While most patients come into contact primarily with doctors and nurses, hospitals are full of support staff, administrators and other personnel who ensure the proper function of the hospital and delivery of care to the patient. Healthcare administrators oversee all of these people, medical staff included. Their job is to ensure that the hospital runs smoothly, that it meets its goals and that it remains open to continue serving patients.
What Healthcare Administrators at Hospitals Do
Healthcare administrators have a wide range of duties and responsibilities. In addition to ensuring that doctors and nurses are providing adequate patient care, administrators must tend to the financial health of the hospital, ensure compliance with legal requirements, organize and maintain records, create work schedules and engage in recruitment, hiring and training. Healthcare administrators must be liaisons between the hospital and various people, such as between governing boards and medical staff, or department heads and legal. In teaching hospitals, administrators are often responsible in part for the education of new doctors, too.
Healthcare administration requires numerous meetings, fundraising events and conventions, and administrators must keep up to date on current medical trends and technology, medical law and the people they must keep in contact with in the field. An administrator plans budgets and sets and enforces policy within the hospital, evaluates doctors and other hospital staff and helps to develop new medical procedures.
Essential Skills for Healthcare Administration
It’s essential in healthcare administration to have a broad array of skills. Administrators must have solid medical knowledge, but healthcare administration also requires excellent organizational, intrapersonal, analytical and leadership skills. Healthcare administrators are often promoted from other medical or administrative positions because a strong foundation of work experience is essential. In order to manage a hospital effectively, an administrator must know the people who work there, the policies and quirks of the hospital and the hospital’s needs and goals.
Critical thinking skills and problem solving skills are necessary to the job, and a good healthcare administrator knows how to lead and delegate when his or her own knowledge comes up short. Administrators must know their staff and their capabilities, and must be able to select the right person for the job.
Part of healthcare administration is also acting as a role model within the hospital. A high degree of motivation and interest as well as strong ethical principles and solid competence in the field are all important parts of leading by example.
Fostering Improvement through Good Healthcare Administration
Hospitals are increasingly complex organizations. Healthcare administrators are responsible for minimizing the impact that mistakes have on the hospital and its staff, and there are many other ways administrators can foster improvements within their hospitals.
Many hospitals are moving to embrace electronic health records as a way to create more accuracy and consistency in handling patient information. Improving cybersecurity within a hospital makes it less vulnerable to hacking and unintentionally distributed malware, while data from wearable sensors can provide accurate, up-to-date medical information on an outpatient basis. Researching new drugs can improve standards of care, and hospital infections can be reduced with the introduction of blue-violet LED light fixtures, which provide continual disinfection.
The single most important accomplishment for a hospital is good outcomes for patients. By incentivizing good patient outcomes and ethical care, healthcare administrators can foster real and positive change.
Promote Process Discipline
While working in a hospital comes with some amount of thinking on one’s feet, there are always areas of the hospital’s day-to-day running where processes can be managed and improved. Focusing on efficiency within these processes and ensuring that training is consistent across staff can reduce waste and potential for human error.
Train Teams, Not Individuals
Hospital employees rarely interact with a patient in a vacuum, and nearly every hospital employee must learn to rely on other employees. By shifting the focus of training away from individual training and toward training teams of people to work together, healthcare administrators can build team cohesion and create bonding opportunities. They can teach team members to understand and rely upon each other’s skills and expertise. This, in turn, builds trust and synergy among team members, allowing the team as a whole to operate with more efficiency and accuracy.
Salaries for Healthcare Administrators
A healthcare administrator’s median salary is around $104,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with a lower range around $57,000 and an upper range around $172,000 during 2016. These salaries are significantly higher than the average salary in America, and healthcare administrators who manage state, private and local hospitals tend to be on the upper end of the salary range.
Demand for medical and health services managers is expected to increase by about 17 percent by 2024, which equates to roughly 56,000 more jobs in the field. To meet this increased demand, hospitals are looking for highly qualified individuals to become administrators.
There are a variety of occupations available to skilled healthcare administrators with an MBA with a specialization in healthcare administration. Health information managers are responsible for spreading medical information within an organization, and are often responsible for disseminating information from the hospital’s board of directors. The CFO for a hospital, on the other hand, takes responsibility for managing the hospital’s operating costs and budget, and commands an even higher median annual wage of around $181,000.
Pursuing a Career in Healthcare Administration
An online MBA with a specialization in healthcare administration from Concordia University Texas can make the difference. Learn about healthcare strategy, policy trends and quality methods in healthcare at a pace that works for your busy life.
Additional source: A Day in the Life of a Hospital Administrator, The Princeton Review