Health Sciences Department California State University, Northridge Northridge, CA

Health Sciences Department California State University, Northridge Northridge, CA

Sharon Saracino, RN, CRRN Patient Safety Officer Nursing Department Allied Services Integrated Health Care System–Heinz Rehab Wilkes-Barre, PA

Grant T. Savage, PhD Professor of Management Management, Information Systems, & Quantitative Methods Department University of Alabama, Birmingham Birmingham, AL

Nancy K. Sayre, DHEd, PA, MHS Department Chair Department of Health Professions Coordinator, Health Care Management Program Assistant Professor, Health Care Management Program Metropolitan State University of Denver Denver, CO

Windsor Westbrook Sherrill, PhD Professor of Public Health Sciences Associate Vice President for Health Research Clemson University Clemson, SC

Jon M. Thompson, PhD Professor, Health Services Administration Director, Health Services Administration Program James Madison University Harrisonburg, VA


Eric S. Williams, PhD Associate Dean of Assessment and Continuous Improvement Professor of Health Care Management Minnie Miles Research Professor Culverhouse College of Commerce University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL

Kevin D. Zeiler, JD, MBA, EMT-P Associate Professor, Health Care Management Program Department of Health Professions Metropolitan State University of Denver Denver, CO



An Overview of Health Care Management

Jon M. Thompson, Sharon B. Buchbinder, and Nancy H. Shanks

LEARNING OBJECTIVES By the end of this chapter, the student will be able to:

Define healthcare management and the role of the health care manager; Differentiate among the functions, roles, and responsibilities of health care managers;

Compare and contrast the key competencies of health care managers; and Identify current areas of research in health care management.

INTRODUCTION Any introductory text in health care management must clearly define the profession of health care management and discuss the major functions, roles, responsibilities, and competencies for health care managers. These topics are the focus of this chapter. Health care management is a growing profession with increasing opportunities in both direct care and non–direct care settings. As defined by Buchbinder and Thompson (2010, pp. 33–34), direct care settings are “those organizations that provide care directly to a patient, resident or client who seeks services from the organization.” Non-direct care settings are not directly involved in providing care to persons needing health services, but rather support the care of individuals through products and services made available to direct care settings. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, 2014) indicates health care


management is one of the fastest-growing occupations, due to the expansion and diversification of the health care industry. The BLS projects that employment of medical and health services managers is expected to grow 23% from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations (see Figure 1-1).

These managers are expected to be needed in both inpatient and outpatient care facilities, with the greatest growth in managerial positions occurring in outpatient centers, clinics, and physician practices. Hospitals, too, will experience a large number of managerial jobs because of the hospital sector’s large size. Moreover, these estimates do not reflect the significant growth in managerial positions in non–direct care settings, such as consulting firms, pharmaceutical companies, associations, and medical equipment companies. These non–direct care settings provide significant assistance to direct care organizations, and since the number of direct care managerial positions is expected to increase significantly, it is expected that growth will also occur in managerial positions in non–direct care settings.

Health care management is the profession that provides leadership and direction to organizations that deliver personal health services and to divisions, departments, units, or services within those organizations. Health care management provides significant rewards and personal satisfaction for those who want to make a difference in the lives of others. This chapter gives a comprehensive overview of health care management as a profession. Understanding the roles, responsibilities, and functions carried out by health care managers is important for those individuals considering the field to make informed decisions about the “fit.” This chapter provides a discussion of key management roles, responsibilities, and functions, as well as management positions at different levels within health care organizations. In addition, descriptions of supervisory level, mid-level, and senior management positions within different organizations are provided.


FIGURE 1-1 Occupations with the Most New Jobs in Hospitals, Projected 2012– 2022. Employment and Median Annual Wages, May 2013

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program (projected new jobs, 2012–2022) and Occupational Employment Statistics Survey (employment and median annual wages, May 2013).

