What Is health administration?

June 12, 2017

Health administration is the practice of managing, leading, overseeing, and administering the operation of dynamic, complex health care entities including hospitals, long-term care facilities, health care systems, nursing homes, pharmacies, and health insurance providers.

Health administrators are the operational leaders who guide health care organizations through growth and change.

Julia Beresford, DHA, faculty member in Capella University’s School of Business, Technology, & Health Care Administration, outlines the job duties and requirements for health administrators today.

Q. What skills are needed for a career in health administration?

    A. The skills required to be an effective health care administrator include:

  • Empathy/Emotional intelligence. From dealing with patients, their families, and staff members, sensitivity to others’ needs is vital to patient outcomes and organizational success.
  • Integrity. Administrators must be prepared to deal ethically with physicians, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and medical equipment companies to achieve the best outcomes.
  • Business acumen. Administrators must be business-oriented to meet financial and productivity goals of their organization.
  • Change management. The health care industry is regularly updating policies and technologies. Administrators must be aware of these updates and prepared to incorporate them into daily practice.
  • Communication. Administrators must be equipped to communicate effectively with staff, patients, the family of patients, and other executives.
  • Relationship management. Good customer relationship management is necessary for health care facilities to improve their bottom line and achieve their mission.
  • Strategic thinking. Health care administrators must have the ability to see their facility from a broad perspective, conceptualizing, setting goals, predicting outcomes and potential issues, and developing long-term plans.
  • Awareness of diversity. Health care facilities help patients of diverse ethnicities and backgrounds, so health care administrators must be aware of any cultural or economic barriers to quality care and how to deal with them.

In addition, a well-rounded health care administrator will have knowledge and/or experience in the following areas:

  • Revenue cycle
  • Admissions
  • Billing, budgeting, and finance
  • Case management
  • Utilization
  • Payer contracting
  • Strategic management
  • Strategic leadership
  • Culture and mission
  • Quality assurance
  • Performance improvement
  • Regulatory oversight
  • Patient safety and risk management

Q. What career opportunities are available with a degree in this field?

    A. Depending on your specialization, related job titles to explore* with a BS in Health Care Administration include:

  • Clinic/practice administrative manager
  • Medical and health services manager
  • Health information management abstractor
  • Patient registrar

Related job titles to explore* with a Master of Health Administration (MHA) include:

  • Clinic manager
  • Department or division director
  • Health services manager
  • Hospital administrator
  • Medical records manager
  • Director of health care quality
  • Compliance officer
  • Clinical utilization manager

Related job titles to explore* with a Doctor of Health Administration (DHA) include:

  • Chief executive officer
  • Chief operations officer
  • Clinic director
  • Department or division director
  • Health services manager
  • Hospital administrator
  • Director of health care quality
  • Clinical utilization manager
*These are examples intended to serve as a general guide. Because many factors determine what position an individual may attain, Capella cannot guarantee that a graduate will secure any specific job title.

Q. What do the daily responsibilities of a health administration professional look like?

    A. Daily operations in health administration might include:

  • Overseeing department operations.
  • Focusing on quality, safety, risk, and compliance.
  • Staff management such as payroll, staff relations, HR matters, etc.
  • Leadership activities that include mentoring, troubleshooting, serving as an organizational culture ambassador, engaging staff, etc.
  • Financial oversight of budgeting, finance, and revenue cycle.
  • Driving organizational strategy and vision.
  • Serving as a resource to staff, patients, visitors, and other internal and external stakeholders.
  • Business development and marketing.
  • Tracking quality indicators, analyzing and reporting quality outcomes.
  • Ensuring patient care is delivered per policy, regulation, and law.

Q. What type of individuals will be a good fit?

    A. Individuals who are career-focused and ambitious, have high emotional intelligence, and are receptive to change. They should be     able to prioritize and function in a fast-paced environment, possess technical skills, and have a lot of patience.

Capella offers the following health administration programs:

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