An effective health care delivery system improves not only an individual’s health but also the nation’s health. However, the costs of poor health in the U.S. are mounting, as employee absences because of illness cost employers $530 billion in 2018, according to the Integrated Benefits Institute.
The health care industry is responding, moving to a value-based system of delivery rather than a fee-for-service model. With their leadership, collaboration, and problem-solving abilities, health care administrators are positioned to lead the transition to the value-based model in all types of health care facilities.
What Are the Different Types of Health Care Facilities?
The U.S. health care infrastructure is a complex system of facilities, insurance plans, professionals, technologies, and more. Health care administrators look after the core facility types: hospitals, outpatient clinics, long-term care facilities, clinical labs, and hospices. These facilities collaborate to deliver high-quality health care to patients and communities.
Hospitals primarily provide diagnostic and treatment services to patients who require intensive or immediate care. Most hospitals are in-patient facilities, requiring patients to stay under the supervision of specialized health care professionals until discharged.
Hospitals are generally classified by the type of ownership, treatment, facility size, and length of a patient’s stay. The majority of them are nonprofits, typically governed by a regional health authority.
Most people are familiar with a general hospital, which admits patients for all types of medical conditions. Depending on a patient’s diagnosis, a general hospital may refer him or her to an acute care hospital, such as a cancer treatment, children’s, or maternity hospital, or to a member of the hospital’s outpatient facility network.
An outpatient clinic or facility is often for patients who need short-term care and can recover at home. Hospitals refer discharged patients to a network of outpatient clinics that specialize in services for ongoing conditions such as weight loss, drug or alcohol rehabilitation, and physical therapy.
Outpatient clinics are typically more convenient and affordable for patients as well. Day surgery centers, urgent care clinics, and specialty clinics are often in close proximity to a patient’s home, providing easier access to high-quality, non-emergency care.
Long-Term Care Facility
Long-term care facilities support people with short-term recovery, ongoing health conditions, or disabilities. They are designed to help patients complete daily activities as safely and as independently as possible.
According to a recent survey by Genworth, 7 in 10 people will require long-term care in their lifetime. Depending on their health, patients can receive in-home care through homemaker services or a home health aide. Community and assisted living facilities care for seniors who are still relatively independent, while nursing home facilities care for patients who need full-time care.
A clinical laboratory, or lab, completes diagnostic tests ordered by physicians and primary care providers. Using biological specimens, such as blood, urine, or saliva, medical technicians run tests to help diagnose, treat, and monitor a patient’s health.
Clinical lab facilities can be organized by function or test specialization. General clinical labs run common tests, while other labs, such as cancer clinics, run disease-specific tests. Test specialization facilities run diagnostic tests for a certain field, such as public health or hematology.
Hospice is another type of health care facility. A hospice facility cares for the terminally ill or people nearing the end of life. Typically, hospice care is for patients who have no more than six months to live. A team of professionals, such as physicians, nurses, spiritual advisors, and counselors, supports both the patient and the patient’s family during the transition.
Depending on the care required and cost, hospice services can be accessed in a hospice facility, at the patient’s home, in long-term facilities, or in the hospital.
How Health Care Administrators Fit in Different Facility Types
Health care administrators are responsible for leading and managing a health care facility’s business. They guide the strategy, ensuring the facility, budget, and staff can service the community’s health needs. Health care administrators also act as liaisons between facility stakeholders, such as the board of directors and regulatory bodies, and occasionally mediate disputes between patients and medical staff.
A health care administrator’s duties differ based on the type of health care facility. In a large hospital that accommodates hundreds of beds, health care administrators work with a team of leaders who oversee the daily operations of each department. In this setting, they review the budget for hiring new staff but typically won’t play an active role in hiring and training.
The type of care delivered in the facility also impacts a health care administrator’s duties. Nursing home administrators are required to be licensed in their state because of the unique care needs of their patient population. They also oversee recreational programming, work with third-party care consultants, and coordinate end-of-life care.
Health Care Administrator Skills
Health care administrators’ tasks vary daily. They may be focused on budgeting one day but writing a new facility policy the next. Health care administrators can prepare for this dynamic role by enhancing their leadership, organizational, critical thinking, and technical skills.
Health care administrators set a facility’s workplace culture. Through their leadership, they can inspire the staff to execute the facility strategy and accomplish goals. Health care administrators demonstrate their leadership through critical thinking and effective communication. They have to make sound decisions that align with the facility strategy and are based on research and reason. Administrators use technology and data analysis to support their decisions and improve health care delivery.
The reasoning behind facility decisions should be transparent to stakeholders, and health care administrators should remain open to feedback to gain trust and confidence from the facility’s community.
Lead the Health Care Facilities of Tomorrow
Professionals gain foundational skills to be a health care administrator through experience and education. Many aspiring health care administrators pursue an advanced degree to enhance their knowledge of business, leadership, and health care policy.
All types of health care facilities need administrators who are ready to lead the transition to value-based care. Learn more about Regis College’s online Master of Health Administration and how its curriculum focused on health care economics, leadership, and management can help prepare individuals for success in high-level health care administration roles.