What Is Health Administration? Becoming a Key Leader in Care

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A health care administrator discusses organizational changes with a staff member.

As the number of hospitals, urgent care clinics, and freestanding emergency rooms continues to grow, more health administrators are needed to direct the departments in those organizations. Health administration provides the ongoing management of health care facilities, staff, and projects. Health care administrators supervise the activities of various departments, from finance and insurance to patient care and facility operations.

Nurses and physicians, as well as those who want to enter the profession without a medical degree, can attain a Master of Health Administration to put them in the position to lead in hospitals, clinics, and other health care facilities. This degree gives professionals the credentials and the knowledge needed to serve as key resources to health care facility employees and C-level executives. Read on to learn more about health care administrators.

Keeping Health Care Facilities Running Efficiently

Health care administrators provide health care staff with the technological, financial, and organizational infrastructure needed to perform their duties and maximize positive patient outcomes. Below is a list of common health care administrator functions.

Technology in Health Administration

Health administrators evaluate and implement technological systems that capture patient health data and keep medical records private. Collecting data on patients through new diagnostic technologies helps physicians and nurses make informed clinical care decisions. Health administrators must keep in mind that patient health records are protected by state and federal regulations. As such, their organizations’ electronic health record (EHR) systems are subject to audits to maintain compliance. Health administrators should ensure their analysts keep track of these regulations.

Financial Oversight

Some health care administrators are in charge of the economic decisions of a department, clinic, or organization. This responsibility requires an understanding of accounting principles as well as financial analysis and reporting so they can make sound decisions or recommendations in the best interest of patients, employees, and business. These fiscal duties could range from managing departmental budgets and payroll issues to overseeing insurance claims and collection.

Quality of Care

The quality of health care patients receive is central to any health care organization, and administrators can find themselves at the nexus of care delivery, cost of care, patient-to-staff ratios, and more. Organizations can make adjustments to care quality based on the analysis of reports, which may include data on patient satisfaction and safety, facility utilization, and treatment efficacy.

Developing the Skills a Health Administrator Needs

The Regis College online Master of Health Administration program features courses designed to help students develop the skills, expertise, and professional connections to expand their career options. Students can expect training in the following skills:

  • Leadership. Leadership enables health care administrators to motivate people to collaborate and achieve objectives, such as meeting patient health goals or staying within financial constraints without compromising care. New leaders should understand that leadership and management are complementary skills, where the former is inspirational, and the latter is more supervisory. Health care administrators provide health care employees with direction, oversight, and support.
  • Strategic planning. Administrators in health care facilities are often called on to leverage their expertise and experience to create proposals for an organization that improve its workflow strategy, bottom-line outcomes, and, most importantly, quality of care. Practiced administrators know the structural value of even the smallest improvements, such as a change to a nurse or physician rotation schedule.
  • Critical thinking. Critical thinking involves research, reasoning, and deduction to make sound decisions. Health administrators should have an understanding of the benefits of an impartial analysis of both data and intra-organizational conflicts. In turn, they can provide solutions to these problems with confidence and fairness.
  • Professional and interpersonal communication. Health care administrators serve as a liaison between hospital staff and executives, communicating the concerns of one group to the other. As such, these professionals need to carefully balance priorities, measure tension, and provide clarity wherever possible. Administrators need to be receptive to new ideas and frustrations, no matter the source. Communication skills are also useful when leading a team or department, as well as in getting buy-in from other managers.
  • Technical competency. As previously noted, so much of health care depends on technology, not only for examining patients but also for billing systems and patient records. An enhanced understanding of software and networking support systems can give health administrators a boost toward career advancement.

Health Administration Online Courses

Students who enroll in Regis College’s online Master of Health Administration will find a range of opportunities to hone the skills listed above. The following courses are a sample of the curriculum:

Health Care Quality Management. Students in this course learn to measure how health care quality has improved. They study continuous quality improvement (CQI), patient security, and how to quantify levels of care. They also learn how to apply leadership skills in the context of organization-wide health care quality changes.

Economics of Health Care. This course examines how market forces affect the prices of treatment and how those costs are distributed among insurance companies, health care organizations, and patient responsibility. The Management Accounting in Health Care course listed below complements this course by teaching accounting principles on which to further analyze the fiscal health of the organization and make recommendations.

Health Information Systems. Technical competency is necessary to understand and implement information systems in a health care setting. Topics in this course include how to employ evidence-based health care; the distinctions between clinical and administrative software and when to use each type; electronic health records, with an emphasis on confidentiality and data protection; telehealth and the infrastructure required; and how to apply bioinformatics in patient care.

Management Accounting in Health Care. In addition to teaching the fundamentals of health care management accounting, this course instructs students in financial analysis and creating reports for internal and external audiences. Students also develop the advanced professional communication skills needed to convey data points and conclusions to stakeholders.

Discover the Regis College MHA Program

Becoming a health administrator requires a broad skill set and technological proficiency, and there is a growing need for this line of work. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the employment of medical and health services managers to grow by 20% from 2016 to 2026. Those hoping to become agents of change for health care organizations by providing quality leadership need to develop their skills. Learn how Regis College’s online Master of Health Administration can help you achieve that goal.


Recommended Readings

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

Expand Your Health Care Administration Skills by Earning an MHA

Types of Health Care Administration Jobs for MHA Graduates


AHRQ, Six Domains of Health Care Quality

American Optometric Association, “What Is Evidence-Based Health Care?”

American Public Health Association, Health Administration

Balanced Scorecard Institute, “Strategic Planning in the Healthcare Industry”

The BMJ, “How Does Leadership Differ from Management in Medicine?”

Regis College, Online Master of Health Administration

The Urgent Care Association, 2018 Urgent Care Industry White Paper

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