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Healthcare Administration vs. Healthcare Management


By DeVry University

September 30, 2021
7 min read

On the surface, healthcare administration and healthcare management seem relatively similar. Both roles work within care facilities like hospitals and doctor's offices. They also provide administrative support and help to ensure that patients receive the highest level of care possible while ensuring that the facility remains financially stable.

However, despite these similarities, there are several key differences that separate these fields. In this article, you'll learn about these two healthcare professions as we provide a detailed definition of each.

We'll also take a look at the projected outlook for careers in healthcare and share some information that you may find useful if you’re looking to work toward a career in either the healthcare administration or healthcare management fields:

Healthcare Careers Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare occupations as a whole are expected to grow on a national level by 16% between 2020 and 20301, adding roughly 2.6 million new jobs.

In another article related to medical and health services managers in particular, the BLS cites that these occupations are expected to see a 32% increase on a national level2 within the same timeframe.

Healthcare Administration Detailed Definition

Healthcare administration is a subfield of healthcare related to the administration and delegation of healthcare systems and services. Professionals in this field provide assistance with insurance, healthcare financing and perform the necessary behind-the-scenes work that allows care providers to carry out their duties efficiently and properly.

People who work within this field may have many different job titles, and can often be referred to as "healthcare administrators" or "hospital administrators." This term encompasses professionals who work to control the flow of how care is provided, paid for and managed within the facility.

Further defining the hospital administrator term, there are two groups within hospital administration: generalists and specialists. Generalists help manage the facility as a whole, while specialists make large-scale decisions based on particular departments or services within healthcare systems.

The healthcare administration field evolved as the greater field of healthcare became more capable of providing care to a large number of people. Oftentimes in the past, nurses were in charge of administrative duties. As the number of patients increased, nurses were moved into a more patient-facing role and hospital administrators were hired to balance the financial needs of a care provider facility with the needs of patients. Thanks to administrators, our healthcare system has become more efficient and better able to positively contribute to the lives of more people.

Healthcare Management Detailed Definition

Healthcare management, which is often confused with healthcare administration, involves setting and meeting budgets, identifying the goals of practitioners within the facility, managing relationships with insurance providers and overseeing key business aspects of the facility in a way that meets the needs of the public.

Some other duties performed by healthcare management professionals include speaking to media regarding public health concerns, setting goals for the facility and outlining plans that administrators will execute. Much like managers within a retail or business setting, healthcare management professionals play a role in employee evaluation, relationship building with insurance companies, human resources concerns and billing.

The healthcare management field is not solely restricted to these types of front-end management tasks. It can also include keeping tabs on the back-end of a care facility. They may oversee the maintenance of databases that hold patient information. These databases need to balance a high level of security concern with a need for rapid, efficient access to information for relevant parties. Healthcare managers may also work to make the data collection process more efficient.

In short, those who work in healthcare management help hospitals, clinics or other care facilities running as smoothly and efficiently as possible even when things are busy.

Key Differences between Healthcare Administration and Healthcare Management

Looking at these definitions, it's not hard to see why healthcare administration and healthcare management are easy to mix up. The problem is further compounded when you consider that some care facilities and regions use the terms interchangeably.

Despite these similarities, the differences become clear when we look at the responsibilities healthcare administration vs. healthcare management. In its simplest form, managers run the business side and overall operation of a facility while the administrators function within a support role that tend to deal more with day-to-day elements.

Healthcare managers are in charge of the overall operations of the facility. They can determine when staff needs to be hired, when new equipment needs to be purchased or even when a new hospital wing might need to be built. Healthcare managers are concerned with the big picture. They spend much of their time analyzing the care facility to ensure its efficiency. When something is identified as inefficient or in need of improvement, they create a plan to improve the inefficient area. The actual execution of that plan is typically handled by someone within the field of healthcare administration.

An administrator primarily works to support the employees within the facility. They may also work on tasks like billing, maintaining medical records, scheduling or managing maintenance for the facility, among other things.

To add another example, it's helpful to think of a care facility's employees as a line with three nodes. The first node represents the care providers themselves, the doctors, surgeons, nurses and anyone else who interacts with patients. The central node represents healthcare administration, and the final node represents healthcare management. Using this visual, you can see how care providers raise concerns to administration, who then pass it along to management. Management then develops a plan that is executed by administration, improving the ability of care providers to assist patients.

Steps to Launch Your Career as a Healthcare Administrator or Healthcare Manager

If you're interested in pursuing a career in healthcare administration or healthcare management, it may be a good idea to evaluate your goals, and what steps you may have to take to start working toward achieving them. Your self-evaluation may include:

  1. Choosing an area of focus:

    Before you begin building your credentials and skills, you need to evaluate whether you would like to work in healthcare administration or healthcare management. To recap the differences, healthcare administration can help put you closer to care providers and enables you to help them directly by executing plans that contribute to more efficient, effective care. Healthcare management involves making high-level decisions and is more business focused.

  2. Enroll in a healthcare administration or management program:

    To prepare to pursue a role in either field, you need to develop your skills. At DeVry University, for example, our Bachelor’s Degree in Healthcare Administration with a Specialization in Healthcare Management can help you develop a foundation in business skills, healthcare knowledge and finance so you can prepare to pursue administrative roles within the healthcare field. With our Specialization in Healthcare Management, you’ll learn skills to help you learn how to approach managed-care, financing and the delivery of healthcare services in the U.S., as well as how to manage corporate Human Resources.

  3. Identifying the type of job you might enjoy:

    When looking for a program, it can be helpful to consider what types of careers you might be interested in pursuing upon earning your degree. Opportunities across these fields can be broad and varied, from Healthcare Administrator and Administrative Services Manager to Health Services Manager or Admissions Coordinator.

    1. Applying for jobs:

    Now that you've found your niche, it’s time to apply for jobs. Remember, finding a job takes time and dedication. You may not start out with your chosen title right away, but working toward your goals while gaining work experience is a great place to start.  

Start Working Toward a Career in Healthcare Administration or Healthcare Management

If you're interested in pursuing a career in healthcare administration or healthcare management, we can help. Explore our Bachelor's Degree in Healthcare Administration with a Specialization in Healthcare Management, designed to help you develop skills on your schedule through classes offered 100% online.

1 Growth projected on a national level. Local growth will vary by location.
2 Growth projected on a national level. Local growth will vary by location.

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