8 Health Administration Careers and Specialties
In the U.S., the health care industry is in constant flux. Changes in health regulations and policies, shifts in insurance and delivery models, and the widespread adoption of health information technology influence all aspects of the health care landscape, from business to patient care. A rapidly growing consumer base has prompted officials to rethink medical services, targeting preventive medicine as a catalyst toward improved community wellness and creating opportunities for administrative health professionals to introduce innovative changes. As the medical field evolves, organizations increase the roles and responsibilities that executives must assume.
For prospective managers, now is the time to start thinking about how to take part in the health care realignment. The following eight overviews provide insight into important careers and specialties for future health care administrators.
Hospital Manager and CEO
Hospital managers and chief executive officers (CEOs) are top leaders responsible for promoting the overall mission of a hospital and overseeing its daily functions. Hospital CEOs collaborate with executives to ensure that their organizations stay on track for achieving their operational strategies and goals. Being a hospital CEO is very demanding, as these professionals are required to supervise the management of every department, stay in line with new health regulations, and ensure the profitability of their hospitals. Effective hospital managers lead with steadfast direction, aligning staff members’ goals with the organization’s. Because of their skills, care provider organizations value hospital CEOs’ abilities to maintain safe environments and strong financial health, rewarding executives with a mean salary of $232,110.
The following skills are recommended to succeed as a hospital CEO:
- Strategic planning
Health Policy and Management Administrator
Health policy and management administrators are responsible for supervising the delivery, quality, and finances required to provide health care services. Since the U.S. health care system encompasses complex laws, ethical standards, and policies and procedures, effective professionals in this specialty must be versed in a range of economic principles and be able to perform an array of administrative duties. These may involve cost reduction, cost-benefit analyses, disbursement incentives, financing, organizational payment policies, and risk analysis. Health policy and management administrators must also oversee the legal aspects of providing care, such as intellectual property, entitlement benefits, and patient privacy. On average, care provider organizations pay health policy and management administrators nearly $55,000 a year.
The following skills are recommended to succeed as a health policy and management administrator:
- Financial analysis
- Ability to research and analyze economic data
- Problem solving
- Attention to detail
Health Care Actuary
Actuaries have an in-depth knowledge of finance, mathematics, and statistics, which they use to analyze costs and assess risks for clients and their organizations. Health care actuaries utilize health data to estimate costs, test policies, and produce charts and proposals to assist health care leaders in making decisions that will have the potential to maximize profitability and minimize risk. They are commonly employed by health insurance companies, government health agencies, and medical providers, where their research is used to predict the cost of care based on family health histories, geographical locations, and changing government health policies. Rising costs associated with changes in health care regulations and delivery systems have increased the demand for actuaries, creating a potential 22 percent increase in job opportunities according to the BLS. As of 2017, actuaries across all industries earned an average salary of $101,560.
The following skills are recommended to succeed as a health care actuary:
- Mathematical skills
- Computer savvy
- Data analytics
- Statistical analysis
- Problem solving
Assisted Living Administrator
Assisted living administrators manage the day-to-day operations and business functions of assisted living facilities. They are responsible for a wide range of managerial duties, including managing the financial aspects of running a facility; overseeing the admission of new residents; handling the upkeep of the building and equipment; hiring and training new staff members; and ensuring that the workers are providing excellent care. Many professionals in this career path become Certified Assisted Living Administrators (CALA) to demonstrate their knowledge of individual state requirements and ability to hold their facilities to these standards. The BLS states that health services managers working in nursing and residential care facilities earned a median salary of $82,950 as of 2017.
The following skills are recommended to succeed as an assisted living administrator:
- Interpersonal skills
- Attention to detail
- Business management
Chief Nursing Officer
Chief nursing officers (CNO) are executives in charge of managing the entire nursing staff for a hospital or other health care organization. CNOs oversee every aspect of the nursing department from training new nursing staff members to working with hospital managers in planning and implementing patient care strategies. Other duties include managing staff schedules and evaluating nurse orientation and education programs. CNOs also supervise nursing managers and monitor the quality of patient care that their staffs provide. It is their responsibility to seek out areas for improvement and provide feedback to hospital administrators and other executives. According to PayScale, the average salary for this position is $125,413.
The following skills are recommended to succeed as a chief nursing officer:
- Critical thinking
- Organization and time management
Health Care Marketing and Public Affairs Manager
Care organizations rely on media communications to deliver messages to the community. Health care marketing and public affairs managers create these messages that build organizational brands and educate consumers about wellness. Organizations may give communications executives various titles, such as media specialists, marketing directors, or public relations managers. These executives typically have training in communications, journalism, marketing, or public relations. Experience in health care-related marketing improves employment prospects for job candidates. In the executive capacity, media and public affairs managers earn a median salary of nearly $110,000 each year.
The following skills are recommended to succeed as a health care marketing and public affairs manager:
- Interpersonal communication
- Writing skills
- Marketing strategy skills
- Ability to tell a story
Health Informatics Specialist
Health informatics technology (HIT) specialists monitor and maintain the software and equipment that health care organizations use for daily operations. Their main responsibility involves ensuring ongoing compliance with legal and organizational standards. As innovations emerge, HIT specialists evaluate and implement new software and hardware used in hospitals and other health care organizations. This may involve debugging, optimizing, and testing new components to ensure proper function in a live environment. They also take part in creating policies and procedures that guide staff members in legal and organizational compliance. On a daily basis, HIT specialists identify areas for improvement, develop organizational training initiatives, and provide technical support to staff members, while earning an average of $61,036 annually.
The following skills are recommended to succeed as a health informatics specialist:
- IT technical skills
- Attention to detail
- Analytical skills
- Interpersonal skills
Materials and Equipment Manager
Materials and equipment management administrators oversee the purchase of equipment, goods, services, and other resources for health care organizations. A manager in this discipline may be responsible for inventorying assets, ordering resources, making payments, receiving purchases, resolving payment discrepancies, and reviewing budgets. Equipment managers perform more technical duties, including contract negotiations, market analyses, purchase agreement evaluations, and strategic sourcing. Care provider organizations may also title this position as chief procurement officer (CPO) or chief revenue officer (CRO). Organizations typically hire candidates with 10 or more years of logistics experience, paying them an average of $73,302 annually.
The following skills are recommended to succeed as a materials and equipment manager:
- Problem solving
These eight health administration careers are exciting opportunities for professionals with an interest in taking on a leadership role in a health care organization. Those with financial acumen who work to develop a strategic management style can find these positions challenging and rewarding. In addition to streamlining the business side of health care organizations, health administrators make a significant difference in the quality of care patients receive and work hard to promote awareness of public health policy.
Healthcare administrators are nimble professionals who must manage their organization’s budgetary, technological, ethical, and regulatory demands while ensuring that patients receive outstanding health care. Those who wish to align their career path toward becoming a health care administrator might consider an online MHA graduate degree program like the flexible and rigorous MHA program at Regis College.
Bureau of Labor Statistics: Medical and Health Services Managers
Bureau of Labor Statistics: Actuaries
Bureau of Labor Statistics: National Industry-Specific Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates — Hospitals Becker’s Hospital Review