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Healthcare administrators perform a variety of tasks, often dependent on their professional setting. The healthcare administration field continues to grow, fueled by the increasing demand for healthcare services from an aging U.S. population. In response, several colleges and universities now offer healthcare administration degrees online in an effort to attract more students to the field. This guide provides you with relevant information--skills and knowledge gained, job and salary potential--to help you decide if an undergraduate online healthcare administration degree suits your academic goals and career objectives.
What is Healthcare Administration?
The job description for healthcare administrators is dependent on the facility they manage and the kind of work or services the facility offers. Healthcare administration works with the business side of the healthcare industry, such as budget setting, staffing issues, and regulatory oversight. Administrators working in small rural hospitals often wear several hats, taking care of financial, personnel, and operational matters, while healthcare administrators in large hospitals often focus on one area only. Some healthcare administrators impact the industry by managing the delivery of health services from a policy-making stance. They work for governing bodies like the Food and Drug Administration, or international organizations like the Red Cross or the World Health Organization.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 20% growth rate for medical and health services managers through the year 2026, much faster than the projected growth rate for all other occupations (7%). Accredited colleges and universities offering online degrees in healthcare administration make no distinction between their online and onsite programs. Whether you earn your bachelor's in healthcare administration online or on campus, graduates face the same robust job market.
Healthcare administration is a broad, interdisciplinary field that encompasses business, science, and health policy. As the demand for well-trained healthcare administrators continues to grow, graduates of accredited healthcare administration programs can expect ample opportunities not only for employment, but for impact in the industry.
What Can I Do with an Online Healthcare Administration Bachelor's Degree?
Colleges and universities offering healthcare administration degrees online often attract nontraditional students, such as those with a bachelor's degree in another field, or those with professional experience but without a degree. As a discipline with growth potential traditional students (high school graduates) are also drawn to the field. Both types of students ultimately benefit from the broad skills and career opportunities a top-quality healthcare administration program provides.
Skills and Knowledge Gained
Accredited college programs provide students with industry-specific knowledge and skills they can use and build on as working professionals. In healthcare administration, this involves learning the elements, structure, terminology, and delivery methods in various healthcare systems. Additional industry-specific outcomes for both on-campus and online bachelor's degrees in healthcare administration typically include: the ability to identify or design effective systems that improve healthcare delivery, in-depth knowledge of ethical, legal, and regulatory issues relevant to the healthcare industry, and familiarity with technology and digital processes that enhance healthcare modalities.
A healthcare administration curriculum additionally provides opportunities for students to develop applicable and highly valued skills in other industries. For example, online bachelor's degrees in healthcare administration typically require students to enroll in business management courses. Since healthcare administration is a management position, graduates develop a basic, yet firm grasp of management concepts and principles. Management skills transfer well, and are useful not only in the healthcare industry, but in several other industries as well.
Students focusing on a specific aspect of healthcare administration typically enroll in electives offered in that discipline. For example, if you want to concentrate on the legal aspects of healthcare administration, you can take law electives. If you prefer to delve deeper into the business side of the industry, you can take more business electives.
Careers and Salary Potential
Healthcare administrators perform tasks that allow doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel to deliver optimum health services to their patients in a variety of healthcare-related work environments. As seen below, a variety of industries require the services of a well-trained healthcare administrator. Whether you earn your health administration degree online or on campus, you have several career options with significant growth potential.
- Hospitals: Healthcare administrators oversee the delivery of health services in hospitals, making sure patients receive proper and timely care. They also manage the hospital's budget, hire and direct staff and health professionals, ensure compliance with government and industry regulations, and implement hospital policies.
- Physician's Offices: In a private group practice, healthcare administrators assume similar responsibilities as in a hospital setting, although on a smaller scale. They often additionally handle patient billing, reimbursements, insurance claims, lease negotiations, supplier contracts, and other budgetary concerns.
- Nursing Facilities: Healthcare administrators ensure compliance with current state and federal regulations relevant to the nursing care industry. They liaise with the facility board to define directions for the facility, establish a budget, and determine strategies for growth and improvement. Healthcare administrators for nursing facilities also schedule patient visits with doctors and arrange for hospital stays when needed.
- Government: Healthcare administrators working for government agencies help define the healthcare industry by advocating for policy changes that affect all stakeholders including patients, health providers, facility owners, medical suppliers, and the general public. They evaluate research findings to set attainable objectives for the healthcare industry.
- Outpatient Care Centers: Outpatient care facilities provide several patient services that do not require a hospital stay. A healthcare administrator working in an outpatient care center oversees the facility's human resources, budgeting, and clerical needs, in addition to overseeing the clinical operations of the facility
Medical and Health Services Managers
Annual Median Salary : $98,350
Medical and health services managers work closely with doctors, staff, and board members to deliver timely and appropriate health services to patients within the financial boundaries of the facility while complying with government rules and regulations.
Administrative Services Managers
Annual Median Salary : $94,020
Although duties vary depending on the size of the organization, administrative service managers typically supervise clerical and administrative support personnel, maintain records, ensure that facilities are compliant with relevant regulations, and review procedures to improve operational efficiency.
Annual Median Salary : $89,029
Hospital administrators assume responsibility for the financial health of a facility, which includes setting a budget and allocating funds accordingly. They seek cost-effective ways to streamline medical and operational procedures without sacrificing the quality of patient care.
Medical Office Manager
Annual Median Salary : $48,278
Medical office managers are typically responsible for day-to-day operations in a medical office. These operations include processing insurance claims, medical billing, managing staff schedules and patient appointments, and organizing paperwork.
Annual Median Salary : $71,773
Practice administrators negotiate contracts with medical supply and pharmaceutical companies, assist in the recruitment of medical and nonmedical staff, prepare the budget for operations and staff, and make operational recommendations to improve practice efficiency.
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