What Do Hospital Health Care Managers Do?

To understand a healthcare manager’s impact on hospital operations, consider this example: A manager overseeing the hospital’s cancer unit notices that nurses seem overly busy.

The manager then modifies the unit’s phone triage and redefines medical assistants’ roles, guaranteeing nurses have the time they need for patients, ensuring people who call in speak to a human being instead of an automated system and increasing overall patient satisfaction.

This is just one example of how a healthcare manager can harness strong communication skills and decision-making abilities to improve how a hospital operates.

Day-to-Day Responsibilities

In general, hospital healthcare managers juggle several responsibilities, including planning, directing, and coordinating other practitioners, departments, and groups.

They work in a variety of hospital settings, ranging from human resources to specialized clinical areas. They must collaborate across disciplines, manage an organization’s budget and finances, and lead talent development.

Healthcare managers handle business operations as well medical team needs. The scope of these responsibilities can change depending on a manager’s level, with levels including:

  • Supervisors who oversee the day-to-day activities of teams of employees
  • Department managers who oversee entire departments
  • Directors who oversee systemwide activities and functions
  • Executives who oversee an entire hospital or a group of hospitals

All hospital healthcare managers work with physicians, make policy decisions, oversee patient care and budgeting and accounting, and lead marketing efforts to ensure their organization functions smoothly.

Departmental Coordination & Innovation

Managers can improve healthcare delivery by operating hospitals that deliver reliable, adaptable services. They must understand and direct the following forces that impact innovation:

  • Multiple Stakeholders: A manager's aim is to coordinate a variety of stakeholders and guide them to focus on a common goal. Employees such as doctors, insurance companies, technology distributors, patient advocates, etc., all have personal interests in hospital policy and operations.
  • The Flow of Funding: Funding innovation is important, and managers direct the flow of funds from third-party investors, long-term investors, insurers, and other sources to the appropriate areas.
  • Ever-Changing Policy: Policy impacting innovation is in constant flux with new federal regulations requiring rigid compliance. Managers must not only know about policy updates, but also communicate them to staff and implement them in the hospital.
  • New Technology: Technology innovation requires managers to exercise solid timing, given that a hospital's infrastructure must adapt to new technologies. In addition, technologies must be adopted before any competitive advantage is lost.
  • Empowered Patients: 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 demonstrate effectiveness, safety, and other regulatory principles to accrediting organizations.

A healthcare manager may drive innovation in hospital processes and see tangible results in patient care. For example, low death rates among emergency patients might indicate managerial innovation.

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Managing Teamwork

Facilitating teamwork and collaboration are essential for managing a successful hospital. Managers can influence innovative teamwork by:

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

Healthcare managers oversee team initiatives, especially frontline employees. Such teams collaborate to resolve patient and workflow issues. Thus, managers bridge informational gaps that ensure innovation reaches the right outlets.

Improving Health Care Via Lean Management

Lean healthcare management approaches, originally derived from the Toyota Production System, aim to eliminate error, expedite processes, lower costs, and improve healthcare quality.

In lean management strategies, big payoffs may come from small innovations. For example, one hospital reduced time in the recovery room by 28 minutes just by making a pager number more accessible. Lean management may also lead to results like these:

  • Happier employees with fewer perfunctory, time-consuming issues to work around
  • Patients having greater access to care because of shorter wait times
  • Layoffs being reduced because making processes more efficient saves money
  • Costly events not covered by insurance that should never happen, including bedsores, are eliminated by efficiency
  • 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.

Utica College’s online Health Care Administration Master's degree is a leadership-oriented program that prepares students for a career in this field.