When fields of business and medicine started overlapping many decades ago, educational institutions quickly followed up by offering programs to those who are interested in both. For instance, someone who had a passion for helping people but did not see themselves becoming a doctor could now work as an administrator. Similarly, those who love the entrepreneurial side of things but want to remain within healthcare could settle for management and operation positions. Additionally, with the rise of distance learning and technological advancements, the accessibility of healthcare administration programs is only getting better. So, what are some of the most common careers that people who decide to enter this industry can look forward to?
According to Seth Whitmer, a leader and influencer who revamps healthcare organizations, the most popular career path ties to hospital executive positions. Examples include Chief Executive Officers, or CEOs, Chief Financial Officers, or CFOs, and similar. Individuals who pursue such a role will gain access to seemingly limitless leadership and authority over everyone else within the organization. By working at hospitals, however, they remain right in the epicenter of the healthcare industry where they get to affect patients through both short- and long-term strategies.
Since hospitals have one of the most complex administrative setups in the world, which include countless connections to educational facilities and insurance providers, executive roles are extremely difficult. Choosing such a high-expectation career means that one is willing to undergo constant learning and professional development.
Medical administrators, also known as office administrators, are in charge of overseeing all the managers and mid-level employees. Within the healthcare business, however, their expanded set of duties also include reviewing patient appointments, resolving scheduling conflicts, keeping track of important paperwork and data, and more. They also take part in practically every large-scale negotiation that the hospital might be involved with. For instance, if the insurance providers are subject to change, administrators could easily be the ones to handle the preliminary research and acquisition related to finding a new partner.
Office or Department Manager
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical and health service managers earned a median salary of $99,730 in 2018. That means that over 406,100 professionals that were polled were bringing in an average amount that was close to six figures. The reason why they earn such a substantial salary is that they are directly responsible for the day-to-day operations of their departments. For instance, a typical clinic manager would have to ensure that they have the right number of doctors and nurses on staff, that the supplies are ordered on time, and that patients receive outstanding care. While hospital administrators and executives certainly play a role, they are seldom connected with daily ventures of the facility so closely.
Although governmental institutions are not exactly considered to be within the healthcare industry, they are one of the popular career choices here. Besides, Seth Whitmer reminds that individuals who take these positions can perpetuate more changes than both hospital executives and administrators. Two common alternatives that exist are the lobbyist and policymaker roles. Although the term “lobbyist” sometimes carries a negative connotation, they rarely apply to healthcare professionals. This is because their main objective is to work on the legislature that would help take the healthcare industry to the next level.
While they have a similar role, policymakers do not just influence changes, they are the ones who put them into existence. These are elected officials who represent cities, counties, states, or any other geographical denomination. The background in hospital administration makes them uniquely qualified to tackle issues related to the medical insurance sector, mandatory healthcare coverage, and lack thereof.
Insurance Analyst or Negotiator
Because the healthcare sector is so closely connected to the insurance industry, professionals who want to work on the administrative side of things could easily handle negotiation or analysis tasks. More precisely, they can onboard large insurance companies to work on negotiating coverage contracts with hospitals or individuals. Doing so would usually require them to become skilled data analysts who can cross-reference historical trends with current rates to determine the most fitting quotes. Specialist for Mergers and Expansions
According to the Assistant Professor of Medicine from Harvard, Gregory Curfman, M.D., hospitals across the United States are constantly merging. After many years in the industry, Seth Whitmer attests to this point. In 2014, for instance, there was a whopping total of 95 mergers that took place between large healthcare institutions. Some of the main reasons that lead to this include higher efficiency, lower costs, better coverage, and improved quality of care.
To facilitate such a venture, however, hospitals usually have to rely on specialists who know how to handle all legal and business aspects of the merger. After all, putting two medical providers together is not as simple as signing the dotted line and sharing resources. On the contrary, a tremendous amount of planning must precede the endeavor. Healthcare administrators who work here get to use their knowledge and experience to help executives go through mergers and acquisitions in a way that is favorable for the facility, its employees, and, most importantly, the patients.
Note that people who work within this field can easily switch from one career option to another. The fact that the previously mentioned alternatives are relatively close to each other helps because it allows workers to obtain transferable skills. So, someone who has spent a decade working as a department manager could almost effortlessly transition into a hospital administrator, insurance analyst, or even a policymaker. Their degree of success will only depend on their ability to adapt to the job and meet expectations. Fortunately, folks who have enough drive to reach these stages of their career will usually not lack the ambition to go even further.