By DeVry University
If you’ve thought about pursuing a career on the business side of the healthcare industry, you may be interested to learn about the many paths that are available in health services management. Medical and health services managers handle administrative functions in all kinds of healthcare facilities.
In this article we will answer a few common questions on this topic, such as what is a medical and health services manager, what do they do and how to become a medical and health services manager.
What Is a Medical and Health Services Manager?
Medical and health services managers plan, direct and coordinate medical and health services in a broad variety of healthcare settings. In brief, they make sure medical services can be delivered with optimal efficiency, patient safety and profitability.
Careers in health services management are available in many settings, including hospitals, health systems, physicians’ offices, large group medical practices, outpatient clinics, mental health facilities, long-term and managed care facilities and nursing and retirement homes.
In a hospital, for example, medical and health services managers may oversee an entire facility or a specific clinical area or department. In a medical practice, depending upon the size and scope of the organization, they may function as the practice administrator or lead a department. As a role that combines knowledge of medical services and public health with skills in business administration, they work closely with physicians, surgeons, nurses, laboratory and clinical technicians and other healthcare professionals. They may also interact with insurance companies or other payers who operate in the healthcare revenue cycle.
The demand for medical and health services managers is expected to remain strong over the next decade. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of medical and health services managers is projected to grow 28% on a national level through 2031.1 This growth rate is much faster than the average for all occupations. About 56,000 job openings in this occupation are projected each year over this period.
According to BLS occupational outlook data, two major factors are driving this demand:
- Our aging population: As the massive baby boomer demographic group (people born between 1946 and 1964) continues to age, they will predictably experience more health needs, resulting in increased demand for healthcare services. This means an increase in the demand for physicians and administrative personnel who oversee medical information and staff.
- Electronic health records: The widespread use of electronic health records (EHRs) will continue to drive the need for medical and health services managers to organize and integrate EHRs across the healthcare industry.
Medical and Health Services Manager Job Responsibilities
As noted by the BLS, the typical duties of medical and health services managers include:
- Improving both efficiency and quality in the delivery of healthcare.
- Ensuring their facility is up to date and in compliance with regulations and licensure requirements set forth by local, state and federal governing or regulatory bodies, such as the CSA (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services).
- Creating work schedules for facility personnel.
- Managing the finances of their facility, which typically consist of patient fees and billing.
- Preparing and monitoring budgets and spending to ensure facilities or departments operate within funding limits.
- Representing the facility at investor meetings or on various governing boards.
- Maintaining and organizing records of the facility’s services.
Common Job Titles in Medical and Health Services Management
The titles held by medical and health services managers vary widely according to the type of facility in which they work, the size of the organization and their area of expertise. Here are a few examples of common health services management job titles:
Administrative Services Manager
Administrative services managers are responsible for the direction and coordination of administrative services in a care facility. Their overall goal is to achieve maximum administrative efficiency. Some of their duties might include allocating supplies, supervising payroll, record keeping, hiring and onboarding of personnel and maintaining facilities.
Typically working under the supervision of a healthcare facility’s administrator, the assistant administrator works to outline, manage and oversee the administration of care. As the job title implies, the assistant administrator’s primary responsibility is to assist the facility administrator or director in the planning, coordination and supervision necessary to ensure the smooth and efficient delivery of services. In a hospital, for example, there may be several assistant administrators who are responsible for overseeing one or more departments within the facility.
Business Office Supervisor
Business office supervisors oversee all activities in a healthcare facility’s business office. They look for ways to improve efficiency in the way the office’s regular tasks are completed and recommend changes in procedures where they see the need for improvement. Their duties may involve assisting with the hiring process, preparing work schedules, addressing patient concerns, troubleshooting and problem solving with regard to daily business office operations and participating in gathering data for financial reporting.
Health Services Manager
Health services managers plan the execution and coordination of healthcare services being provided at a care facility. Depending upon the facility’s size, they may be in charge of the entire facility or a specific area or department within it. In some cases, they manage large group medical practices.
Typical duties of the health services manager may include managing daily operations, hiring and training new employees, ensuring their facility or department is compliant with state regulations, guiding various teams through individual projects and communicating with insurance carriers.
Medical Office Manager
Medical office managers oversee the operations of a physician’s practice or healthcare facility. Their responsibilities may include hiring and training administrative staff, evaluating staff performance, staff scheduling and establishing the business office’s policies and procedures at a care facility. Tasks like managing vendors and overseeing the purchase and installation of new equipment also may fall under the direction of the medical office manager.
Medical and Health Services Manager Skills
The skills and qualifications for medical and health services managers will vary somewhat according to the specific role or position, as well as the type and size of the healthcare facility doing the hiring.
