What Can You Do with a Bachelor’s in Healthcare Management?
There are many reasons to pursue a degree in healthcare management. Outside of the desire to work in the fast-paced and rapidly evolving healthcare industry, many are attracted to a career in management because of leadership opportunities, job flexibility, and high salaries. In fact, the healthcare management field is so attractive that currently more than 350,000 people are employed in healthcare management occupations in the United States, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Another attractive feature of healthcare management is that the day-to-day responsibilities are not limited to an office, desk, or chair. While part of the job does rely on office work and administrative tasks, healthcare managers are usually on their feet, walking the halls of their site, meeting with people, talking to patients, and looking for ways to improve upon all aspects of healthcare. Healthcare managers do spend time budgeting, planning, and scheduling, but the majority of their work includes overseeing employees and strategizing about how to more smoothly operate all components of a healthcare organization, whether a hospital, nursing home, long-term care facility, or doctor’s office.
While the daily responsibilities of a healthcare manager can vary depending on the type of job, there are several common traits of successful professionals in this field, including being analytical and detail-oriented. This field provides business-oriented professionals with the opportunity to get involved in healthcare from a management perspective, meaning that it is crucial for healthcare manager to be strong communicators and natural leaders.
Healthcare Management Bachelor’s Program Accreditation
A bachelor’s degree is typically needed to enter the field, but there are many different types of healthcare management degrees, available both online and on-campus. For example, Southern New Hampshire University offers an online bachelor of science (BS) degree in healthcare administration. Students will learn about the business, ethics, quality management and technology components of the healthcare industry through courses, such as healthcare finance, principles of epidemiology, and healthcare delivery systems.
Students who are interested in enrolling in a reputable program should make sure the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) has accredited the programs they are considering. The CAHME offers a searchable database of CAHME-accredited programs in the U.S.
Additionally, various groups, such as the Association of University Programs in Health Administration, provide networking and membership opportunities for those interested in furthering their careers in healthcare management, from prospective and current students to young and seasoned working professionals.
Career Tracks Following a Degree in Health Management
A variety of career options exist for graduates of undergraduate degree programs in healthcare management. Below, readers can explore potential career tracks and learn about some of the tasks and responsibilities of these jobs.
Medical and Health Services Managers
This career has a lot of growth potential, and opportunity as successful medical and health services managers have both a big-picture and detailed understanding of the happenings in a healthcare organization. Their role is to create objectives and goals for various departments and inspire people to work toward them. Leadership is an essential requirement for this job, as are organization and strategy. On any day, a medical and health services manager might be involved in creating work schedules, hiring and training staff, or overseeing the finances of a facility. According to the BLS (May 2017), the median salary for medical and health services managers is $98,350.
Medical Records Manager
This profession focuses on the critical role of protecting patient health information. Medical records managers implement proven healthcare records management systems that are reliable and keep data secure. Electronic medical records (EMRs) are an essential component of the job, offering a systematized collection of structured and unstructured data on individual patients, like doctors’ notes, medical histories, lab tests, allergies and immunizations, insurance, and even billing information. Medical records managers must ensure that all of the required fields in an EMR are complete and that the medical staff is efficiently using them. In fact, EMRs are now such an essential part of the industry that organizations that receive Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement are required by law to keep track of information using EMRs. Salary data website Payscale (2018) notes that the average salary for a medical records manager is $40,000.
Healthcare Office Manager
The title of this position may make it seem like this is a standard job, but an office manager at a healthcare facility has many opportunities to show initiative and to improve in-office processes. These professionals take care of all kinds of obstacles at the workplace, from scheduling the maintenance of office equipment to ensuring new patients feel welcomed and supported. Of course, the primary responsibilities of a healthcare office manager are to manage all record-keeping, patient inflow and outflow, and staff efficiency—all in a day’s work. The median salary for a healthcare office manager, according to Payscale (2018), is $48,421.
Healthcare Financial Manager
Someone who loves numbers and healthcare could do well in healthcare financial management. In this job, professionals prepare financial statements, review financial reports and even make forecasts about upcoming expenses. Financial managers also examine ways to cut costs as well as the best ways to make changes in expenditures without affecting quality care. They should know how to use software for accounting, financial analysis, and business intelligence, and they may also oversee a team of workers, including those involved in billing, cash payments, and accounting. Who knew computing could be such an essential part of a healthcare career? The BLS (May 2017) reports a median salary for financial managers of $125,080.
