What Does a Hospital Manager Do, and How Do I Become One?

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Hospital managers oversee the general administration of hospitals and other provider facilities. Their central goals are to prioritize patient safety, as well as to ensure the financial and operational sustainability of the site(s) they manage.

Hospital managers and staff hold a meeting.

Hospital managers ― who may also bear job titles such as hospital administrator, medical and health service manager, patient care manager or practice manager ― monitor healthcare quality, review staff performance, select and implement relevant medical technologies and IT infrastructure, and promote a collaborative organizational culture.

Indeed, the hospital manager role is inherently collaborative and involves regularly coordinating activities with numerous stakeholders. Since managers are responsible for the hospital as a whole, they will interact with physicians, nurses, billing specialists, and other administrators and staff.

The hospital manager position is not an entry-level job, as most individuals in it have some previous administrative and/or clinical experience within a hospital. While a bachelor’s degree may be sufficient for landing one of these managerial roles, many medical and health services managers have a master’s degree, such as the Healthcare Master of Business Administration (HCMBA) available online from the George Washington University (GW).

Exploring the main responsibilities of a hospital manager

Every hospital is a unique operating environment, but managers usually fulfill a similar set of responsibilities, including but not limited to:

Ensuring quality and efficiency in care delivery

Patient care is the keystone of hospital operations. Hospital managers perform ongoing oversight to make sure that this care is both high quality and efficiently delivered.

Performing such due diligence is complex, since it requires staying up to date with ongoing regulatory changes, managing the hospital budget and reviewing the practices of medical personnel. For example, many payers are shifting toward value-based reimbursement models that factor in patient outcomes when determining provider payments, as replacement for traditional fee-for-service setups.

It falls to hospital managers or administrators to navigate these changes. They will normally set goals and objectives and conduct trainings to give hospital workers everything they need to provide adequate care.

Managing hospital finances and records

It’s no accident that many hospital managers have MBAs, as the position involves extensive financial and operational management. MBA programs like the HCMBA build the necessary analytical acumen to excel when managing the complicated finances of the typical hospital.

Administrators will set budgets and then check to see how the hospital’s current and projected expenses square with what’s been already been allotted. Budgetary oversight may be done on a department-by-department basis.

Beyond budgets, hospital managers also oversee patient fees and billing. They formulate strategies for how to handle relations between patients and payers/insurers, which without careful management can result in excessive billing and confusion. As part of this work, hospital managers will also be responsible for gathering and maintaining records, such as the facility’s chargemaster.

Recruiting, training and leading medical staff

A big part of the hospital manager job is creating a productive work environment for all employees. To make that a reality, these managers play an active role in recruiting, hiring and training medical staff. Managers may also create work schedules and determine how shifts are managed.

Moreover, hospital managers serve as representatives of, and advocates for, their entire teams. They may negotiate with other stakeholders in and outside the hospital and attend events as the public face of their organization.

How much do hospital managers earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical and health services managers had median pay of more than $99,000 in 2018. That’s well above the national median.

The near-term outlook for their employment is also positive. The BLS projects 18% growth in the number of medical and health services managers between 2018 and 2028, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. At that rate, there would be almost half a million of these managers employed nationwide by 2028.

How do I become a hospital manager?

Most hospital managers have at least a bachelor’s degree and several years of experience in a hospital environment. Common academic backgrounds for hospital managers include nursing, health information systems, public health administration and business administration.

A hospital manager speaks with physicians.

Advanced degrees like an MBA can help build this expertise. At GW, the HCMBA provides a core curriculum with comprehensive coursework on business management, operations and finances, along with a wide selection of classes in healthcare topics such as patient safety systems and healthcare quality, both of which are especially relevant as the industry moves toward prioritizing the quality of medical care more than ever.

The GW HCMBA is 100% online, making it a good fit for working healthcare professionals looking to take the next steps in their careers. Individuals from many different backgrounds, from physician to administrator, have successfully completed the HCMBA track. To learn more about how to get started with the HCMBA, visit the main program page, where you can start with a quick overview.

Recommended Readings:
What is a chargemaster, and what do hospital administrators need to know about it?
How Hospital Management Affects Patient Care

Medical and Health Services Managers