The common perception of a healthcare facility includes plenty of nurses hustling from patient to patient, doctors doing bedside consultations and patients recovering peacefully in their beds. But tucked away in an office, filing invoices and making schedules, you’ll find a vital piece of any well-run medical institution: an administrator.
When a facility functions smoothly, it’s easy for an administrator’s work to pass unnoticed. But it is equally easy to notice when a healthcare administrator’s work is not being done properly.
An administrator’s duties include:
- Creating budgets, filing patient records and processing insurance claims
- Representing the facility to investors and governing boards
- Hiring, training and monitoring support staff
- Overseeing maintenance and repair of physical facilities
- Developing goals for the facility and strategies for how to achieve those goals
- Negotiating with vendors and suppliers
- Conducting community outreach programs
Without an administrator, any key organizational duty would be left to an overwhelmed staff already busy trying to juggle the demands of patient needs and concerned families with mountains of paperwork and clerical duties. The business end of healthcare would suffer on a day-to-day basis, from marketing to accounting or ensuring patient care.
If someone does not perform the administrative tasks, healthcare facilities could run out of supplies with no one negotiating vendor contracts, face staff shortages from poor scheduling, or even go out of business without oversight of finances.
As the healthcare marketplace evolves, so does the administrator’s job. An opportunity now exists for administrators to drive innovation in team-based care as they begin to accept more responsibility for the outcome of patient care within the facilities they oversee.
Therefore, strong team building skills are a necessity for successful administrators looking to incorporate multiple perspectives, lower costs and improve communication to minimize mistakes by medical staff.
Team building has to be done by someone who is emotionally engaged and strong in the soft skills of communication, empathy, responsibility and conflict resolution. Emotional intelligence is becoming increasingly important for administrators looking to have an impact on the culture of an institution.
Former Cleveland Clinic CEO Dr. Floyd Loop was known for building communication among his staff of administrators who would kick ideas around during two-hour-long lunches that occurred four days a week. These “Viking Dinners” as they were called, were often perceived as loud and unconstructive to outsiders, but were essential to the success of the institution, according to Loop.
“No one was smarter than everyone,” Loop said in a 2010 interview on the Crain’s Cleveland Business website. “Great ideas came from those discussions. More than prescriptions, medicine involves communication, tolerance, flexibility, listening, hard work and a passion for the practice.”
Jobs in healthcare administration are expected to grow by 17% through 2024 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Given the aging Baby Boomer population, healthcare facilities will continue popping up across the country as an increased demand for service has to be met. With each new hospital, clinic, assisted living facility or surgery center comes the need for administrators to organize and manage the facility, staffing and finances.