If you've ever been intrigued by the management side of health care, there are plenty of nonclinical professionals and administrators in the field that play an important role alongside doctors, nurses, and other health care providers.

By understanding what the management side of health care entails, as well as the various jobs available, you may better determine whether this could be a viable career path for you.

Understanding the Management Side of Health Care

Health care management and health care administration roles are what keep hospitals and other medical facilities running efficiently and smoothly. People in these positions handle anything from billing and scheduling to budgeting and operations—ensuring that health care providers can focus on caring for patients.

Depending on the specific role, there are many potential responsibilities a health care manager or administrator may take on daily. Some examples of common job duties include:

  • Human resources
  • Managing budgets and health care financial management
  • Ensuring quality and safety
  • Project management
  • Handling overall facility operations
  • Communicating with staff members
  • Implementing health care marketing strategies

Another central role health care administrators and managers can take on is that of managing sensitive patient information and ensuring compliance with health care privacy laws and other regulations. Health care facilities, for instance, must follow strict HIPAA guidelines to protect patient data and avoid penalties and other legal issues. Health care administrators must stay up to date on the latest compliance regulations and ensure their facilities are operating within current standards.

Key Career Paths in Health Care Management

What are potential jobs you can explore in the management side of health care? The following is by no means a comprehensive list, but it can help you get a feel for the type of work available in this field.

Health Care Operations and Administration

Professionals in health care operations and administration serve as the critical infrastructure supporting the foundation of medical facilities. They ensure that hospitals, clinics, and diverse health care settings not only run efficiently but also uphold the highest standards of patient care and safety. Occupying these pivotal roles requires a broad and adaptable skill set, as these individuals are tasked with everything from long-term strategic planning and resource allocation to the nuanced management of daily operations.

Their responsibilities are vast and varied, encompassing the development and implementation of policies and procedures that enhance operational effectiveness, ensure financial stability, and improve the overall patient experience. Moreover, these professionals play a crucial role in navigating the complex landscape of health care regulations and ensuring compliance with local, state, and federal standards, including patient privacy laws and safety guidelines.

By effectively managing these various elements, health care operations and administration professionals not only support the clinical side of health care but also contribute significantly to the sustainability and growth of their organizations. Their work ensures that health care providers can focus on delivering high-quality care, while the infrastructure that supports them operates seamlessly and efficiently, adapting to the ever-evolving demands of the health care industry. 

Health Care Finance

On the other hand, those in health care finance are more focused on the budgeting, accounting, and finance side of the business. They may help medical facilities create and adhere to budgets to keep the operation profitable, which can be challenging with rising health care and supply costs across the board. Additionally, they may assist with key accounting tasks like handling employee payroll, preparing and filing business taxes, and more.

Health Insurance

Professionals in the health insurance sector are vital links between health care providers, patients, and insurance companies. They navigate the intricate landscape of health insurance policies, claims, and benefits, ensuring that patients receive the coverage they are entitled to while health care providers are fairly compensated for their services. These experts specialize in understanding the complexities of various insurance plans, including public, private, managed care, and government-sponsored programs.

Health Care Consulting

Health care consultants are typically hired directly by health care facilities that need help with a particular aspect of their operations. For example, they may be seeking a health care consultant to help them adhere to HIPAA regulations or for a consultant to assist with budgeting or recruiting. Health care consultants have an essential role in improving operations for facilities of all scopes and sizes, making this a rewarding job for people who enjoy problem-solving and collaboration.

Health Care Data Analytics

Professionals in Health Data Analytics play a crucial role in transforming raw health care data into actionable insights that can significantly enhance patient outcomes, operational efficiency, and strategic decision-making within health care organizations. By leveraging advanced data analysis techniques and technologies, these individuals uncover patterns, trends, and correlations in vast datasets that include electronic health records (EHRs), insurance claims, and clinical trials, among others.

