Beyond Clinical Care: Exploring the Economics of Health Care

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Health care administrator discusses financial issues.

As the health care field expands, the need for educated and efficient administrative leaders becomes ever more vital. Health care administrators oversee hospitals, emergency rooms, clinics, and other medical facilities. These experts in policy and business manage the medical staff, the finance and insurance departments, and many challenging aspects of their field, including the economics of health care. They devise comprehensive, financially efficient health care strategies to move toward the goal of delivering care that potentially improves patient outcomes.

Registered nurses, physicians, or administrators aspiring to attain a leadership position in health care can acquire the knowledge and skills they need by earning an online Master of Health Administration. This degree program allows students to develop an understanding of the economics of health care and cultivate the fundamental skills needed to be effective leaders in the field.

Defining the Economics of Health Care

Economics in health care encompasses the values, financial efficiency, and effectiveness of the field. Health care is built upon stable economics. By weighing cost analysis and allocating resources, administrators provide optimal health services and care. Administrative leaders also weigh the costs and benefits of production to stabilize their organizations.

The concept of economics in health care changes as health care evolves and expands. It is important for administrative leaders to understand what currently affects their industry and what will affect it in the future. One constantly changing factor is health care policy. Policies continuously change the way a population can access services, altering the quality and equity of health care. They can create long-term goals that have many short-term effects on public health. Administrators must be able to navigate the legal complexities of policies to make informed decisions for their medical facilities.

Health care administrators should also be aware of projected influences, such as the aging baby boomer population. According to the Pew Research Center, about 10,000 baby boomers will retire every day until 2030. The retirement of over 20% of the U.S. population will greatly affect the health care industry. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the employment of medical and health services managers to increase by 18% between 2018 and 2028 to meet the growing demand for medical care.

Other industries, such as pharmaceuticals, have an effect on the economics of health care and care delivery strategies. The pricing of drugs, for example, affects patients, health care payers, insurers, and manufacturers, as well as the doctors who prescribe them. Administrators must understand and navigate the intricacies of pharmaceutical pricing as part of the economics of health care.

How Administrators Handle Health Care Economics

Health care administrators manage the economics of health care by devising key strategies for providing financially efficient, high-quality care. While they do not interact with patients directly every day like doctors and nurses do, administrators play just as vital a role by organizing and maintaining the structures that hold the medical facilities together. Administrators engage with other professionals and oversee administrative assistants to ensure the delivery of health care services. They manage finances large and small, such as monitoring overhead costs and billing. They communicate with the different heads of departments, creating schedules for the medical staff. They also maintain the records of patients in their hospitals, clinics, and facilities.

As the health care field changes over time, administrators must be able to devise strategies in an evolving landscape. They will not only manage their individual facilities but also address legal and political challenges. Administrators will navigate ethical and financial dilemmas and ensure the moral and fiscal health of their organizations. Health administrators will also need to analyze data and statistics to manage the business aspect of health care. They should be familiar and comfortable with operational and organizational management, as they will be responsible for accounting and making economic decisions.

The Skills of Effective Health Care Administrators

A variety of skills are fundamental to health care administration and its oversight of the economics of health care. To carry out economic management, health care administrators should have the following skills:

  • Leadership
  • Financial planning
  • Interpersonal and professional communication
  • Technical competency
  • Analytical thinking
  • Attention to detail and organization
  • Ethical decision-making

One of the most important skills in an administrative role is leadership. Aspiring health care administrators can pursue an advanced degree such as the Regis College online Master of Health Administration to develop their leadership abilities and other core skills necessary for their career. The curriculum revolves around honing students’ technical, analytical, and financial competencies. After taking such courses as Management Accounting in Health Care and Health Information Systems, graduates will be prepared to manage the practical economics of health care in their chosen professional setting.

Learn More

As the medical field continues to evolve and expand, the demand for capable and efficient administrators grows as well. Health care administrators impact the lives of patients through managing the economics of health care. Learn more about how Regis College’s online Master of Health Administration program can help you develop the key skills you need to excel in a health care administration role.


Recommended Readings

Expand Your Health Care Administration Skills by Earning an MHA

What Health Administration Professionals Need to Know About the Future of Health Care

What Is Health Administration?


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Public Health Economics

CNBC, Health-Care Dilemma: 10,000 Boomers Retiring Each Day

Forbes, “America’s Broken Health Care System: The Role of Drug, Device Manufacturers”

Forbes, “Social Security Feels Pinch As Baby Boomers Clock Out For Good”  

Regis College, Online Master of Health Administration

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Medical and Health Services Managers