Health Service Management
In the health care business, effective management is needed to ensure quality services are provided to those in need. Health services managers include people who supervise, direct, plan, and coordinate health care. Generalist manager positions supervise entire systems and facilities whereas specialist positions manage particular services or clinical departments.
Because of the fast-changing face of health care, health services managers must navigate a complex environment in which a growing focus in on preventative care. Job restructuring, evolving health care delivery systems and technological innovations drive this fast paced industry. Managers are responsible for improving the efficiency and quality of health care delivery. Health services managers develop strategies and policies to optimize the efficiency of health care delivery.
In a large facility, the top administrator generally has several assistant administrators to aid in decision-making. Medical records, surgery, health information, nursing, and therapy are clinical areas that assistant administrators might manage. Top administrators are responsible for managing the more tedious operations in small facilities. In a nursing home, operations include resident care, finance, admissions, facility operations, and personnel.
A clinical manager is responsible for coordinating activities with various managers, evaluating work and personnel, developing budgets and reports, as well as creating and executing procedures, policies, and objectives for their department. Clinical management positions require experience or training in specific clinical areas. For example, an administrator over medical records and health information generally has a bachelor's degree in either medical record administration or health information whereas a Director of Physical Therapy must have extensive experience as a physical therapist.
The managers of group medical practices work alongside physicians. In small medical groups, policy decisions are made by the physicians and office managers are responsible for the business affairs; larger medical groups often hire a full-time administrator to run the day-to-day business and to handle business issues and policy decisions.
Large practices of around 50 doctors might employ a chief administrator who has a number of assistants to handle areas such as planning, budgeting, human resources, patient flow, billing and collection, and equipment outlays. A smaller group of 10 to 15 doctors may only have one administrator to handle all areas.
Health services managers working in managed care facilities have similar responsibilities to managers of group practices; however, they manage larger staffs and work more in preventive care and community outreach than the managers of group practices. Health service managers may be responsible for supervising numerous health system facilities that provide a variety of inpatient and outpatient services.
Health services managers are employed by ambulatory facilities run by local and state governments, insurance carriers, in-home health care services, elderly community care centers, and outpatient care facilities. About 17 percent of managers work in nursing care facilities or doctors' offices and close to 37 percent work in hospitals.
Training and Job Qualifications for Health Service Managers
To obtain a career as a health services manager, a bachelor's degree is necessary for select entry-level positions at a departmental level in a small healthcare facility. Most generalist positions require a master's degree in Health Sciences, Business Administration, Health Services Administration, Public Health, Long-term care Administration, or Public Administration. Various facilities and doctors' offices sometimes replace job experience for formal education.
With a degree in Health Services, a graduate can begin their career as an Assistant Department Head or Administrative Assistant in nursing care facilities or hospitals. Although most areas of Health Services Management do not require licenses, nursing care facility administrators in all 50 states must have a license to work. This is obtained by passing a State-approved training, completing a bachelor's degree, pursuing continuing education, and by passing a licensing examination.
Because health services managers are responsible for hundreds of employees and very expensive equipment and facilities, they must be able to make effective decisions, interpret data, and understand information systems and finance. Strong leadership skills are necessary to motivate and execute their decisions. Communication skills, diplomacy, flexibility, and tact are crucial to success in management.
Because of a growing health services industry, the employment of health services managers is projected to expand more than the average occupation through 2012. Increasing opportunities will be found in outpatient care centers, health practitioners and doctor's offices, and in home health care services. Workers with good management and business skills as well as experience in the healthcare industry will have the greatest opportunities. Check out the Healthcare Executives Forum of Western New York for more ideas and information.
Opportunities in Health Service Administration, MS
Graduates in Health Service Administration program will find a growing need for individuals with skills such as information technology, reimbursement knowledge, and program planning and evaluation.
Professionals with this degree can represent several different disciplines in a wide variety of settings, including medical group practices, health care management companies, state and federal agencies, insurance and managed care companies, pharmaceutical industry and educational institutions. There is also a demand for knowledgeable professionals in geriatrics and with HMOs, hospitals and community organizations in customer service, project management and data management.
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