What Is a Health Services Manager? A Look at the Pros Who Keep Healthcare Facilities Humming
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 skills and interests? 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 direct patient care. So, what’s available to you?
If you’re looking to leverage your leadership skills and business acumen in the healthcare sector, a career in health services management may be the answer. 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 dynamic, fast-paced career is on the rise. Hospitals need qualified individuals who are up to date on healthcare regulations and can juggle all the responsibilities associated with managing a bustling healthcare facility.
But what does a health services manager do, exactly? We’ve got the answer to that question and more so you can determine whether your future lies in health services management.
The role of health services management
Sometimes called medical services managers, health services management professionals are vital to the overall organization and efficacy of a healthcare setting. They work primarily in hospitals with teams of doctors, nurses and other healthcare personnel. They also often interact 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 explains.
What does a health services manager do? Common job duties
Health services managers are responsible for many of the operational duties in a hospital or medical setting. Their common duties include:
- Overseeing 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 of helping to put processes and policies in place to help balance business needs with medical needs and requirements,” Hinkel adds.
To put it simply, health and medical services managers merge business and healthcare priorities to ensure hospitals function as smoothly as possible.
Health services manager work locations and job titles
As the nature of the work involves supervising teams of healthcare professionals, the most common employment setting for health services managers is hospitals, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).1 Other work environments include physicians’ offices, nursing homes, home health agencies and group medical practices.
In large healthcare facilities, managers may be in charge of running a specific department, such as emergency care, rather than the entire facility. These distinctions lead to some variation in job title. Here’s a taste of some of the job titles that fall under the umbrella of health services management:2
- Medical director
- Clinical manager
- Health director
- Practice manager
- Clinical supervisor
- Nursing home administrator
- Laboratory manager
- Director of surgical services
- Office manager
- Services coordinator
While each of these positions will come with niche duties related to the specifics of that particular facility or department, they all require the foundational skills and knowledge needed to oversee the business side of healthcare.
Health services management salary and job outlook
If you’re intrigued by the responsibilities and job duties described above, you’re probably curious about what the average health services management salary is. The BLS reports the median annual salary for health and medical services managers in 2018 was $99,730.1 This is more than two and a half times the national average for all occupations.
And earning potential isn’t the only appealing aspect of working in health services management—above-average employment growth is also expected. In fact, jobs for health services managers are projected to increase 20 percent through 2026, according to the BLS.1 This is nearly three times faster than the national average.
This growth is largely due to the increasing demand for healthcare services as the baby boomer population ages. The BLS predicts an especially high demand for medical services managers in offices of health practitioners as they begin providing more services that traditionally took place strictly in hospitals.1
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. This role requires a strong balance of healthcare knowledge and business acumen in order to keep facilities safe, efficient and profitable.
To help you get a better idea of the types of skills needed, we used real-time job analysis software to examine more than 300,000 health services management jobs posted in the past year.2 This data helped us identify the top skills and traits employers are seeking.
Technical skills in demand:2
- Patient care
- Staff management
- Quality assurance and control
- Customer service
- Supervisory skills
- Case management
Transferable skills in demand:2
- Problem solving
- Microsoft Excel®
- Relationship building
Health services managers use a unique blend 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.
Health services manager education requirements
Before diving into a health services management career, you’ll need to be equipped with the proper skills and training. The BLS states that health services managers typically need at least a bachelor’s degree to enter the field.1 Common areas of study include: healthcare management, health administration or business administration.
Any degree program that combines both management and healthcare curriculum is ideal. Here are a few important courses you should look for:
- Healthcare operations management
- Healthcare information systems
- Regulation and compliance in healthcare
- Healthcare marketing
- Financial management in healthcare
- Risk management
According to our job analysis, 85 percent of employers are seeking candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree, with 13 percent asking for a master’s degree.3 Even if you enter the field with a bachelor’s degree, you may decide to advance your education down the road. For example, earning a Master of Healthcare Administration degree could open the door to further career advancement.
Do you have a future in health services management?
Becoming a health services manager is not an overnight process. You will need to plan ahead and invest the time in obtaining the proper training, as well as gaining experience in the healthcare 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’re ready to take the next step, visit our Healthcare Management page to learn more. Already have a bachelor’s degree in a related field? Check out our Master of Healthcare Administration page for more info.
1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [accessed June 2019]. Information represents national, averaged data for the occupations listed and include workers at all levels of education and experience. Employment conditions in your area may vary.
2 Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 336,978 health services management job postings, Jun. 01, 2018 – May 31, 2019).
3 Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 175,222 health services management job postings by education level, Jun. 01, 2018 – May 31, 2019).
Microsoft Excel is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in 2017. It has since been updated to include information relevant to 2019. Insight from Jennifer Hinkel remains from original article.