Administrative responsibilities in hospitals and other healthcare facilities need to be managed by professionals who have the knowledge and understanding of the regulatory framework and the complexities involved with patient care. Healthcare organizations seek executive candidates with advanced degrees and an expertise in healthcare administration to fill positions for healthcare and hospital administrators.
What do healthcare administrators do and how do their responsibilities compare to those of other administrative professionals in the medical field? The discerning factor is the scope of the professional’s responsibilities. Hospital administrators oversee medical facility processes. Healthcare administrators, on the other hand, need to have a much more comprehensive idea about healthcare organizations, including regulatory frameworks, the different entities involved in the process and their roles and overall health management policies.
Duties of Healthcare Administrators
Whether they work in nursing homes, private medical facilities or state-run emergency centers, healthcare administrators deal with everything related to operating healthcare sites and organizations.
A multi-disciplinary approach is essential in the field of healthcare administration. Some of the duties of these healthcare leaders include:
- Strategic planning of operations management within the respective facility or entity responsible for healthcare services
- Formulation of master budgets and budgetary allocations
- Introduction of productivity measures in the workplace
- Management of outsourced business services and communication with third parties or service providers
- Management and introduction of technological updates like the use of new software for record management
- Human resource management
- Design and maintenance of a compliance program to ensure that facilities maintain proper accreditation
- Creation of an emergency plan for adverse events and unforeseen circumstances
- Informing healthcare providers and caregivers about new regulations and providing training, if necessary
- Effective communication of new policies and procedures to staff, caregivers, and providers
What do healthcare administrators do? They lead interdisciplinary teams to improve patient care and outcomes while improving workplace efficiency and maintaining accreditation. They coordinate and organize everything from compliance to financial planning. Because of these diversified tasks, prospective healthcare administrators should consider an education program that offers instruction in many disciplines like human resources, psychology, finances, mathematics, and healthcare law.
Possible Work Settings for Hospital Administrators
Hospital administrators can put their leadership skills to use in any kind of organization or entity related to the healthcare field. They work in an array of different settings and industries, including in state-run hospitals or medical facilities, nursing homes, private medical practices, home health centers, health insurance companies, or governmental policy positions. Job duties may vary somewhat in each of these settings, but a degree in health administration should prepare students to work in any of them.
Qualifications for Hospital Administrators
Hospital administrators are leaders who have many responsibilities, so candidates must have both the education and experience to be considered for these positions. Usually, a relevant master’s degree will be needed for mid- to high-level positions in a hospital, nursing and residential care facility, physician’s office, insurance company or a governmental policy position. Undergraduate degrees are often required for entry-level hospital administration jobs.
Skills of the Ideal Healthcare Administrator
Healthcare administrators should be professionals who have the many competencies the different disciplines that running a healthcare facility or organization requires. They should work towards the development of critical skills like:
- Strong analytical skills. Health administrators and managers will need to go through legal documents, reports about hospital performance, and internal audits or guidelines. Strong analytical skills will be required to identify key data and put it to good use.
- Communication skills. Upon the completion of analyses, the findings and the new policies must be communicated with healthcare providers, caregivers, and other staff.
- Leadership skills. Pushing for change isn’t always easy. Often, administrators face resistance to change. They need to have excellent leadership skills to manage change in a positive way that engages personnel and ensures the changes happen.
- Policy-making skills. Healthcare administrators must be pioneers. They are policy makers who understand new regulatory frameworks and develop implementation strategies to comply with regulations.
- Negotiation skills. Like the communication skills, negotiation skills are required to help resolve conflicts. Change isn’t a smooth process, so the healthcare administrator must tactfully negotiate with stakeholders to ensure compliance.
- Extensive knowledge of the healthcare environment. To ensure smooth operations and enact change, healthcare administrators need a working knowledge of how healthcare organizations function.
- Technical skills. The healthcare administrator doesn’t need to be a provider, but this person should understand enough about healthcare and technological innovations to form judgements about possible technological innovations and their adoption.
- Detail orientation. Healthcare administrators need to sweat the details. Since they’re the top executives in their organizations, they’re also the decision makers. When it’s time to take credit for smart decisions or when it’s time to hold someone accountable for poor decisions, it’s the system’s chief administrators who take responsibility. Before they come to a decision, wise healthcare administrators review all the details to ensure that the decision is correct for the organization.
Salary Range for Healthcare Administrators
PayScale reports that the median annual salary of healthcare administrators is $63,414. Depending on experience and the area that they operate in, healthcare administrators can earn up to $100,735. Experienced health administrators who have over 20 years of work in the field can expect to earn a salary that is up to 40 percent higher than the national average.
Healthcare Administrators Job Outlook and Growth
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the demand for top executive healthcare administrators will increase by 8 percent until 2026. The rate is quite higher than the national average for all professions and it’s also higher than the projected overall growth rate in the medical field.
According to industry analysts, health administrators may benefit from new professional and employment opportunities in the future. Apart from working for standard employers, like hospitals and clinics, such professionals are also likely to become more involved in the development of community programs and preventative policies aimed at controlling chronic diseases and other conditions.
The Future of Healthcare Administration
The short answer to “What do healthcare administrators do?”, is that they use their education and experience to lead, manage, and change healthcare organizations. The administrative side of healthcare is as important as providing patient care. Administrators make policies, enhance the efficiency of medical teams, and push for more change in the future. While they do carry a lot of responsibility, improving healthcare delivery in a facility, system or organization is a great reward.
The future looks bright for aspiring hospital administrators and other healthcare managers. Employment demand is steady, and openings are expected as current managers and leadership reach retirement age over the next decade. Candidates who possess master’s degrees in health administration might find many opportunities in this field.
Start Your Healthcare Administrator Career at Maryville University
If you’re interested in taking advantage of the burgeoning opportunities in the healthcare administration field, find out how Maryville University’s online Master’s in Health Administration can prepare you for a rewarding career.
Nursing Administration Quarterly
Journal of Health Organization and Management