Globalization, or the increased interdependence of countries around the world, has facilitated the growth of the healthcare management industry. This growth can be seen in data that was collected during the last two years. In 2021, the market was worth $2.05 billion, with North America being the largest healthcare management market and Asia-Pacific the fastest-growing market. In 2022, this figure rose to $2.30 billion at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.3 percent. By 2026, experts predict the CAGR for healthcare management to grow 12.4 percent with a market worth $3.67 billion.
What is healthcare management?
These figures illustrate just how significant the healthcare management industry has become, but the revenue it generates is only one aspect that should be considered; healthcare management also influences the type of care that patients receive.
In short, healthcare management refers to the function of leadership and direction given to divisions, departments, units, or services within healthcare organizations that impact their ability to provide personal health services. Within this field, there is a diverse range of jobs that include managing offices, supervising employees, managing billing and insurance, and overseeing the budget and staff of healthcare systems. For those considering healthcare management, data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals a strong demand for workers needed to fill the industry’s many roles.
Career outlook and salary
As healthcare management grows, the industry will need workers to fill the many positions expected to be a part of the 20 percent employment growth anticipated between 2016 and 2026. This equates to more than 72,000 positions being added to the industry.
The salaries for employment in this industry vary depending on the position. However, median salaries for healthcare managers are just over $98,000, with the salaries on the low end being around $58,000 and more than $176,000 on the high end. These numbers are rough estimates taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook.
Healthcare professionals typically hold a bachelor’s degree, which is the most common degree among workers in this field. However, earning an associate’s degree is probably the fastest way to enter this field, with many professionals with such a degree holding positions as functional managers or mid-level management positions. On the other end, healthcare administration executives are expected to hold a graduate degree, which requires a commitment to additional coursework.
Regardless of the required degree, students and career professionals who aspire to work in healthcare management have a few options for pursuing their degree thanks to traditional and online programs that have cropped up to meet the needs of the growing field.
In addition to numerous face-to-face degree programs, prospective students can enroll in online programs that allow professionals to earn a degree toward advancing their careers while remaining employed. Reputable institutions such as Walsh University offer an online MBA in healthcare management that can be earned in under a year.
What is good healthcare management?
Healthcare managers are found in just about every area of healthcare. While the job functions might differ, good healthcare management systems have a few key components that make it possible for managers to successfully deliver healthcare to patients. Here is a look at some of the most important qualities of good healthcare management systems.
They advocate for their patients
These systems make sure that patients know what help is available to them. Sometimes a patient does not understand important aspects of their care, when to share certain information with others, and with whom they should share information. More importantly, healthcare management systems that advocate on behalf of patients should make sure they understand the procedural part of receiving healthcare, including processes and finances.
A good example of patient advocacy can be seen in the case of a patient who needs some type of medical equipment to remain independent, such as a power chair. The process of obtaining equipment can be quite involved, so the healthcare management system should step in to assist the patient in acquiring equipment. This might involve completing paperwork, speaking with the equipment company about the functionality of the equipment, and working with the insurance company, among other activities.
They integrate patient data platforms
Although electronic medical records (EMR) have streamlined storing and accessing patient information, some healthcare organizations still grapple with making patient information accessible to all care providers. Some organizations still rely on multiple EMR systems, with each system being used in a different area. The problem with using multiple platforms is that it can prevent healthcare providers throughout the organization from seeing the whole patient picture.
A good healthcare management system makes it possible for all stakeholders in providing care to access information about the patient from a central database. A good system provides care providers with information in real time, which can be useful in the case of a patient who has been discharged to a specialized center. Upon being admitted, the care provider needs access to real-time information to develop a therapy plan.
They inspire leadership support
The leaders of any organization will be involved in setting budgets and making critical decisions. Healthcare managers rely on the support of administrators in implementing policies and equipment that improve care. Without this support, healthcare managers may be presented with obstacles in carrying out the activities needed to deliver care.
At the same time, healthcare managers must illustrate that their initiatives are worthy of consideration. Successful healthcare management systems are proactive in communicating with leadership, such as holding regular meetings to keep leadership abreast of activities going on in their departments. Another way that healthcare managers demonstrate their ability to deliver outcomes is by launching a pilot program with a few patients and discussing the results with leaders if the program is successful.
They engage the healthcare community
An important part of the big picture is engaging the patient community. While nurses and physicians are at the frontline of healthcare, managers spend more time with patient information and data. Removed from the actual human being, managers face being out of touch with current patient trends.
Good healthcare management systems get to know the patients they serve. Going beyond simply accessing information regarding their present physical condition or claims information, these healthcare managers know their patients’ likes, dislikes, hobbies and family. Some organizations have implemented care management systems to facilitate this.
Care management systems can be designed to get involved with patients when they are acting outside of their normal character. Their care manager and a social worker can then determine the source of the patient’s change in disposition – for example, neglect, abuse, and depression or anxiety. This type of care management system takes into consideration the patient’s entire health picture and collaborates with others in social service to learn more about the patient to provide better-quality care.
Qualities of good healthcare managers
Good healthcare managers have a passion for the industry. They possess a desire to assist others, and more importantly, they are interested in creating a positive, healthy setting for patients and staff. This passion extends to having compassion for patients, which means that all decisions they make and activities related to the healthcare setting focus on the patient and delivering quality patient care.
Healthcare managers deal with a lot of people outside of patients and hospital staff. This means they need excellent interpersonal skills to help them navigate professional relationships in the healthcare setting. These interpersonal skills are useful in delegating responsibilities to team members, which is another important quality of healthcare managers. The work of healthcare management is vast, requiring managers to communicate and train others to take on tasks and roles within the organization.
All leaders come across problems in the course of their work, and healthcare managers are no exception. Healthcare managers solve problems, and they can be as simple as getting a nurse’s shift covered or as complex as helping a patient navigate their healthcare benefits. Some of the more complicated problems involve dealing with shortages in the healthcare center. Professionals with good problem-solving skills are adept at thinking logically to address the myriad of issues healthcare organizations face.
The bottom line
Healthcare provides numerous new and exciting possibilities for its professionals. As the healthcare industry grows, organizations will be looking to their management teams to find innovative solutions to the complex problems faced in medicine today. Organizations that can deliver results in terms of patient care, quality, and outcomes have mastered the above attributes to be effective. The organizations that have better patient outcomes are largely those that have placed patients at the center of their platform.
This focus on the patient should be seen at all contact points in the healthcare community. Whether they are dealing with social services, leadership, the community or the patient, healthcare managers and their systems engage in activities and implement policies that contribute to a positive environment. More importantly, by establishing a strong foundation centered on the patient, the healthcare organizations they belong to can deliver care more effectively and efficiently.