Five Fast-Growing Careers in Healthcare Administration in 2019
According to federal projections, healthcare will be the biggest industry in America by 2026, accounting for one-third of all jobs in the country. This news can be explained by the aging Baby Boomer population, the digitization of the industry, and other factors.
As Baby Boomers move into later stages of their lives, they will need more care; those who work in healthcare will retire, resulting in more demand for younger healthcare professionals. As electronic health records become an industry standard, medical facilities will increasingly need administrators trained in organizational management and internet technology to oversee a facility’s operations. As such, the need for healthcare administrators is projected to increase by 20 percent over the next ten years—almost three times faster than average.
As a field, healthcare has a vast and diverse set of roles. Many positions are clinical in nature, but most of the fastest growing careers center around healthcare administration. These administrators are the people who keep facilities running healthily and efficiently, by scaling them up, securing their data, monitoring their finances, and maintaining regulatory compliance.
Some of the fundamental questions facing today’s and tomorrow’s administrators are how to reign in costs, allocate resources effectively, properly measure the quality of care, and provide for a growing population’s medical needs. In short, healthcare administrators seek to optimize the increasingly complex business side of healthcare so that medical providers can focus on giving patients the best care.
Healthcare administration is a dynamic field that has never been more important to a healthy society. Read on for a look at the fastest growing careers in healthcare administration in 2019.
Clinical managers oversee the administration of all kinds of clinical medical facilities, from private practices to small medical group facilities. While many hospitals have already begun upgrading their technology and processes, many smaller medical facilities are overburdened and under-equipped to handle such transitions themselves.
Where a private practice might have been a largely independent workplace in recent years, it is becoming increasingly necessary for clinicians to bring in dedicated healthcare administrators to take over the business side of the practice. Furthermore, with more complex federal and state regulations regarding insurance reimbursements and data securitization, clinical managers are no longer seen as an extra, but a necessity.
Typical responsibilities for a clinical manager include hiring, training, and scheduling staff, designing and implementing budgets, and negotiating insurance contracts. With an overarching mandate to optimize a clinic or practice in a way that best benefits providers and patients, further tasks could include upgrading medical technologies, contracting IT consultants, and advancing community outreach efforts. These professionals use their business and management skills to turn a clinic into a leaner and more efficient operation.
At some smaller and more rural clinics, a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration or health services management may be enough to start work as a clinical manager, but for larger operations with more specialized needs, clinical managers will often have an MHA, MBA, or both. While there is no certification requirement, the American College of Medical Practice Executives (ACMPE) does offer a Certified Medical Practice Executive (CMPE) accreditation, and the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management offers a certified medical manager (CMM) certification.
According to Salary.com and Payscale, the average wages for a clinical manager are close to $70,000 a year, while Indeed puts the figure closer to $75,000. The precise amount will vary according to the size and location of the clinic being managed. A clinical manager in a major metropolitan area like New York or Philadelphia, for example, will average closer to $90,000 in annual salary.
As more medical facilities modernize, healthcare consultants are there to step in and find optimal solutions that can transform a facility and take it into the 21st century. Instead of relying on full-time employees to guide their own change management, many medical facilities are turning to short-term contract healthcare consultants who can step in with an objective eye and make impactful assessments and upgrades. In the subfield of healthcare IT consulting alone, spending topped $15 billion in 2016, and analysts expect it to reach $56 billion by 2023.
The typical responsibilities of a healthcare consultant will vary based on the facility they’re serving but may include conducting interviews and research, analyzing and writing reports, contacting possible service vendors, managing training programs, and implementing transitional strategies. Some facilities may hire a consultant to optimize their tech and data processes, while others may need more help around staffing and organizational infrastructure. In many cases, the contracting facility will establish a goal or outcome, and it is up to the healthcare consultant to determine how best to achieve it.
While one may begin work as a healthcare consultant with only a bachelor’s degree, in most cases, it is best paired with a graduate degree, such as an MHA. Combined MHA and MBA programs are also standard for healthcare consultants. Due to the diverse set of employers a consultant is likely to have in the course of their work, it is important that a consultant has a broad range of industry knowledge, much like what is provided in a master’s-level curriculum.
A consultant may choose to specialize in a certain area, such as healthcare IT or healthcare finance, but a range of interdisciplinary knowledge is critical for tackling the big picture problems with which healthcare consultants are often presented. While it is not a requirement for practicing in the field, the National Society of Certified Healthcare Business Consultants (NSCHBC) does offer certification as a healthcare business consultant (CHBC).
Salary figures for healthcare consultants vary widely and are based heavily on geography and experience. Payscale reports the median salary for healthcare consultants to be $76,432 per year. Entry-level consultants make an average of $69,115 per year, while the top earners make more than $120,000 in annual wages.
