The health care field is experiencing significant physician, nurse, and administrative shortages due to factors such as increased patient access to health care and an aging patient-population growth. The need for qualified health care professionals and providers is anticipated to continue inflating over the course of the next decade. While provider roles are important, the need for health care managers to operate organizations is also critical.
Impacts on Health Care
Everyone needs health care at some point, whether it is in the form of a routine physical check-up, a mental-health screening, physical therapy sessions, a trip to the ER, a hospital stay, or a long-term care plan. A lot of factors contribute to the rise in patient numbers, including increased access to health insurance and an aging generation of “Baby Boomers”. However, due to a shortage in health care professionals (from nurses to doctors to administrators) the health care industry is finding it challenging to accommodate the swelling patient population.
The Patient / Provider Ratio Conundrum
As of 2013, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) documented that there are approximately 5,900 primary care health professional shortage areas (HPSA), which is determined by a physician to population ratio of 1:3,500. Other statistics provide further clarification of the challenges at hand noting that there is a physician shortage of about 16,000 in the U.S. alone.
Additionally, the anticipated number of patients seeking health care is expected to increase. Medicare reports an expected enrollment surge of 44%, or 50.7 million to 73.2 million patients, between 2013 and 2025.
The prognosis for the health care industry reflects a highly unbalanced supply and demand ratio. Importantly, the shortage is not limited to primary care givers; it also extends to health care administration.
Critical Need for Health Care Management
Health care managers are needed across the spectrum of health care services; they are required for successful operations in the following areas:
- Small and large clinics
- Research institutions
- Mental health facilities
- Nursing homes
- Private practices
Given the many areas in which health care administrators work, it is no wonder that this facet of the industry is also experiencing a shortage. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 23% growth in the employment of health care service managers between 2012 and 2022. Health care management positions are not only in high demand, but they are also highly regarded. For example, in 2015, CNNMoney ranked hospital administrator as the 5th best job in America.
Roles of Health Care Managers
Health care managers are responsible for a diverse range of very important areas of oversight in each type of employment setting listed above, such as:
- Monitoring organizational infrastructure and data base organization
- Interpreting finances (billing, patient fees, etc.), planning budgets, and administering human resources functions (such as hiring, job designation, etc.)
- Serving as organizational representatives during investor or shareholder meetings
- Understanding ethical and legal issues relative to the health care industry and serving as leaders within an organization that promotes those values and requirements
- Managing conflict, negotiating issues, and guiding organizations through periods of change
- Learning new technological innovations in health care IT and having the capability of making decisions relative to implementing them
- Developing and implementing strategic management for growth and development
- Using knowledge of socio-economic and political environments to determine how they will impact the health care system when making decisions
These roles and responsibilities are filled by those who are interested in a dynamic, exciting work environment. Those wanting a health care management role should apply a diverse skill set that includes being analytical, detail-oriented problem solvers. They should also have robust communication and interpersonal skills.
Most importantly, health care managers should be passionate and driven. The current shortage of health care administrators and other professionals provides considerable opportunities for those interested in a meaningful career in leadership.
The University of Saint Mary (USM) is an accredited institution of higher education offering a variety of Master of Business Administration concentrations. By prioritizing ethical management skills, USM’s online MBA prepares students to serve as leaders in today's competitive marketplace. The online format of USM’s accelerated MBA program, with a concentration in health care management, provides flexibility that enables students to continue working while earning a career-launching degree.