is an umbrella term for multiple tasks that ensures that the healthcare practice operates smoothly and efficiently. Healthcare administrators and health services managers are responsible for planning and running an efficient organizational structure, evaluating the healthcare management industry and organizational practices. A health care administrator will oversee the organization and management of staff, facilities, and overall business. They formulate a master budget and ensure that all costs are well managed. Along with strategic planning and managing technological updates, leaders in health care administration also focus on identifying and managing outsourced business services and creating a safe, positive, and quality work environment.
#2 Human Resource Management
Employee and staff management is essential to every organization because they are the most valuable resources for every business in a healthcare setting. Most health care administrators manage staff and are often responsible for vetting resumes, interviewing, and hiring health care personnel. They know what is best for the organization and make sure that they add the most qualified administrative personnel to the team. They manage multiple teams and ensure that they have the resources to do their jobs properly. Healthcare administrators and health services managers motivate their teams and focus on retaining human resources by creating a positive work environment. They foster employee engagement in the workplace, work with HR personnel to offer incentives and employee assistance, and provide training and advancement opportunities to team members.
#3 Financial Management
Financial management is an important part of an organization’s operations and is integral to its success and survival. It is also an integral part of a healthcare administrator’s duties and responsibilities. In most cases, healthcare administrators manage either a team of finance account executives or individual accountants, depending on the size of the business and organization. Qualified healthcare administrators manage their teams and perform functions well because they are trained in the particular aspects of finances. They are familiar with reimbursement policies, know the billing codes and the billing cycle details. Healthcare managers oversee accounts payable, manage cash flow, oversee administering payroll, supervise audits, and review budgets.
#4 Marketing & Communications
Healthcare administrators work with upper management to ensure positive brand in patient care, including internal and external relations. Key responsibilities of a healthcare administrator include developing and maintaining lines of communication between the various departments within the organization. They often serve as liaisons between boards of trustees, departments, medical and business staff. They are involved in projects for internal communications, information management, and community relations. In terms of internal communication, they work with HR to provide streamlined channels for employee feedback and suggestions. In terms of external communications, they work with PR departments to communicate the organization’s message, improve bolster community relations, attend fundraisers, and everything is running smoothly and efficiently.
#5 Ethics and Legal
Medical and health services can be complex and involves a lot of people, both internally and externally. Healthcare administrators work hand in hand with their organizations’ legal and ethics departments since they are crucial issues in the medical profession. They work with their legal teams to stay updated on the current laws and regulations to remain compliant with regulatory issues. Since they are also responsible for internal communications and employee management, healthcare administrators create an ethical and safe working environment. They develop and maintain strategies and procedures to deal with adverse events, compliance programs for federal and state laws and regulations, comply with health care licensure requirements, and oversee all kinds of crisis management.
Before deciding on a healthcare administration degree, students interested in the field need to research more about a healthcare administrator’s role and develop various business and health care competencies. Other business areas that the role of a healthcare administrator covers includes:
- Project management
- Quality assurance
- Risk management
- Insurance & regulatory issues
- Healthcare administrator job description
A healthcare administrator’s role touches upon all the above in their day-to-day work. Through a healthcare administration program, they must be trained in health care management basics and all relevant organizational and business basics . Two skillsets crucial to healthcare administration are effective leadership skills and making good business decisions for healthcare settings. The above are the top job responsibilities that health care administrators perform. However, their jobs include a lot of other responsibilities in health management. A quick overview:
- Managing staff and health professionals within an entire facility or department
- Improving the quality of medical and health services and their delivery
- Addressing public health issues involving medical and health services
- Managing health informatics, including medical records
- Organizing healthcare facility records, maintaining confidentiality and security
- Understanding healthcare policy, laws, and regulations
- Managing the client care/patient care experience
- Overseeing the financial health of the department or organization
- Reviewing financial budgets and managing operational costs
- Managing human capital, including policies for performance reviews, hiring, staff schedules, etc.
- Ensuring an organization’s regulatory compliance with medical and legal regulations and internal policies
Health administration job outlook
As we can see, healthcare administrators’ jobs are complex and expansive. The bulk of their day-to-day operations are responsible for the smooth operations of healthcare companies, non-profits, and other healthcare organizations like nursing homes and clinics. They are in demand and accountable for delivering high-quality medical and health services while also remaining profitable.
There are many healthcare facilities and organizations seeking professionals who can plan, manage, and coordinate various aspects of medical and health services. Most of these will require at least a bachelor’s degree in the field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the employment of medical and health services managers who complete these degree programs will grow at 28 percent through 2031, which is faster than the average growth of other occupations. The median annual salary for a medical and health services manager is $101,340. Those with a health management or healthcare administration degree take on leadership positions and work in healthcare facilities and settings like:
- Private hospitals and health centers
- Nursing homes or residential care facilities
- Health care consulting firms
- Health care insurance companies
- Health IT startups
- Eldercare facilities (nursing home)
- Dental offices
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Medical device companies
- Community-based organizations
- Public health organizations
- Healthcare consulting firms
- Research institutes
- Medical and diagnostic laboratories
Where health care administrators work may depend on their university programs. Different degree programs lead to different job types in the healthcare field. One needs to research these degrees and related healthcare administrator job descriptions before making a choice. Those with an associate degree get into entry-level roles like executive assistants, healthcare coordinators, and healthcare administrative assistants. Those who hold a bachelor’s degree in health care administration get into jobs like senior managers or healthcare managers, assistant directors, assistant managers, health care consultant supervisors, clinical managers, or project managers. Master’s degree holders in public health care administration or health care management work in health professions such as directors and deputy directors, vice presidents, health administrators, nursing home administrators, health services administrators, hospital CEO, and senior health care consultants.
Health care administration is a rewarding career path. Health care administrators transform the quality of care/ patient experience and profoundly change patients’ lives through patient advocacy. They use policies, informatics, and technology in the health sciences to foster healthier living habits. Health care administrators are focused on the financial, administrative, and managerial side of the organization. The essential skills for healthcare administration include:
- Strong business administration acumen
- Critical thinking skills
- Empathy and active listening skills
- Sound decision-making skills
- Written and oral communication skills
- Ability to work independently and on a team
- Conflict resolution skills
- Project management skills
- Health information management
- Ability to conduct research
- Executive leadership skills
Educational programs like a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration are a good fit for students and professionals looking to advance their careers in healthcare and clinical settings. This undergraduate program in healthcare administration provides students with foundational knowledge in health sciences, healthcare management, health care law and regulations, human resources, health informatics, risk management, health operations, related ethical issues, and quality assurance. Ambitious students will go on to pursue graduate programs for health care administrators, usually a master’s degree in the field such as a master’s degree in health care administration. Most universities offer experiential learning educational programs for the aspiring health administrator, which means students enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program or master’s degree program gain real-world experience in the health care industry and learn about best practices.