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Healthcare Administration vs. Healthcare Management

Oct 4, 2023

There is often confusion between healthcare administration and healthcare management, and it is not uncommon for people to use these terms interchangeably. However, while these two fields share some similarities, they are quite different in their scope and responsibilities. If you're interested in learning more about either profession and finding out which could be an excellent fit for your goals, keep reading.

What Is Healthcare Administration?

Healthcare administration is a diverse field of work crucial to functioning healthcare facilities and delivering quality patient care. It involves coordinating healthcare organizations’ operational and administrative aspects, from overseeing financial practices to implementing policies and procedures. In addition to contributing to overall efficiency and effectiveness, healthcare administrators play a vital role in ensuring that healthcare facilities are equipped with the resources necessary to provide high-quality medical care. 

What Is Healthcare Management?

Healthcare management is a vital aspect of the healthcare industry that focuses on the organization and leadership of healthcare facilities and services. It involves ensuring that healthcare providers and facilities are operating efficiently and effectively to deliver the best possible care to patients. Healthcare management professionals are responsible for overseeing staffing, scheduling, and patient care standards as well as implementing policies to ensure compliance with regulatory laws. They play a critical role in managing the various daily aspects of their organizations while also ensuring that their organizations are delivering high-quality care.

Key Differences between Healthcare Administration and Healthcare Management

While a healthcare manager primarily oversees the day-to-day operations of a healthcare facility, a healthcare administrator is tasked with supervising the big-picture strategy of the organization. Administrators are responsible for creating policies, managing budgets, implementing new programs, and developing long-term plans for the facility's growth and success. In short, while healthcare managers are focused on the present, healthcare administrators are focused on the future.

Skill Differences between a Healthcare Administrator and a Manager

Healthcare administrators are responsible for overseeing the business operations of a healthcare facility, including budgets, policies, and personnel management. They require the following skills:

  • Business acumen: Healthcare administrators must have a good understanding of business principles and practices in order to help their organization succeed. This includes accounting, marketing, strategy, and risk management.
  • Financial management: Healthcare administrators must also have a thorough understanding of financial management principles in order to effectively manage the financial resources of a facility. This includes budgeting, accounting, and managing revenue streams such as insurance reimbursements and grants.
  • Strategic planning: Healthcare administrators must be able to develop long-term strategies for their organization that are aligned with its mission and goals. This requires an understanding of industry trends, competitive analysis, and the ability to identify opportunities for growth and improvement.
  • Technology: Healthcare administrators must stay up to date on the latest trends in technology in order to ensure that their organization is using the most efficient systems for managing data, communicating with patients and providers, delivering care services remotely, etc. They should also be familiar with digital health tools such as electronic medical records (EMRs) systems or telemedicine platforms.

Healthcare managers focus on the day-to-day operations of a healthcare facility, such as staffing, scheduling, and patient care. They must possess the following skills:

  • Leadership: Healthcare managers must be able to motivate staff, resolve conflicts, collaborate, and make decisions that are in the best interest of their organizations. Through their ability to lead, healthcare managers inspire confidence in their teams and provide the necessary vision and guidance to drive positive change.
  • Regulatory knowledge: Healthcare managers must also have a good understanding of relevant policies and laws to ensure compliance with governmental regulations. This includes knowledge of HIPAA privacy regulations, Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement policies, accreditation standards, and more.
  • Interpersonal skills: Interpersonal skills are essential for healthcare managers since they often need to interact with patients, families, staff members, vendors, and other stakeholders on a daily basis. Managers accomplish this in a variety of ways, from effective communication and active listening to fostering a positive workplace culture.
  • Problem-solving skills: Healthcare managers must also possess strong problem-solving skills in order to address any issues or challenges that may arise within their department. This includes being able to identify problems quickly and propose creative solutions that will help the organization move forward efficiently and effectively.

Role Differences between Healthcare Administrator and Manager

A healthcare administrator is often responsible for managing an entire facility or healthcare system. They hold a broader role and are responsible for developing strategies that support patient care, managing budgets, and ensuring regulatory compliance. Meanwhile, a healthcare manager is typically responsible for overseeing a specific department within a healthcare facility and ensuring that it runs efficiently. They are primarily focused on daily operations and may participate in decision-making for their department.

Education and Career Path Differences between Healthcare Administration and Management

The academic and professional requirements also differ for these two healthcare career paths. A healthcare administrator typically needs a master's degree in healthcare administration, while a healthcare manager may only need a bachelor's degree in healthcare administration, healthcare management, or a related field.

The career advancement opportunities between the two roles are also noticeable. As a healthcare administrator, you may have more opportunities to advance into positions such as CEO or COO, while healthcare managers may have opportunities to become directors of specific departments or even transition into clinical roles. Regardless of the role you choose, both positions offer fulfilling careers with plenty of room for growth and development.

Salary Prospects and Job Outlook

If you're considering a career in healthcare administration or management, the salary prospects are quite promising. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for either profession is around $104,830. Of course, this figure could vary based on your location, experience, and the type of organization you work for.

The demand for healthcare services will continue to rise in the upcoming years. As a result, there is expected to be an increase in the number of healthcare facilities and organizations, which will require skilled administrators and managers to oversee the operations and ensure quality patient care. In addition, advancements in medical technology mean that healthcare professionals are also needed to navigate the ever-changing healthcare policies, regulations, and laws.

Learn More

If you're looking to break into healthcare administration or management, WGU could be your starting point. WGU’s Leavitt School of Health offers a range of accredited undergraduate and graduate healthcare management and administration programs, which are all designed to give you the skills and knowledge you need to thrive and advance in the field. Plus, with courses offered online and no set log-in times, you can fit your education around your work and family obligations. Whether you're looking to take your first steps toward a healthcare career or want to advance your existing job, WGU could be the key to unlocking your potential in this in-demand industry.

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