Healthcare consultants have a variety of roles, such as helping companies come up with lower-cost operating models and making plans to adapt to changes in the marketplace. They may focus on areas of product improvement and innovation or assist with the adoption of new tools and technologies in the office. Healthcare consultants may even help with things like the development of mobile apps, the use of digital health tools and the implementation of effective IT systems and solutions. Additionally, in the case of mergers and acquisitions, healthcare consultants could develop leverage strategies that create value for both patients and stockholders. According to Payscale (2018), the average pay for healthcare consultants is $75,097 per year.
Additional Certifications in Healthcare Management
Many healthcare management professionals choose to complement their undergraduate degree with a master’s or an advanced certification. Whether a few years following an undergraduate degree or a few decades, there is always the option to pursue a graduate-level healthcare management degree, such as a master of health administration (MHA). There are also more business-oriented graduate options such as an MBA degree with a focus in healthcare administration or a Master in Public Health (MPH) with an emphasis in healthcare administration—with some available entirely online.
A master’s degree can help professionals move upward to higher levels of management, such as medical and health services managers. Since most medical and health services managers only have a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree could also be a way for individuals to differentiate themselves in interviews and job applications.
Outside of graduate degrees, there are continuing education programs and alternatives. There are many certifications available in healthcare management. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers at least half a dozen options and recommends certification as a way for individuals to increase their earning potential, have more opportunity for career advancement, and gain better job mobility. Several of AHIMA’s certifications are described below.
- Registered health information administrator (RHIA): The RHIA-certified worker knows how to manage medical records and patient information and how to administer computer information systems. A bachelor’s or master’s degree from an AHIMA-accredited school is required for this certification.
- Certified health data analyst (CHDA): Individuals certified as CHDAs have at least three years of experience in healthcare data analysis, and a master’s degree in health information management—or a pre-existing credential, such as the RHIA.
- Certified professional in health informatics (CPHI): Candidates seeking this credential are knowledgeable about data analysis, management, and reporting. They may also have experience in database and project management. A bachelor’s degree and at least one year of experience in the field are necessary to take the CPHI examination.
- Certified in healthcare privacy and security (CHPS): A CHPS credential means that a person knows about administering, implementing, and advancing healthcare security protection processes and best-practices. A bachelor’s degree with four years of experience in the field can qualify people for examination.
The Professional Association of Health Care Office Management (PAHCOM) also offers certification in healthcare management. However, there are only the following two certifications available through this organization:
- Certified medical management (CMM): The CMM credential indicates that individuals are qualified in human resources, finance, revenue management, technology, and data management. The credential is specifically designed for professionals managing small physician practices or solo provider officers.
- Health information technology certified manager for physician practice (HITCM-PP): This certification is geared towards professionals who are knowledgeable in health information technology, including laws and regulations, systems analysis and management, evidence-based medicine, and privacy and security.
The American Association of Healthcare Administration Management (AAHAM) offers certifications that are less focused on technology and geared more broadly towards healthcare management skills. Several of AAHAM’s certifications are described below.
- Certified revenue cycle executive (CRCE): This credential is meant for senior and executive-level professionals involved in an organization’s revenue cycle. Two subtypes of the CRCE credential are available, one for executives in hospitals and healthcare systems and the other for professionals in a clinic or healthcare office.
- Certified compliance technician (CCT): CCT-certified individuals understand all aspects of patient accounts in a healthcare setting, whether that is an institutional setting, like a hospital, or a professional setting, like a doctor’s office.
- Certified revenue integrity professional (CRIP): The certificate indicates that individuals have in-depth knowledge and skills about revenue cycles, which enable them to improve revenue and reimbursement in healthcare sites.
Finally, certification also is available through the American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA). The ACHCA lists personal satisfaction, commitment to the public, and employer recognition as reasons for obtaining a certification. The two certifications offered by the organization are described below.
- Certified nursing home administrators (CNHA): This certification indicates a person has knowledge about residential-care facilities, including the social and medical needs of residents, as well as accountability, revenue, reimbursement, and cost structures.
- Certified assisted living administrators (CALA): Individuals with CALA certification have skills similar to CNHA-certified individuals, but their skills and knowledge are focused on assisted-living facilities.
In some states, certification may be necessary for licensing, but licensing is typically only required for healthcare managers interested in becoming an administrator of a nursing home, residential-care or assisted-living facility. The National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards (NAB) has more details about licensing requirements listed state-by-state.