Health Information Management (HIM)

Health information managers are responsible for organizing and overseeing patient information, which might include sensitive health data, test results, and other medical history. These professionals, well-versed in health care privacy laws and regulations, are typically hired directly by medical facilities to protect patient health information.

Given the growing demand for health information management professionals, this could be an ideal field to explore if you enjoy working with computerized health care systems and analyzing large amounts of data. According to the BLS, the job outlook for health information technologists and medical registrars is expected to grow 16% between 2022 and 2032, much faster than the national average for all occupations.

Essential Skills and Qualifications

So, what are the necessary skills and technical qualifications for a career in health care management or administration? Ultimately, this varies based on the exact role in which you're interested. However, most hospitals and other medical facilities will be looking for applicants with an educational background in health care administration, business administration, or a similar field. This typically includes a minimum of a bachelor's degree, though more advanced roles may require a master's degree.

Those entering the health care administration or management field also need to possess solid technical and soft skills. Specifically, this includes an in-depth knowledge of health care systems, health care privacy laws, and other regulations (such as HIPAA) that can affect operations. Crucial soft skills for anyone working in health care administration or management include:

  • Excellent written and verbal communication
  • Strong leadership
  • Analytical thinking
  • Data-driven decision-making
  • Adaptability and flexibility
  • Business acumen

Because the field is constantly changing, health care management  professionals should be prepared to continue their education and training throughout their entire careers.

Trends and Challenges in Health Care Management

Ongoing education and training can help health care management professionals adapt to changing trends and obstacles as they emerge across the industry. Currently, a number of trends are affecting the business side of health care, including:

  • increased use of telehealth and other digital health care services.
  • regulatory changes affecting health care compliance and operations.

Health care managers and administrators must be quick to adapt to these changes and their associated challenges by managing rising costs, integrating technological advancements, and ensuring that patients receive the highest standard of care at all times.

The Impact of Business Roles on Patient Care and System Efficiency

There's no denying the impact of health care managers and administrators in the overarching operational efficiency of a medical facility. In many ways, they play a critical role in ensuring that facilities run smoothly while providing quality care to patients.

Without health care administrators and managers, these facilities may have a hard time adhering to compliance standards and keeping sensitive patient data secure. These professionals tackle all aspects of running a streamlined facility, from overseeing staff members to ensuring each shift is properly covered. All of this contributes to patients receiving the care they need in a timely manner while keeping facilities running profitably and sustainably.

Preparing for a Career on the Management Side of Health Care

Considering the management side of health care as a potential career path? There are some ways you can start preparing now. First, find a great degree program to help you gain the essential skills needed to succeed in this line of work. From there, take advantage of internships or other opportunities for hands-on experience and professional development.

Networking in the health care administration world can also pay off when it comes time to apply for jobs. From attending industry events to using professional online platforms (like LinkedIn) to connect with others in the field, there are plenty of ways to grow your network sooner rather than later.

Likewise, be sure to explore and weigh all your potential employment options. When most people think about working in the management side of health care, they think about hospital administration jobs. However, the reality is that private practices, insurance companies, health care consulting firms, and government agencies need experienced health care managers and administrators to help streamline their operations. There is even a growing need for professionals in health care supply chain management as medical supplies become harder (and more expensive) to come by.

Elevate Your Skills in Health Care Business and Administration

Whether hospital administration jobs or health care finance jobs, there are numerous potential career paths in health care administration and management. These roles all present their own unique challenges, but they can also be extremely rewarding—especially when you're able to step back and realize the effect of your work on improving the overall operations and quality of patient care at your facility.

If you're interested in a career in health care administration or management, then a bachelor's degree in health services management or long term care certificate from the University of Minnesota College of Continuing and Professional Studies (CCAPS) is an excellent starting point. This 120-credit program can prepare you for the reality of leading daily operations using health care management skills and industry best practices. Plus, this program is offered partially online for added convenience and flexibility.

Learn more about CCAPS's health services management program by reaching out today, or get started with your online application.