Healthcare administration is an important field of management within the healthcare industry. Administrators work in almost every area of healthcare, from public health bodies to hospitals. They are tasked with the completion and ongoing monitoring of a whole swathe of tasks. This article attempts to unpack the complex web of responsibilities behind every healthcare administration job. Before getting into the meat of the matter, it is worth underlining the kinds of qualifications and experience prospective healthcare administrators will need to have. 

Qualifications Needed 

Healthcare administrators are senior members of a team that often come from a medical or management background. Medical experience is important in the role. Because the resources and staff under the command of a healthcare administrator are primarily clinical, it will help if they have previous medical experience and a previous medical degree. 

Healthcare administration cannot usually be studied at an undergraduate level due to the experience in healthcare that an applicant will need to already possess. In most countries, healthcare administrators need to complete a relevant postgraduate degree. For some experienced medical professionals, this could be an MBA or similar business administration qualification. For most, however, the best route towards a job is going to be a degree specific to the field. An online Master’s of Health Administration course tends to cover all of the areas needed to switch from a clinical role to an administrative role.

For those that want to reach executive heights within healthcare administration, a Doctorate is usually one of the stops that must be made on the way. Doctorates in the field usually cover executive strategic planning in the healthcare industry. In the past, medical staff could rise up the ranks in healthcare administration without getting a relevant degree. Those days are over, and it appears to be more important than ever to formalize qualifications before going for an administrative role. Speaking of administrative roles, here are some of the tasks that healthcare administrators are expected to complete. 

Building and Maintaining a Team

No matter what kind of level a healthcare administrator is operating at, they will still be required to build and maintain a highly effective team. They work in conjunction with Human Resources departments in order to find the most talented staff members available. They help to develop benefits and pay packages that will keep the best team members loyal to the organization. They deal with issues staff members have regarding the structure of the business. 

Staff retention is incredibly vital in healthcare organizations. All healthcare roles involve extensive training and benefit from experience. Losing an experienced team member can seriously affect the quality of care an organization can offer – no matter how senior that team member is. Healthcare administrators need to be ready to respond to team member complaints and requests swiftly. 

Management Of a Team

Healthcare administrators need to be effective team managers that can work with a varied group of medical professionals. This is one of the areas in which the clinical experience of a healthcare administrator will come into play. Healthcare teams have complex needs based on the sheer complexity and high stress of their working environment. Without an understanding of these needs, a healthcare administrator has next to no chance of resolving issues and implementing useful structural changes. Clinical experience needs to be combined with management acumen in order for a healthcare administrator to bring their experience and skill to bear. 

Conflict Resolution

As has been mentioned already, healthcare institutions can be extremely stressful places. This can lead to conflict – between patients and staff and between different members of staff. One of the key roles assigned to healthcare administrators is that of the conflict mediator. Conflicts must be resolved swiftly in order to avoid a drop in the quality of care, the loss of staff, and damage to an institution’s reputation.

Administrators must ensure that equality and representation protocols are adhered to. These protocols are in place partly due to the conflicts that arise in cases of discrimination. Administrators must be able to effectively refer staff members to regulatory councils and tribunals if they are found to be discriminating against patients or other members of staff. Hospitals and clinics need to be safe places for people from all cultures. 

Resource Management 

Medical establishments have immensely complicated inventories that are constantly up for review. Healthcare administrators need to work carefully with medical professionals and other administrative staff members in order to keep inventories replenished. In recent years, this has involved the use of health informatics inventory software. This software collects data about the use of medicine and equipment over time and allows administrators to make accurate forecasts regarding the future usage and needs that will likely occur. Sound strategic inventory management and budgeting need to be implemented in order to avoid shortages and over-ordering. Hospitals and clinics only have a finite amount of space to store medicines and equipment, so the timing of incomings and outgoings needs to be impeccably planned. Many medicines have very specific and tight storage needs in terms of both time and storage style. This needs to be taken into account when planning an inventory management strategy. Data collected about inventory management during the coronavirus pandemic reveals that huge mistakes were made across many healthcare systems. 

Assessing Progress and Quality Indicators 

Assessing progress and quality of care in a health services provision environment is far from easy. There are so many intersecting factors that determine success that the task of actually figuring out how well a service is performing involves complicated data science and careful management. 

Healthcare administrators play a role in determining the Key Progress Indicators that hospital and clinic strategic staff use to measure success or failure. There are quite literally hundreds of different Key Progress Indicators that can be measured. Some of these are:

  • Efficiency 
  • Clinical Effectiveness
  • Mortality
  • Patient Feedback
  • Staff Feedback 
  • Safety 
  • Technology Adoption
  • Equity 

The data produced by measuring these factors can be complicated to interpret – especially when that interpretation necessarily influences changes within the structure of an organization. 

Implementing Improvements 

Implementing improvements based on the performance of an institution in key areas is also partly the responsibility of a healthcare administrator. Changes within an administration cannot be made without consultation and negotiation. Changes made without authority can damage the atmosphere of a workplace and ultimately undermine performance. Healthcare administrators have to walk a tightrope: balancing the needs of staff, patients, and strategic planners when proposing changes. 

Liaising With Strategic Planners 

Healthcare administrators are essential in the achievement of institutional strategic goals. They are the mouthpieces of both the healthcare practitioners and strategic planners within their organization and must be able to liaise between the two groups. Because of their role ‘on the ground’ in administration, they can offer sound advice to strategic planners that may have very little experience in a clinical setting. 

All hospitals, clinics, and healthcare offices have strategic plans. In the United States and Canada, these plans operate in the same fashion as any other business strategy. In the United Kingdom, France, and Scandinavia, all strategic plans for publicly owned healthcare institutions have to be subjected to governmental oversight. Working in public healthcare, an administrator must keep the broad strategic aims of a national health system in mind as well as the business-oriented strategic aims of their individual organization. 

Ensuring Compliance with Financial Regulations 

Healthcare administrators of all kinds play a large role in the compliance of an organization with financial regulations and standards. Almost all countries hold healthcare institutions to very strict financial standards. If a healthcare administrator notices phony bills, inadequate care, or mispayments, then it is their duty to make changes to the way an organization operates. 

Handling Crisis Points 

Healthcare administrators play a large part in the planning for and swift handling of crises. Healthcare organizations are prone to complex crises that can quickly spiral out of control unless handled correctly. Common issues include:

Medication Recall

Although the pharmaceutical industry has very high production standards, mistakes do happen. In the event of a product recall, a poorly prepared institution can be left without adequate stocks of medicine – resulting in a significant dip in care standards. Healthcare administrators need to ensure that stocks of reserve medication are kept on hand. 

Data Breach

Patient data is very private, and any breach of this data can be a major headache. More than 40 million patient records were compromised in the USA alone in 2021. Although cybersecurity professionals should take care of securing data, healthcare administrators need to make sure that all protocols suggested by cybersecurity staff are followed by the team members under their supervision. Human error is one of the main causes of data breaches. 

Reputational Damage 

Poor care or poor communication can result in major reputational damage. Healthcare administrators need to ensure that the causes of reputational damage are dealt with quickly. When an organization’s reputation is liable to be damaged, healthcare administrators play a role in containing that damage by amending staff and structural practices.


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