Career in healthcare management

all is well Healthcare management is a less explored but a rewarding career option, writes Dr A Ganapathy

Career in healthcare management

Health care administration or hospital management provides management skills for the delivery of healthcare services. Doctors and medical specialists have so far been managing hospitals and health centers, without possessing the necessary managerial training. Moreover, it takes away precious time required by doctors to carry out their medical responsibilities.

Therefore, of late most large and medium sized hospitals have specially trained professional hospital administrators with a management team responsible for the management of the healthcare services and medical staff, for planning and control, for continuous supply of materials, the management of the research and clinical work, and so on.

Hospital management and administration is concerned with the organization, coordination, planning, staffing, evaluating and controlling of health services for the masses. The primary objective is to provide quality healthcare to people and that too in a cost-effective manner. Professional hospital administrators have proven how institutions can be managed proficiently, economically and successfully in a given time period.

Nature of work

Hospital administrators manage hospitals, outpatient clinics, hospices, and drug-abuse treatment centers. In large hospitals, there may be several administrators, one for each department. In smaller facilities, they oversee the day-to-day operations of all departments.

Administrators make sure hospitals operate efficiently and provide adequate medical care to patients. They act as liaisons between governing boards, medical staff, and department heads and integrate the activities of all departments so they function as a whole.

They recruit, hire, and sometimes train doctors, nurses, interns, and assistant administrators. Administrators plan budgets and set rates for health services. In research hospitals, administrators develop and expand programs and services for scientific research and preventive medicine. In teaching hospitals, they aid in the education of new doctors.

They plan departmental activities, evaluate doctors and other hospital employees, create and maintain policies, help develop procedures for medical treatments, quality assurance, patient services, and public relations activities such as active participation in fund-raising and community health planning.

Hospital administrators work long or irregular hours. Hospitals are open round the clock and administrators may be called in at any hour to make decisions and resolve disputes. They also attend staff meetings, participate in health planning councils, go to fund-raising events, and travel to professional association conventions. They need to keep up with advances in medicine, computerized diagnostic and treatment equipment, data processing technology, government regulations, health insurance changes, and financing options. While doctors strive to keep the blood flowing and the heart beating, the hospital administrator is doing his job in keeping the hospital alive and healthy.

Hospital managers work from the premises of the hospital and need to be physically present in the hospital complex. They need to walk around the hospital and monitor the different services. They also need to maintain good communications with the management and staff of all departments, doctors and medical specialists, para-medical staff, health workers, and ensure the well-being of all patients.

Besides an understanding of the functions of the different departments, hospital managers should be familiar with financial operations, personnel management, purchase of materials and storage, organizational development and patient care.

Professional courses

There are many courses available in the field of Hospital Administration for both medical and non-medical persons e.g. Bachelor of Hospital Administration (BHA) after 10+2/XII standard, Post Graduate Diploma in Hospital Administration (PGDHA) after graduation in any subject, Master of Hospital Administration (MHA) or MBA (Hospital Administration) after graduation in any field, as well as MPhil (Hospital Administration) after MHA.

These programmes combine training in management skills, management principles, accounting and business communication, along with specialized knowledge on the working of a hospital, marketing of hospital services and logistics management. You also get to know about basic healthcare and nutrition, prevention of communicable diseases, community health and other medical related services.

The ideal candidate

For a career in hospital administration, you should possess  qualities such as an innovative attitude, responsibility, self motivation, and selfless devotion towards humanity.  As medical managers are responsible for hundreds of employees and very expensive equipment and facilities, they should be able to make effective decisions, interpret data and understand information systems and finance. A post-graduate degree or a MBA in this field is desirable, besides having strong communication skills.

The average starting salary for a Hospital Administrator varies from Rs 12,000 to Rs 40,000 per month. There is no constraint in higher remuneration for deserving candidates.

International prospects

The sector also offers prospects of global recognition with medical tourism becoming more widespread.

Where to study

*All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi
*Apollo Institute of Hospital Administration, Hyderabad
* Birla Institute of Technology, Rajasthan
* Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
* Symbiosis Centre of Health Car, Pune
*Armed Forces Medical College, Pune
*Armed Forces Medical College, Pune
* Kasturba Medical College,
* Manipal Kasturba Medical College (KMC), Manipal
* Indian Institute of social Welfare and Management, Kolkata
* Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences, Hyderabad
* Faculty of Management Studies (FMS), Delhi
* Hinduja Institute of Healthcare Management,
* Devi Ahilya Institute of Hospital Administration, Indore
* Indian Institute of Health Management Research (IIHMR), Jaipur

(The writer is a healthcare management professional in Gurgaon)

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