Healthcare IT Professional
Medical facilities are overflowing with data, and healthcare IT professionals are the ones who build and maintain systems to secure, harness, analyze, and transport that data. As healthcare services incorporate more technology into their facilities, primarily in the form of electronic health records, specialized professionals are increasingly needed to keep a facility secure, efficient, and up-to-date. That work, in turn, improves patient outcomes in meaningful and measurable ways. Spending on healthcare IT consulting surpassed $15 billion in 2016, and analysts suggest it could hit $56 billion by 2023.
A variety of roles fall under the category of healthcare IT professionals, including clinical applications analysts, clinical data analysts, and IT staff or directors at medical facilities. Typical responsibilities include shaping aspects of healthcare IT such as data securitization, vendor migration, compliance adherence, database management, insight analysis, and facility-wide IT training. Healthcare IT professionals can work at practically any medical facility, and sometimes several at once when in the role of consultant.
It is possible to get started in healthcare IT with as little as an associate’s degree, but for increased opportunities and higher salaries, most aspiring professionals attain at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, healthcare administration, health information management, or healthcare informatics. Graduate-level education (e.g., an MHA or MBA with a healthcare informatics focus) is becoming increasingly popular. Both responsibilities and pay will rise according to academic and professional experience.
The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers certifications as a registered health information technician (RHIT), a registered health information administrator (RHIA), a certified healthcare privacy and security specialist (CHPS), a certified health data analyst (CHDA), or a certified professional in healthcare informatics (CPHI).
Healthcare IT professionals have strong earnings potential. A survey by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) puts the average salary for healthcare IT professionals at $111,387 per year, and the median at $90,000 per year. For lower-level managerial positions, the average salary was still over $104,000 a year, and senior management pay went above $163,000 a year.
In 2015, CNNMoney ranked hospital administrators as one of the top five professions in the country due to its exceptionally high growth-rate and strong earnings potential. Since then, the prospects have only increased. As medical facilities become increasingly complex organisms that serve more people, they need more talented managers to oversee operations.
While medical providers focus on the health of patients, hospital administrators focus on the health of facilities. This means overseeing all of a facility’s operations, from designing and implementing budgets to implementing and streamlining policies, ensuring regulatory compliance, and architecting the short- and long-term strategies of a facility as a whole. Hospital administrators also need to be diplomats, acting as a liaison between the board of directors, funding sources, staff, patients, families, and the community at large.
While it is possible to become a hospital administrator with only a bachelor’s degree, it is increasingly uncommon. Running a hospital can be like running a major business and a small city at the same time. As such, most hospital administrators will have a master of healthcare administration (MHA), master of business administration (MBA), or both.
They often need a strong professional network and exhaustive experience before joining a large or specialized hospital. While hospital administrators do not need to be licensed to practice, they may seek out board certification from the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE).
Hospital administrators hold a marquee position in the healthcare industry, and, as such, salary potential for hospital administrators is high. Even considering the variables of geography, facility size, and applicant experience, hospital administrators earn an average of close to $90,000 a year, according to Payscale, with top positions paying nearly double that. Even more encouraging is robust salary information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which finds the median annual wages for hospital administrators to be $107,230.
Nursing Home Administrator
Due to the aging Boomer generation and people staying active later in life, nursing home administration is one of the primary beneficiaries, and one of the fastest growing careers in healthcare. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates there are already close to 1.4 million nursing home residents, and according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of people aged 65 or older is expected to double over the next four decades.
Nursing home administrators oversee all financial, organizational, and residential operations of a nursing home or long-term care facility. They maintain the staff, design the budgets, implement facility-wide policy, manage billing and reimbursement, report to a board of directors, and, critically, maintain a connection with residents, families, and the wider community. This is a 360-degree job that requires both an objective outlook and a personal touch.
The bare minimum of education for this job is a bachelor’s degree in a related field. And some bachelor’s of science in healthcare administration (BSHA) programs even offer concentrations or certificates in long-term care. But for larger facilities looking for modern and forward-thinking administrators, an MHA is increasingly in need.
Some MHA programs offer specializations in nursing home administration, gerontology, or other relevant areas. Regardless of their level of education, all nursing home administrators must be licensed by the state in which they practice. Preparatory materials, exams, and third-party certification options can be found through the National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards (NAB). Further certification as a certified nursing home administrator (CNHA) is not required but available through the American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA).
Salary figures for nursing home administrators will vary based on the size and location of the facility in which they work. Payscale puts the median salary for nursing home administrators at just over $87,000 a year, while Salary.com finds it to be closer to $111,000 a year. Triangulating these data points with information available at the BLS renders a strong salary outlook for nursing home administrators.