Students and professionals thinking of getting into healthcare often ask what does a healthcare administrator do? Healthcare administrators play a crucial role in healthcare organizations, be it a hospital, nursing home, health clinic, private medical practice, or a large organization. They form 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 healthcare administrator duties and responsibilities. We have also listed other related responsibilities of a healthcare administrator that defines their day-to-day functions.
As leaders in the healthcare industry, they guide and support their teams to help patients and families. They ensure the quality of healthcare delivery and results and help patients make informed decisions. They deal with the business side of medicine and are responsible for driving the profitability of the hospitals or clinics while maintaining the highest quality of healthcare for all. They 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 administrators are responsible for ensuring that they get the best of that care. 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 administrators and in-depth knowledge and awareness in diverse healthcare topics, and a range of business skills. They are focused on making a lasting and positive impact on patients from diverse groups. They can affect change and influence both systems and policies to help develop better and effective health programs.
What does a healthcare administrator do? A closer look.
Healthcare administrators undertake several duties and responsibilities. Top healthcare administrator duties and responsibilities include:
- Operations Management
- Financial Management
- Human Resource Management
- Legal Responsibilities
Healthcare administrators are essential employees in any healthcare setting; They are responsible for delivering quality healthcare 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 of a healthcare administrator. It is an umbrella term for multiple tasks that ensures that the healthcare practice operates smoothly and efficiently. The healthcare administrators are responsible for planning and running an efficient organizational structure, evaluating the healthcare management industry and organizational practices. They 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, they 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. Healthcare administrators manage staff and are often responsible for vetting resumes, interviewing, and hiring healthcare 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 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, a healthcare administrator manages 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. They 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 health, 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
Healthcare 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, they 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 licensure requirements, and oversee all kinds of crisis management.
Students interested in the field need to research more about a healthcare administrator’s role and develop various business and healthcare competencies. Other business areas that the role of a healthcare administrator covers includes:
- Project management
- Strategic planning
- 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. They must be trained in health care management basics and all relevant organizational and business basics. Two skillsets crucial to healthcare administration are providing effective leadership and making good business decisions for healthcare settings. The above are the top responsibilities that every healthcare administrator performs. However, their jobs include a lot of other responsibilities. A quick overview:
- Managing staff within a facility or department
- Improving the quality of healthcare service delivery
- Managing health informatics, including recordkeeping
- 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 compliance with medical and legal regulations and internal policies
Healthcare 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. They are in demand and accountable for delivering high-quality healthcare services while also remaining profitable.
There are many healthcare organizations seeking professionals who can plan, manage, and coordinate various aspects of healthcare services. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the employment of medical and health services managers will grow at 20 percent through 2026, which is faster than the average growth of other occupations. The median annual salary for a medical or health services manager is $99,730. Healthcare administrators work in settings like:
- Hospitals and health centers
- Nursing or residential care facilities
- Consulting firms
- Insurance companies
- Health IT startups
- Eldercare facilities
- Dental offices
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Medical device companies
- Community-based organizations
- Public health organizations
- Healthcare consulting firms
- Research institutes
- Medical and diagnostic laboratories
Different degree types 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 in healthcare administration get into jobs like senior managers or managers, assistant directors, assistant managers, healthcare consultant supervisors, program or project managers. Master’s degree holders in healthcare administration work as directors and deputy directors, vice presidents, health services administrators, CEOs, and senior healthcare consultants.
Healthcare administrators transform the quality of care and profoundly change patients’ lives. They use policies, informatics, and technology to foster healthier living habits. They are focused on the financial, administrative, and managerial side of the organization. The essential skills include:
- Strong business 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
A degree in healthcare administration is a good fit for students and professionals looking to advance their careers in healthcare and clinical settings. These programs provide students with foundational knowledge in healthcare management, healthcare law and regulations, human resources, health informatics, risk management, health operations, related ethical issues, and quality assurance. Most universities offer experiential learning, which means students gain real-world experience in the field and learn about best practices.