Healthcare Management vs. Healthcare Administration

Healthcare administrator speaking with doctor

Healthcare management and healthcare administration are often mentioned interchangeably. However, these are both distinct roles in the health care industry. The responsibilities of health care managers and administrators differ between healthcare organizations and throughout the industry at large.

Health Care Management

A career in healthcare management may appeal to “big picture” thinkers. Managerial roles oversee the operations for entire facilities, including hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, physical rehabilitation clinics and nursing homes. While larger facilities may have a larger managerial staff with split responsibilities, health care managers typically work to establish the mission and values of the organization. Developing policies and procedures that support those values is a key part of this role. Also, health care managers direct and oversee hospital administration to ensure proper implementation of the organization’s policies across the entire facility.

Health Care Administration

While managers are involved with the overall operations of the facility, healthcare administrators oversee one specific department or area of the facility to align with the organization’s goals and policies. For example, one hospital administrator may work with the orthopedics department while another oversees the maternity wing. These administrators oversee the day-to-day operations of the department.

Note that the specific responsibilities of administrators can vary from one organization to the next. In some hospitals, administrators are primarily concerned with staffing issues. They may focus on ensuring their department has enough qualified staff members on hand to meet the needs of patients. They may also work on matters related to professional development and continuing education for staff. They may also handle finances such as the department budget and expenditures.

Similarities Between Management and Administration

Despite the different focuses of healthcare management and administration, both areas focus on ensuring a high standard of patient care and meeting the goals of the organization. To contribute effectively to their communities and improve the quality of patient care, administration and management must maintain a high degree of organization and develop effective policies.

Important Skills and Traits for Health Care Managers and Administrators

Despite the different aspects that healthcare managers and administrators focus on, professionals in both fields must possess certain skills and traits to excel in their respective roles. These include the following:

  • Leadership: All managers and administrators must exhibit ethical leadership to oversee their facilities or departments. Leaders actively listen to others, seek constructive criticism and consider input from staff. In addition, effective leadership in health care organizations centers on servant leadership.
  • Communication Skills: Clear verbal and written communication skills are essential for managers and administrators. Communicating how staff must operate to comply with policies, procedures and regulations is a crucial aspect of both roles. Professionals in either position may also be called upon to collaborate with community leaders and speak to members of the media.
  • Problem-Solving Capabilities: No industry or organization lacks challenges to its goals. In health care, administrators and managers must cope with problems that arise regarding various issues such as regulatory compliance, human resources issues and countless other potential obstacles. Problem-solving skills are crucial for these professionals.

Whether you have your sights set on a career in healthcare management or healthcare administration, you can get started working toward your future at Grand Canyon University. You can choose from several health care degree options that will offer you the build the necessary skills and knowledge to make a positive impact in the lives of patients and healthcare staff members, including the Bachelor of Science in Health Care Administration or the Master of Business Administration (MBA) with an Emphasis in Health Systems Management degree. To learn more about the College of Nursing and Health Care Professions, click on the Request Information button on this page.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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