For the position of medical office manager, for example, the employment website Indeed offers a partial list of skills and qualifications that candidates might see during their job search:
- Data management and organizational skills
- Experience delegating and supervising office tasks to staff
- Clerical training and experience
- Excellent customer service skills
- Computer software proficiency
- Emotional intelligence
How to Become a Medical and Health Services Manager
If you are preparing to pursue a career in medical and health services management, it’s important to know that while job titles and job requirements are not standardized across the healthcare industry, there are some general requirements for education, experience and certifications. These will vary according to the job roles you pursue and the type of healthcare facilities or organizations doing the hiring, but here is a basic list to help you get started:
Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
According to Indeed, some employers may require candidates for medical and health services manager positions to have a post-secondary education. For this reason, the first step along your career path may be to earn a bachelor’s degree. A Bachelor’s Degree in Healthcare Administration, for example, can help you to build a broad range of skills and gain a greater understanding of the business and management side of healthcare.
Gain Work Experience
Undergraduate students can gain experience through internships, such as working as an entry-level administrator in a variety of settings. These may include community health centers, outpatient clinics, hospitals, residential care facilities or private practices. Internships, according to Indeed, can help you gain important work experience and introduce you to many aspects of what it’s like to work in a particular industry while allowing you to more fully explore your interests and identify your career goals.
Earn a Master’s Degree
Health administration professionals who’ve earned a bachelor’s degree and gained some industry experience may want to pursue higher-level positions in medical and health services management by earning a master’s degree. Coursework in our MBA with a Health Services Specialization can build on your skillset by examining the legal and ethical issues in healthcare, health insurance trends, finance and more. You’ll explore many of the high-level issues facing healthcare economics and public policy today as you prepare to pursue senior-level careers in administrative services management, health or medical services management, regulatory affairs and compliance.
Obtain Licensure and Certification
Although certification is not a requirement, industry-recognized certifications may help you position yourself favorably against other candidates.
The Professional Association of Health Care Office Management (PAHCOM), for example, offers the Certified Medical Manager (CMM) credential. CMM candidates must have at least 2 years of work experience in the healthcare industry in support of patient care and 12 post-secondary education credits related to healthcare or management.
Other certifications include:
- The American Health Information Management Association offers health information management certification.
- The American College of Health Care Administration offers the Certified Nursing Home Administrator and Certified Assisted Living Administrator distinctions.
Regarding licensure, requirements vary by state. According to BLS, all states require licensure for nursing home administrators and some states also require licensure for administrators in assisted-living facilities. In most states, administrators in these types of facilities, in addition to earning a bachelor’s degree, must complete a state-approved training program and pass a national licensing exam. Some states also require applicants to pass a state-specific exam.
For information on specific state-by-state licensure requirements, visit the National Association of Long-Term Care Administrator Boards. While a license might not be required in other areas of medical and health services management, some positions may require applicants to hold a registered nurse or social worker license.
Is a Career as a Medical and Health Services Manager Right for You?
Working in a fast-paced environment with patients, medical professionals, staff, payers and others, effective medical and health services managers need to be able to balance their day-to-day tasks with well-developed interpersonal skills. According to LinkedIn, having certain soft skills like these can give you an advantage:
- Communication: Strong communication skills, in both verbal and written form, are essential to facilitate accurate and articulate communication with patients, staff, medical professionals and others. Discretion is particularly important in the healthcare management environment to maintain compliance with health information privacy regulations.
- Planning and Time Management: Strong skills in time management and planning are also essential in this demanding environment, where you will likely be expected to be a talented multi-tasker, capable of managing deadlines with ease.
- Problem Solving: Managing conflicts, errors, mix-ups and other things that may go wrong requires managers to have excellent problem-solving skills. Good managers can anticipate problems before they occur and use creativity and efficiency to resolve issues and get things back on track.
- Technology Skills: In your role as a health services manager, you may need to learn how to use scheduling software or familiarize yourself with health information management technologies like electronic medical records. For this reason, while it’s technically not a soft skill, having some familiarity with the technology and equipment used in these applications or others may help give you an advantage.
Pursue Your Career in Medical and Health Services Management
Our online Bachelor’s Degree in Healthcare Administration with a Specialization in Healthcare Management is designed to help you prepare to play an important role in healthcare policy, managed care, information systems, insurance or finance. Better yet, you can study online or in a hybrid format.
Already have a bachelor’s degree? Grow your healthcare industry skills by earning an online MBA with a Specialization in Health Services. This specialization explores many of the high-level issues facing healthcare economics and public policy today. Our experienced faculty provide real-world examples and scenarios for a well-rounded look at this dynamic industry.
Classes start every 8 weeks.
1Growth projected on a national level. Local growth will vary by location. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm