Healthcare Administration vs. Healthcare Management: Things to Consider

Are you weighing the key similarities and differences in a career path in healthcare administration versus healthcare management? While the job descriptions for individual positions may vary depending on the size and type of healthcare organization for which they're listed, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics groups several of these occupations under medical and health services managers.1

So what do the terms healthcare management and healthcare administration typically mean, how might they differ when it comes to post-secondary degrees, and what are some common career paths within healthcare management and administration?

What is Healthcare Management?

Healthcare management typically deals with coordinating and overseeing one or more aspects of a healthcare organization's essential operations. This could include everything from handling all administrative duties for a large hospital network to managing the technology needs of a particular department or handling information security for patient records. Because there are a number of different job titles that fall under the umbrella of healthcare management, responsibilities may vary depending on the hiring organization and their specific needs.1

What Can You Learn from a Healthcare Management Degree?

There are several options for those who want to pursue a degree in healthcare management, and their differences and similarities will largely depend on the program and institution granting the degree. Some colleges and universities may offer a Bachelor of Science or Master of Science in Healthcare Management or Administration, while others may offer a healthcare management specialization as part of their Bachelor of Business Administration or Master of Business Administration programs. (AIU offers all of the above options.)

Most of those employed as medical and health services managers have at least a bachelor's degree and master's degrees also are common.2 In these types of degree programs, students may learn to:

  • Interpret and explain concepts effectively in various healthcare organizations and situations;
  • Apply principles of economics and finance to make effective decisions in diverse healthcare settings for various contemporary healthcare practices and functions;
  • Analyze the relationships between costs, quality and access to healthcare in the United States;
  • Formulate current operations management practices and principles used in the current healthcare environment;
  • Evaluate the types of information and information systems capabilities/technology needed by healthcare organizations;
  • Evaluate potential ethical and legal conflicts in healthcare related to legislative and regulatory issues affecting healthcare.

Medical and Health Services Manager Career Paths

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics lists healthcare management and administration jobs under the category of medical and health services managers, there are a number of variations which these positions may be listed under. Job titles will depend on the organization and their specific needs, but some examples include:1

  • Clinical managers
  • Health information managers1
  • Practice administrator
  • Health manager
  • Program manager3

The BLS doesn't collect data on individual positions, but employment of all medical and health services managers is projected to grow 20% through 2026, much faster than the 7% national average for all occupations.4

What Do Healthcare Managers and Healthcare Administrators Do?

Typically, healthcare managers and administrators work closely with physicians, nurses, and laboratory technologists and technicians in order to better understand the processes and procedures that impact overall organizational efficiency. This may include developing and implementing new policies for specific departments or for an entire organization, as well as setting and monitoring quality standards and even developing instructional materials. Some health information managers may be responsible for developing and updating secure records systems as well as monitoring relevant legal regulations and appropriate information technology upgrades.1,3

Those in more administrative positions may be responsible for directing, supervising and evaluating the daily work activities of medical, nursing, technical, clerical, service, maintenance and other personnel, in addition to recruiting, hiring and training new employees as needed. Healthcare administrators may spend a significant portion of time creating work schedules and assignments for staff and monitoring workload, space and equipment availability.3 At larger institutions they may also have some financial and resource management responsibilities, such as monitoring the use of diagnostic services, in-patient beds, facilities and staff to ensure effective distribution of resources and assess the need for additional staff, equipment and services.4

Ready to learn more? Explore healthcare management degrees at AIU.

1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, "Medical and Health Services Managers: What Medical and Health Services Managers Do," on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm#tab-2 (visited October 16, 2018).
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, "Medical and Health Services Managers: How to Become a Medical or Health Services Manager," on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm#tab-4 (visited October 16, 2018).
3. O*Net OnLine, "Summary Report for Medical and Health Services Managers," on the Internet at http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/11-9111.00 (visited October 16, 2018).
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, "Medical and Health Services Managers: Job Outlook," on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-he alth-services-managers.htm#tab-6 (visited October 16, 2018). Conditions in your area may vary.

For important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attended these programs, go to www.aiuniv.edu/disclosures. AIU cannot guarantee employment or salary. Not all programs are available to residents of all states.
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