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What Do Hospital Health Care Managers Do?


Hospital healthcare managers oversee multiple departments; requiring different levels of managers to oversee a variety of functions necessary for hospital operation. Coordinating teams and implementing innovative approaches on a day-to-day basis are among a healthcare manager's most important roles for ensuring a hospital is successful and profitable.

What is Health Care Management?

To understand the impact a healthcare manager has on hospital operations, take into consideration this example. A manager overseeing the cancer unit notices that the nurses seem overly busy. By modifying the unit's phone triage and redefining the medical assistants' roles, the manager provides nurses the time they need to be more accessible for patients. Additionally, patient satisfaction improves because of the increased likelihood they would reach a person rather than an automated message when calling the hospital.

What Hospital Health Care Managers Do

Hospital healthcare managers juggle several responsibilities. They plan, direct, and coordinate other practitioners, departments, and groups. Because of the diversity of the role, healthcare managers must have strong skills in:

  • ::  Communication, problem solving, and decision-making
  • ::  Collaborating with other disciplines
  • ::  Personnel or Talent development
  • ::  Budgeting and finance

Becoming a healthcare manager necessitates holding a degree in healthcare administration. Bachelor's and Master's-level programs help those wishing to enter the field hone their abilities to meet increasing hospital standards.

Healthcare Managers can be found in a variety of settings within a hospital ranging from human resources to specialized clinical areas to general oversight. Hospital management systems require different levels of managers.

  • ::  Supervisors oversee the day-to-day activities of groups of employees. Supervisors work in specialized units within the hospital infrastructure.
  • ::  Department managers oversee entire departments in the hospital.
  • ::  Directors are the next level of management who oversee broad, system-wide activities and functions.
  • ::  Executive-level and corporate managers serve in high-level overseer roles pertaining to operations and special functions over the entire hospital or group of hospitals.

Day-to-Day Responsibilities

Healthcare managers handle business operations as well medical team needs. Depending on the manager's level, the scope of these responsibilities can change. Typically,

  • ::  On the business end, healthcare managers establish policies and frameworks, manage human resources, allocate budgets and other financial resources, submit reports, and maintain and manage IT systems and databases. This includes engaging and following up with, and drawing up contracts for vendors, suppliers, contractors, and insurance companies.
  • ::  On a medical front, managers of all levels coordinate with doctors, physicians, nurses, surgeons, health information technicians, pharmacists, and other professionals to ensure patient quality care, treatment, and rehabilitation. Managers draw up schedules and address specific needs for the entire staff with the overall focus being patient care.

Essentially, all hospital healthcare managers are involved in working with physicians, making policy decision, overseeing patient care, budgeting and accounting, and marketing among other relevant hospital activities necessary to ensure the organization functions smoothly and successfully.

Impact on Health Care Delivery

Another aspect of a healthcare manager's most important day-to-day roles is driving healthcare innovation in the hospital. Hospitals with innovative healthcare management are marked by their successes. For example, low death rates among emergency patients as the result of management-led innovation, could be such an indicator.

Departmental Coordination & Innovation

Managers can improve healthcare delivery by operating hospitals that deliver reliable, adaptable services. Importantly, managers must not only understand but also be able to coordinate and direct the following forces impacting innovation:

  • ::  Employees such as doctors, insurance companies, technology distributers, patient advocates etc. have personal interests in hospital policy and operations. A manager's aim is to coordinate these groups and guide them to focus on a common goal.
  • ::  Funding innovation is important, and managers are needed to direct the flow of funds from the various resources such as third-party investors, long-term investors, and insurers to the appropriate areas.
  • ::  Policy impacting innovation is in constant flux with new federal-wide regulations requiring rigid compliance cascading throughout the organization. Managers must not only be aware of policy updates, but they must also be able to communicate them to staff and implement them in the hospital.
  • ::  Technology innovation requires managers to exercise solid timing skills given that a hospital's infrastructure must be in place to adapt to new technologies but technologies must also be adopted before any competitive advantage in doing so is lost.
  • ::  Patients invest financially and intellectually in their own healthcare; empowered by the knowledge they can glean from the Internet pertaining to their own circumstances. Innovative managers make it a point to address the empowered patient's concerns, recognizing that savvy patients are not complacent to just take the doctor's word at face value if that conflicts with their existing knowledge.
  • ::  Accountability impacts innovation in that managers have to –in addition to overseeing the areas listed above—demonstrate effectiveness, safety, and other regulatory principles to accrediting organizations.

There are different levels and types of managers for each area of innovation. Hospital managers ranging from supervisors to overseers must work as a team to ensure that each area of hospital infrastructure is addressed comprehensively and robustly. Facilitating teamwork and collaboration are essential for managing a successful hospital.

Managing Teamwork

In addition to different levels of managers needing to work as teams, managers must also ensure the departments they oversee are capable of teamwork. Managers can influence innovative teamwork by:

  • ::  Preparing, summarizing, and formatting information for staff consumption
  • ::  Serving as a mediator between goals, strategies, and the day-to-day activities
  • ::  Promoting the implementation of innovative operational approaches

Healthcare managers oversee team initiatives, especially frontline employees. Such teams collaborate to resolve patient and work flow issues. Thus, managers bridge informational gaps which ensure that innovation reaches the right outlets. Lean healthcare management approaches, originally derived from the Toyota Production System, for example, aim toward eliminating error, expediting processes, lowering costs, and improving overall healthcare quality.

Improving Health care via Lean Management

In applying lean management strategies, big payoffs can be reaped from small innovations. For example, one hospital was able to reduce time spent in the recovery room by 28 minutes just by making a pager number more accessible, so a network of calls was not needed to reach a single individual. Other advantages brought on by lean management approaches have been:

  • ::  Lower patient bills as a result of less time spent in intensive care recovery
  • ::  Happier employees because of less perfunctory time-consuming issues to work around
  • ::  Patients have greater access to care because of shorter wait times
  • ::  Layoffs are reduced because making processes more efficient saves money that many hospitals try to recoup by reducing staffing.
  • ::  Costly events not covered by insurance that should "never" happen, like bedsores, are eliminated due to the implementation of efficient processes
  • ::  The extent to which existing resources, such as equipment and space, are used increases eliminating costly, consuming, and ultimately unnecessary construction and expansion
  • ::  Waste of resources, time, and money is reduced enabling hospitals to become profitable

Eradicating waste of all kinds is at the core of lean management approaches. Healthcare managers are needed to facilitate the implementation of these innovative approaches.

Healthcare managers of all levels and specializations are critical to guarantee a hospital functions in a competitive, effective, profitable and satisfactory manner. The Utica College online Health Care Administration Master's degree is a leadership-oriented program that prepares students for a career in this field.