THE NEED FOR MANAGERS AND THEIR PERSPECTIVES Health care organizations are complex and dynamic. The nature of organizations requires that managers provide leadership, as well as the supervision and coordination of employees. Organizations were created to achieve goals beyond the capacity of any single individual. In health care organizations, the scope and complexity of tasks carried out in provision of services are so great that individual staff operating on their own could not get the job done. Moreover, the necessary tasks in producing services in health care organizations require the coordination of many highly specialized disciplines that must work together seamlessly. Managers are needed to ensure organizational tasks are carried out in the best way possible to achieve organizational goals and that appropriate resources, including financial


and human resources, are adequate to support the organization. Health care managers are appointed to positions of authority, where they shape

the organization by making important decisions. Such decisions relate, for example, to recruitment and development of staff, acquisition of technology, service additions and reductions, and allocation and spending of financial resources. Decisions made by health care managers not only focus on ensuring that the patient receives the most appropriate, timely, and effective services possible, but also address achievement of performance targets that are desired by the manager. Ultimately, decisions made by an individual manager impact the organization’s overall performance.

Managers must consider two domains as they carry out various tasks and make decisions (Thompson, 2007). These domains are termed external and internal domains (see Table 1-1). The external domain refers to the influences, resources, and activities that exist outside the boundary of the organization but that significantly affect the organization. These factors include community needs, population characteristics, and reimbursement from commercial insurers, as well as government plans, such as the Children’s Health Insurance Plans (CHIP), Medicare, and Medicaid. The internal domain refers to those areas of focus that managers need to address on a daily basis, such as ensuring the appropriate number and types of staff, financial performance, and quality of care. These internal areas reflect the operation of the organization where the manager has the most control. Keeping the dual perspective requires significant balance and effort on the part of management in order to make good decisions.



COMPETENCIES As discussed earlier, management is needed to support and coordinate the services provided within health care organizations. Management has been defined as the process, comprised of social and technical functions and activities, occurring within organizations for the purpose of accomplishing predetermined objectives through human and other resources (Longest, Rakich, & Darr, 2000). Implicit in the definition is that managers work through and with other people, carrying out technical and interpersonal activities to achieve the desired objectives of the organization. Others have stated that a manager is anyone in the organization who supports and is responsible for the work performance of one or more other persons (Lombardi & Schermerhorn, 2007).

While most beginning students of health care management tend to focus on the role of the senior manager or lead administrator of an organization, it should be realized that management occurs through many others who may not have “manager” in their position title. Examples of some of these managerial positions in health care organizations include supervisor, coordinator, and director, among others (see Table 1-2). These levels of managerial control are discussed in more detail in the next section.

Managers implement six management functions as they carry out the process of management (Longest et al., 2000):

Planning: This function requires the manager to set a direction and determine


what needs to be accomplished. It means setting priorities and determining performance targets.

Organizing: This management function refers to the overall design of the organization or the specific division, unit, or service for which the manager is responsible. Furthermore, it means designating reporting relationships and intentional patterns of interaction. Determining positions, teamwork assignments, and distribution of authority and responsibility are critical components of this function.

Staffing: This function refers to acquiring and retaining human resources. It also refers to developing and maintaining the workforce through various strategies and tactics.

Controlling: This function refers to monitoring staff activities and performance and taking the appropriate actions for corrective action to increase performance.

Directing: The focus in this function is on initiating action in the organization through effective leadership and motivation of, and communication with, subordinates.

Decision making: This function is critical to all of the aforementioned management functions and means making effective decisions based on consideration of benefits and the drawbacks of alternatives.

In order to effectively carry out these functions, the manager needs to possess several key competencies. Katz (1974) identified key competencies of the effective manager, including conceptual, technical, and interpersonal skills. The term competency refers to a state in which an individual has the requisite or adequate ability or qualities to perform certain functions (Ross, Wenzel, & Mitlyng, 2002). These are defined as follows:

Conceptual skills are those skills that involve the ability to critically analyze and solve complex problems. Examples: a manager conducts an analysis of the best way to provide a service or determines a strategy to reduce patient complaints regarding food service.

Technical skills are those skills that reflect expertise or ability to perform a specific work task. Examples: a manager develops and implements a new incentive compensation program for staff or designs and implements modifications to a computer-based staffing model.

Interpersonal skills are those skills that enable a manager to communicate


with and work well with other individuals, regardless of whether they are peers, supervisors, or subordinates. Examples: a manager counsels an employee whose performance is below expectation or communicates to subordinates the desired performance level for a service for the next fiscal year.


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