One criticism that’s often levied against the U.S. healthcare system is that even within a single facility, care is given in such a piecemeal fashion that frequently two doctors, working with the same patient, won’t know what interventions their colleague is recommending. It is the medical and health manager’s job to coordinate that care – among other duties.
Medical and Health Manager Job Description
Medical and health managers, sometimes called healthcare administrators or healthcare executives, are charged with planning, coordinating and supervising the delivery of healthcare at a number of different levels that range from a clinical department within a hospital to an entire governmental agency.
While there is no official distinction between the two terms, a “medical manager” may be thought of as someone who works in a clinical setting, while a “health manager” may be thought of as someone who works outside a healthcare facility.
Medical and Health Manager Job Responsibilities
The U.S. healthcare is huge and diverse. Job responsibilities for medical and health managers will vary depending on which part of the healthcare system they are working within.
Health Agency Administrators: At the agency level, the health manager may be responsible for planning healthcare services for broad segments of the population, including the means by which services can be financed; for evaluating new technologies; for implementing regulations and assessing their impact; and for preparing reports for other governmental entities including the legislature, as well as specifically recommending courses of action.
Assistant Medical Managers: Assistant medical manager report to the top medical manager whom they aid in a healthcare facility’s daily operations. Often an assistant medical manager will be delegated oversight over a particular department or operation within a healthcare facility.
Medical Manager of a Small Facility: Medical managers of small facilities may have fewer assistants to delegate work to, and therefore generally work in a more hands-on fashion managing daily operations, personnel, and finances.
Clinical Managers: Clinical managers are often healthcare providers like physicians or nurses who have elected to take on administrative responsibilities. Because they are experienced in the delivery of healthcare, they often oversee specific departments within a healthcare facility, planning and implementing policies, procedures and objectives; hiring and evaluating personnel; developing reports and budgets; and implementing ways to work effectively with other healthcare facility departments.
Health Information Managers: Health information managers are responsible for the accuracy, completeness, maintenance and security of the electronic database in which all patient records are kept. Recently enacted Federal legislation mandates that all paper medical records be converted into electronic records within ten years; the health information manager is responsible for seeing this is done.
Group Medical Practice Managers: The manager of a group medical practice may be responsible for planning business strategy and advising on business decisions, as well as overseeing daily operations that include hiring and supervising ancillary personnel, budget preparation, and billing and collecting.
Medical and Health Manager Training and Education Requirements
Medical and health managers are almost always graduates of four year programs; most possess graduate degrees as well. The standard educational background for these professionals is a master’s degree in either health sciences, public health, public administration, or business administration. As of 2008, 72 colleges and universities across the nation had accredited programs leading to a master’s degree in health services administration, according to the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education.
Coursework will include classes in health economics, health information systems, biostatistics, epidemiology, marketing, strategic planning, law, ethics and hospital administration.
At a minimum, clinical department managers will possess licensure or credentialing in their chosen clinical specialty and commensurate work experience. Increasingly candidates for these jobs are pursuing master’s degrees in health administration as well.
Health information managers will be graduates of accredited bachelors or masters degree programs in health information management. As of 2008, 48 colleges and universities across the nation offered bachelors degrees in health information management, while five offered masters degrees.
Medical and Health Manager Salary and Wages
Medical and health managers’ earnings vary according to the type and size of the facility, business or agency they’re overseeing, their level of responsibility, and the geographic location of the facility, business or agency. Medical and health managers who work in private industry tend to earn more than medical and health managers who work in healthcare facilities. Medical and health managers who work in the pharmaceutical industry earn the highest amount with mean hourly earnings of $72.05 and yearly gross salaries of $156,050; medical and health managers who work in nursing care facilities make the least with mean hourly earnings of $37.29 and yearly gross salaries of $77,560.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Medical and Health Manager Certifications
Certification is not a standard requirement for anyone working in this field, but the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management (AAHAM) does offer five levels of certification in the management of patient billing and accounts receivable: Certified Patient Account Manager (CPAM), Certified Clinical Account Manager (CCAM), Certified Patient Account Technician (CPAT), Certified Clinical Account Technician (CCAT), Certified Compliance Technician (CCT).
Medical and Health Manager Professional Associations
There are numerous professional associations for medical and health managers, including the American Public Health Association (APHA) at both the national and local levels, the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management (AAHAM), the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), the Professional Resources chapters of the American Medical Association, the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA), and the American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics (ASLME).