Job Descriptions, Definitions Roles, Responsibility: Medical and Health Services Managers
Healthcare is a business and, like every other business, it needs good management to keep it running smoothly. The occupation, medical and health services manager, encompasses all individuals who plan, direct, coordinate, and supervise the delivery of healthcare. medical and health services managers include specialists and generalists. Specialists are in charge of specific clinical departments or services, while generalists manage or help to manage an entire facility or system.
The structure and financing of healthcare is changing rapidly. Future medical and health services managers must be prepared to deal with evolving integrated healthcare delivery systems, technological innovations, an increasingly complex regulatory environment, restructuring of work, and an increased focus on preventive care. They will be called upon to improve efficiency in healthcare facilities and the quality of the healthcare provided. Increasingly, medical and health services managers will work in organizations in which they must optimize efficiency of a variety of interrelated services—for example, those ranging from inpatient care to outpatient followup care.
Large facilities usually have several assistant administrators to aid the top administrator and to handle daily decisions. Assistant administrators may direct activities in clinical areas such as nursing, surgery, therapy, medical records, or health information. (Managers in nonhealth areas, such as administrative services, computer and information systems, finance, and human resources, are not included in this statement. For information about them, see the statements on management occupations elsewhere in the Handbook.)
In smaller facilities, top administrators handle more of the details of daily operations. For example, many nursing home administrators manage personnel, finance, facility operations, and admissions, and have a larger role in resident care.
Clinical managers have more specific responsibilities than do generalists, and have training or experience in a specific clinical area. For example, directors of physical therapy are experienced physical therapists, and most health information and medical record administrators have a bachelor’s degree in health information or medical record administration. Clinical managers establish and implement policies, objectives, and procedures for their departments; evaluate personnel and work; develop reports and budgets; and coordinate activities with other managers.
In group medical practices, managers work closely with physicians. Whereas an office manager may handle business affairs in small medical groups, leaving policy decisions to the physicians themselves, larger groups usually employ a full-time administrator to help formulate business strategies and coordinate day-to-day business.
A small group of 10 to 15 physicians might employ 1 administrator to oversee personnel matters, billing and collection, budgeting, planning, equipment outlays, and patient flow. A large practice of 40 to 50 physicians may have a chief administrator and several assistants, each responsible for different areas.
Medical and health services managers in managed care settings perform functions similar to those of their counterparts in large group practices, except that they may have larger staffs to manage. In addition, they may do more work in the areas of community outreach and preventive care than do managers of a group practice.
Some medical and health services managers oversee the activities of a number of facilities in health systems. Such systems may contain both inpatient and outpatient facilities and offer a wide range of patient services.