Many Americans believe our healthcare system is a mess, and they may not be wrong. Out-of-control costs, an aging population and a health insurance system that's unreliable and difficult to navigate are just a few of the problems. Healthcare administrators face problems their peers managing other endeavors can only imagine.
"Some of these problems have evolved slowly over time as a result of growing, complex and diverse healthcare offerings," a Nearterm blog says. "Rising costs in almost every area have been impacting hospitals and other healthcare providers as well as patient willingness to seek care." Issues caused by regulatory changes, politics, technological innovation, cybersecurity and patient protection have the healthcare administrator's plate piled high.
Then again, healthcare administrators and those who run other businesses have a lot in common. Both are concerned with the bottom line. Both require excellent communication skills. Business administrators are schooled in all aspects of management, as are healthcare administrators. Generally, though, healthcare administrators need specialized training.
"It might mean anything from managing a nursing facility populated with CNAs and nurses to managing a hospital wing with seasoned doctors," the website Healthcare Administration Degree Programs says. "In either scenario, as well as any other, there is a great deal of industry-specific knowledge required."
That's why young professionals seeking administrative roles in the medical field should consider an online MBA program that specializes in health services administration over a general business MBA.
HIPAA and Other issues
There's a good side and a bad side of information technology (IT) when it comes to healthcare management. Although IT can solve many issues, it can make patient information vulnerable, which puts the healthcare providers and their employers at risk of violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Cyberattacks on all businesses are on the increase but have been especially prevalent in health services. According to Nearterm, "From 2009 to 2015, 135 million compromised health records led to an estimated cost of $50.6 billion."
Liquidweb reports that complying with the act can be challenging. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports 70% of organizations are noncompliant.
Making matters worse, "The difference between data handling practices of the compliant 30 percent and the non-compliant 70 percent frequently comes down to a single change or set of changes," Liquidweb says. "In data collection, storage and transmission of the details are important, and a small adjustment can be the difference between a hefty fine and a sterling reputation."
There are also the ethical considerations healthcare administrators face. According to AMN Healthcare, these include:
- How do we make basic medical care available to everyone?
- What is the proper balance between quality (safety) and efficiency?
- As the population ages, how should end-of-life issues be addressed?
- How should healthcare providers allocate limited medications and donor organs?
General healthcare management problems abound. Waste, fraud and abuse are huge issues. Again according to Nearterm, the Washington Health Alliance discovered that 46% of low-cost services in the state — such as providers who are ordering extra tests and procedures to avoid liability issues — were considered unnecessary. According to the American Institute for Preventive Medicine, there are also problems on the patient side, as up to "55% of emergency room visits are unnecessary" — often due to a lack of insurance. The blog notes that regulatory changes, politics, technological innovation and staffing add to healthcare administrators' worries.
It is crucial that the next generation of healthcare administrators has a foundation in common business practices as well as a thorough understanding of healthcare issues. This makes advanced degree programs like the Barry University Master of Business Administration in Health Services Administration Online increasingly important.
The core curriculum blends the social, legal and ethical aspects of healthcare management with the managerial finance, marketing and accounting aspects of general business. This AACSB International-accredited program can be finished in 12 months.
Learn more about Barry University's online MBA in Health Services Administration program.
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