MANAGEMENT POSITIONS: THE CONTROL IN THE ORGANIZATIONAL HEIRARCHY Management

MANAGEMENT POSITIONS: THE CONTROL IN THE ORGANIZATIONAL HEIRARCHY Management positions within health care organizations are not confined to the top level; because of the size and complexity of many health care organizations, management positions are found throughout the organization. Management positions exist at the lower, middle, and upper levels; the upper level is referred to as senior management. The hierarchy of management means that authority, or power, is delegated downward in the organization, and lower-level managers have less authority than higher-level managers, whose scope of responsibility is much greater. For example, a vice president of Patient Care Services in a hospital may be in charge of several different functional areas, such as nursing, diagnostic imaging services, and laboratory services; in contrast, a director of Medical Records—a lower-level position—has responsibility only for the function of patient medical records. Furthermore, a supervisor within the Environmental Services department may have responsibility for only a small housekeeping staff, whose work is critical, but confined to a defined area of the organization. Some managerial positions, such as those discussed previously, are line manager positions because the manager supervises other employees; other managerial positions are staff manager positions because they carry out work and advise their bosses, but they do not routinely supervise others. Managerial positions also vary in terms of required expertise or experience. Some positions require extensive knowledge of many substantive areas and significant working experience, and other positions are more appropriate for entry-level managers who have limited or no experience.

The most common organizational structure for health care organizations is a functional organizational structure, whose key characteristic is a pyramid- shaped hierarchy that defines the functions carried out and the key management positions assigned to those functions (see Figure 1-2). The size and complexity of the specific health services organization will dictate the particular structure. For example, larger organizations—such as large community hospitals, hospital

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systems, and academic medical centers—will likely have deep vertical structures reflecting varying levels of administrative control for the organization. This structure is necessary due to the large scope of services provided and the corresponding vast array of administrative and support services that are needed to enable the delivery of clinical services. Other characteristics associated with this functional structure include a strict chain of command and line of reporting, which ensure communication and assignment and evaluation of tasks are carried out in a linear command and control environment. This structure offers key advantages, such as specific divisions of labor and clear lines of reporting and accountability.

Other administrative structures have been adopted by health care organizations, usually in combination with a functional structure. These include matrix, or team-based, models and service line management models. The matrix model recognizes that a strict functional structure may limit the organization’s flexibility to carry out the work, and that the expertise of other disciplines is needed on a continuous basis. An example of the matrix method is when functional staff, such as nursing and rehabilitation personnel, are assigned to a specific program, such as geriatrics, and they report for programmatic purposes to the program director of the geriatrics department. Another example is when clinical and administrative staff are assigned to a team investigating new services that is headed by a marketing or business development manager. In both of these examples, management would lead staff who traditionally are not under their direct administrative control. Advantages of this structure include improved lateral communication and coordination of services, as well as pooled knowledge.

In service line management, a manager is appointed to head a specific clinical service line and has responsibility and accountability for staffing, resource acquisition, budget, and financial control associated with the array of services provided under that service line. Typical examples of service lines include cardiology, oncology (cancer), women’s services, physical rehabilitation, and behavioral health (mental health). Service lines can be established within a single organization or may cut across affiliated organizations, such as within a hospital system where services are provided at several different affiliated facilities (Boblitz & Thompson, 2005). Some facilities have found that the service line management model for selected clinical services has resulted in many benefits, such as lower costs, higher quality of care, and greater patient satisfaction, compared to other management models (Duffy & Lemieux, 1995). The service line management model is usually implemented within an organization in conjunction with a functional structure, as the organization may choose to give special emphasis and

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additional resources to one or a few services lines.

FIGURE 1-2 Functional Organizational Structure

 

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