What Does a Health Services Manager Do? A Look at the Pros Who Keep Healthcare Facilities Humming
When skimming online job boards, it seems as though there are countless jobs in the healthcare sector—with new titles popping up every day. How do you sort through them all to find something that aligns with your interests and skills? You know you want to work in healthcare, but you don’t want a career spent dealing with blood, germs and other less-than-pleasant elements associated with the field. So what’s available to you?
If you are a natural leader, organized and can handle several responsibilities and roles at once, then there may be a spot in the healthcare world for you as a health services manager. Health services managers are deep in the trenches of any healthcare setting. They are the professionals who track and manage the day-to-day functions of hospitals, nursing homes, clinics or other healthcare facilities.
This fast-paced, exciting career is booming. Hospitals need qualified people who are up-to-date on healthcare regulations and can handle all the responsibilities associated with managing a bustling healthcare setting. But what exactly does a health services manager do? We’re here to answer that question for you.
Role of a health services manager
Health services managers are vital to the overall organization and efficacy of a health care setting. They work primarily in hospitals with teams of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. They also often work with insurance agents, patients and medical staff to ensure care is delivered accurately and promptly.
Jennifer Hinkel, partner at health care consultancy McGivney Global Advisors, says health services managers are often looking at questions around efficiency, safety and improving the patient experience and satisfaction.
“[This may include] understanding the impact of health policy and healthcare law on the hospital, understanding the cost and reimbursement for drugs and other products, building programs that can attract medical staff and patient referrals and, in some cases, promoting research partnerships,” Hinkel says.
Health services manager job duties
Also known as healthcare executives, practice managers, health service administrators or service line directors, health services managers are responsible for many of the operational duties in a hospital or medical setting. Their common duties include:
- Supervising the training and recruitment of hospital staff
- Following and maintaining records of budgets
- Managing the day-to-day records of the facility, such as patient count
- Creating work schedules for healthcare providers
- Coordinating delivery of care and services by healthcare team
- Maintaining close communication with medical leadership and directors
“Health services managers may have the responsibility for helping to put processes and policies in place to help balance business needs with medical needs and requirements,” says Hinkel.
To put it simply, health services managers merge business and healthcare priorities to ensure hospitals function as smoothly as possible.
Health services manager work locations & titles
As the nature of the work involves supervising teams of healthcare professionals, health services managers are found primarily in hospitals. They may also work in physicians’ offices, nursing homes, home health agencies and group medical practices. In large healthcare facilities, managers may instead be in charge of a department, such as emergency care. This distinctions leads to some variation in title. Often these professionals will have titles, like “Service Line Director.” Those that work outside of hospitals may also have different titles, including nursing home administrators and clinical managers.
Health services manager job outlook and salary
If you’re considering a career as a health services manager, then you’re in luck. Employment of health services managers is projected to grow 17 percent from 2014 to 2024, which is much faster than the 7 percent projected national growth in employment for all other occupations. This is due to the massive growth expected to happen in healthcare as the baby boomer generation begins to age and requires healthcare treatment.
Job outlook is not the only promising perk of being a health services manager. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2016 median wage for health services managers was $96,540.* Though this pay is very appealing to some, there can be drawbacks. As with most healthcare professions, health services managers sometimes work weekends, evenings and/or holidays. Health services managers may also be on call at odd hours in case of an emergency.
In-demand skills for health services managers
Health services managers are responsible for many moving parts in a healthcare facility. Because of this, they need to have a great deal of organizational and leadership skills. To help you get a better idea of what employers are looking for, we’ve used real-time data analysis software to find the top skills listed in job postings for health services management positions.**
- Supervisory skills
- Patient care
- Staff management
- Microsoft Office
- Case management
- Project management
- Customer service
- Customer billing
Health services managers use a specialized set of skills for working with both internal teams and patients. They not only have to know how to communicate with healthcare professionals but also with patients and their families. The position requires both business and healthcare knowledge, so if you have interests in both, this career could be an opportunity to learn and grow in both fields.
Health services manager education requirements
Before diving into a career as a health services manager, you need the right education. Those interested have several options when it comes to choosing a field of study. Common pathways include obtaining a degree in Public Health, Healthcare Management, Health Information Management or Health and Wellness. For those looking to work in specialized settings such as a nursing home, degrees in Nursing or Pharmacy may be needed.
While health services managers come to the job with varying knowledge, two things they all have in common are the level of education and experience they bring to the table. More than 61 percent of medical and health services jobs in the last year required at least a Bachelor’s degree, with over 10 percent asking for a Master’s.
Don’t fret if at first you don’t think you can make the cut for one of these positions.
“Some people work their way up from jobs with a basis in medical coding and billing, or even front-office receptionist work or business management in medical practices,” says Hinkel.
Starting small can help you acclimate to the world of healthcare while learning essential skills that will help you work your way up to healthcare management.
Do you have what it takes?
Becoming a health services manager is not an overnight process. You will need to plan ahead and spend time in school obtaining the proper degree, as well as gaining experience in the field. However, once you are at the point where you feel confident and ready, a career as a health services manager can be extremely rewarding.
If you are ready to climb to the top, read our article, Your 6-Step Guide on How to Become a Healthcare Manager to see the next steps you need to take to begin your dream career.
*Salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries and employment conditions in your area may vary.
**Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 286,999 medical and health services manager job postings, Jan. 1, 2016 – December 31, 2016)