What Does Healthcare Management Involve?
Although you might not have thought about it in these terms before, the healthcare industry is truly massive.
On average, it constitutes around 10% of the GDP of most developed countries, and is often one of the biggest single sources of expenditure by governments across the world. In the US, for example, the total expenditure on healthcare is around $4.1tn, which accounts for 19.7% of the total GDP.
The healthcare sector is also a significant employer in most countries. In the US, for example, there are around 22 million healthcare workers. It is also one of the largest and fastest-growing sectors, accounting for 14% of all US workers!
Taken together, these are staggering figures and give us a sense of just how large and important the healthcare sector is. Given both the growing size and importance of the sector, there has never been a greater need for qualified individuals who can facilitate the smooth running of the sector as a whole as well as individual healthcare institutions.
With this in mind, healthcare management is a fast-growing part of the healthcare sector, and it has taken on an increasingly important role in recent years.
But what exactly is healthcare management, and how can I get started along this career path?
What is healthcare management?
As the name suggests, healthcare management refers to the overall management and leadership of both public and private healthcare organizations. Healthcare management professionals play an important role in ensuring that operations across the entire healthcare sector run smoothly and help to deliver high levels of care for individuals within the healthcare system.
As the healthcare organizations have become both larger and more specialized, healthcare professionals have become increasingly important to maintaining high levels of care and ensuring that it is delivered in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
To this end, at a higher level, healthcare managers might take charge of ensuring that a healthcare facility stays within its budget or meets particular goals that have been set by relevant government departments. Healthcare managers also play an important role in the day-to-day operations of healthcare facilities.
What kind of work do healthcare managers do?
Although their working responsibilities will vary quite widely depending on their role and the specific healthcare organization they work within, healthcare managers typically undertake the following kinds of work:
- Acting as a media spokesperson or liaising with media organizations
- Collaborating with medical staff leaders on issues such as budget, equipment acquisitions, organizational planning, and maintaining good working relationships with staff members at all levels
- Making decisions about performance evaluations
- Meeting and managing staff expectations
- Budget management
- Billing and procurement
As you can see, the list of potential work duties is quite wide. However, this is part of why healthcare management has proved to be such an attractive career to so many individuals!
Training and education for a healthcare management career
Given the wide range of roles that healthcare management covers, there are a number of different routes into this career.
Generally speaking, however, you will typically need some kind of undergraduate degree to get started. Some common subjects that healthcare managers have studied include business, human resources, psychology, finance, pharmacy, management, and healthcare administration. There are not necessarily any prerequisites, so one bachelor’s degree is often as good as any other.
Increasingly, employers are looking for individuals with specific healthcare management qualifications. These are focused programs that prepare you with the academic knowledge and skills necessary to succeed as a healthcare management professional.
These subjects can be studied both in person and online and include online healthcare management degrees. Online degree programs have become popular in recent years as they allow early-career professionals working in the healthcare sector to equip themselves with the relevant skills and knowledge alongside their day job.
Types of healthcare management jobs
These educational qualifications open a number of different healthcare management career paths, including the following:
- Health coordinators: Often found within hospitals, nursing homes, and other care facilities, healthcare coordinators are responsible for evaluating and monitoring the quality of care provided within their particular service area.
- Clinical directors: Clinical directors are found across all areas of healthcare organizations. These include hospitals, nursing homes, research centers and various other clinical settings. Clinical directors lead and guide staff towards meeting their organization’s goals. This might encompass budget setting, hiring and staff management.
- Hospital managers: This position is present in many different types of hospital facilities. They are responsible for overseeing finances, communicating with different stakeholders, and meeting any compliance or regulatory obligations.
- Health supervisors: Much like healthcare administrators, health supervisors often work in care centers and hospitals. They are usually responsible for day-to-day administrative tasks, such as recording information, attending meetings, undertaking reports, creating and managing staff schedules, and various other related duties.
Key skills for healthcare management roles
Although your precise working duties and responsibilities can vary quite widely as a healthcare manager, the skills needed are quite similar across these different positions. With that said, some of the most important skills for a career in healthcare management include:
- Interpersonal skills: Given the wide variety of people you will encounter, interpersonal skills are essential. You will have to be open and approachable, while also working with empathy.
- Management: As the name suggests, healthcare management requires high-level management skills. You will be leading teams of people, setting and working towards goals and deadlines, and managing organizational resources at your disposal.
- Communication: As a healthcare manager, you will need to be able to communicate with various different stakeholders. This covers both verbal and written communication skills so that relevant information can be distributed effectively.
- Organization: Keeping track of important information and deadlines is a core part of what healthcare managers do. You will need to be detail oriented, conscientious and excellent at managing competing deadlines.