What is a care manager in healthcare?
Managers of care in healthcare are essential to any healthcare organization, be it a hospital, clinic or nursing home. They are responsible for efficiently managing and delivering medical and healthcare services. Although care managers offer their services in various workplaces, their job role does not include providing direct patient care. Instead, healthcare managers deal with indirect factors affecting patient care and experiences. Their responsibilities primarily include organizing, directing, reviewing and coordinating services to guarantee that everything runs as smoothly as possible.
The everyday activities of medical institutions are strongly dependent on the guidance of healthcare managers. Understanding the position and duties involved in healthcare administration is beneficial if you consider pursuing a career in this field. These individuals profit by having a great grasp of management, a love for healthcare, and exceptional multitasking skills. In this article, we go through the duties and qualifications for the position of healthcare manager, as well as several comparable positions in the industry.
What is the importance of healthcare management?
The management of human resources inside a hospital unit is essential in order to inspire, develop and keep the medical staff functioning effectively, responsibly, and with care for the greater good of society. Healthcare is among the most important services provided to people. Hence, healthcare management is needed by healthcare organizations because the delivery of contemporary healthcare necessitates close coordination among many parties. The significance of care managers in healthcare is highlighted below.
Coordination and organization
Healthcare requires more coordination than any other industry because good coordination guarantees that patients receive safe and timely care. The coordination of procedures, including the scheduling of visits, previous approvals, and communication by healthcare management, raises the standard of service from poor to high. Every organizational level, from supervisors overseeing the daily operations of the medical personnel to executives controlling the whole institution, needs healthcare administrators.
Other than working on the organization of the medical staff in a healthcare facility, healthcare managers are crucial in finding and building connections with other local nonprofits to deliver high-quality care to patients. To assist patients in dealing with the social issues influencing their health, for instance, healthcare administrators might collaborate with social workers. Overall, via teamwork, healthcare management significantly increases the effectiveness of healthcare organizations.
By improving the standard of care, healthcare management supports the success of healthcare organizations and, as a result, patient outcomes, in addition to effectively coordinating stakeholders. The solid performance of healthcare systems and efficient healthcare management are directly related. In addition, it has been demonstrated that subpar healthcare management hinders healthcare systems from meeting global healthcare objectives, such as lowering child mortality or enhancing maternal health.
Provision of high-quality resources
Healthcare companies can more efficiently deploy their limited time and resources with the aid of qualified managers, enabling them to treat more patients with high-quality treatment. For instance, if healthcare management observes that nurses are overworked and overburdened because they spend a lot of time answering calls, they can think about assigning this responsibility to nursing assistants. As a result of this modification, nurses will have more time to dedicate to their primary duties.
The roles and responsibilities of care managers in healthcare
Care managers have a variety of responsibilities in a healthcare organization. However, five of the major ones are highlighted and elaborated below.
Healthcare management focuses on raising the standard of care, which benefits healthcare businesses. Similar to hotel or eatery managers, healthcare administrators must select what types of equipment and resources they need to operate efficiently. There are expenses related to bed linens, staff salaries, IV bags and new equipment. They must communicate with the workforce to determine the financial needs of each department while avoiding unnecessary overheads. The ability to discriminate between demands that can be lessened and those that cannot, when necessary, must be possessed by professional management.
Billing of customers
The most difficult aspect of managing a healthcare facility is invoicing. It is challenging when someone is ill and unable to pay for medical care. As deductibles increase, individuals who cannot pay for treatment bear a greater portion of the financial burden. However, healthcare administrators in this field might start to lessen that load while still generating the required money if they collaborate with them to set up financing options.
Quality control/quality assurance
Although the idea of quality assurance might make you picture assembly lines and conveyor belts rather than hospitals, these facilities nonetheless need lots of process and safety assessment work done. Are the procedures being billed accurate? Do lab test results arrive on time? Are safety precautions being followed? In a sector where the stakes might be high, this requirement for critical analysis and proactive management is especially crucial. Apparently little matters such as planning and prescribing take on great importance when the health of the patient is in danger. Managers must therefore continually assess the effectiveness and security of the activities at their sites.
Management of the staff
Training in the field of healthcare is essential for this position. Managers must comprehend the priorities of the companies they collaborate with within all areas, from hiring to scheduling. For instance, if the company wants to save expenses by releasing phlebotomists, a manager must recognize that adding the time- and money-consuming task of collecting blood to a physician’s responsibilities is not feasible. To prevent the overburdening of companies or having to find another strategy to slash the budget, the care manager must come up with a plan. This is only possible if they have the right knowledge, the right amount of experience, and good communication skills. These skills will allow managers to effectively advocate for their team even if they have no clinical experience.
Management of projects
Healthcare, just like any other industry, has its goals. Smart and experienced healthcare management professionals understand the importance of looking at the bigger picture and diligently seek to prevent roadblocks or other obstacles that might slow progress, regardless of whether they are adopting a new policy for treating specific patient conditions or a new billing procedure. They also establish reasonable implementation objectives and gather data in case the plans need to be modified along the road.
Where do care managers work?
Healthcare managers work in a variety of departments within and outside a healthcare organization. Depending on where exactly they work, their job role might differ slightly. Listed below are some of the places where care managers work:
- Hospitals and clinics
- Nursing homes
- Outpatient departments
- Psychiatric hospitals and rehabilitation centers for drug addicts
- Diagnostic laboratories
- Different medical research departments
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Physicians’ offices
Essential skills to become an expert healthcare manager
The job of a care manager in healthcare is much more demanding than a manager in any other organization because not only is the value and reputation of a healthcare organization dependent on their decisions, but the lives of the patients also directly or indirectly depend on their decisions. This drastically reduces the room for making any mistakes. As a result, these professionals must be highly skilled and experienced in the field. Below is a list of necessary skills for healthcare managers.
Effective communication skills are necessary and very much appreciated when working in teams along with other healthcare professionals from other specialties. Additionally, it’s crucial for patient-centered treatment. In every facet of healthcare administration, this ability to communicate effectively is essential. On the contrary, faulty communication or an absence of communication in the medical field might cause patients to not understand the guidance given to them or even disregard treatment guidelines completely. Additionally, it may cause a team breakdown resulting in a medical mistake. According to a Joint Commission assessment, faulty communication during patient transfers resulted in 80% of serious medical mistakes. Care managers must consult with other clinical and administrative personnel when determining a budget or making a schedule to comprehend how their choices may impact others.
Many people find it extremely hard to take orders or work with or under people. However, teamwork is a crucial part of healthcare. It holds a lot of importance when it comes to high-quality healthcare delivery because healthcare is a multidisciplinary field. The doctor or the nurse alone cannot treat a patient, nor can a phlebotomist or a physiotherapist. The collaboration of experts from different medical specialties is what allows healthcare professionals to provide a high-quality treatment and patient experience. In the same way, healthcare managers must also be able to work in a team. They must be able to give the correct orders at the correct time to the correct people. At the same time, they must also be able to understand the feedback they get from their peers and incorporate it into their decisions to make them more fruitful and effective.
Building healthy relationships with peers
This is as important as teamwork. In fact, it is a requirement for teamwork. A team’s collective effort is required to maintain a healthy workspace, not simply one person’s efforts. A group can function effectively when everyone pulls together and contributes to a single objective. Team members must therefore work to develop positive relationships with one another. Collaboration is significantly simpler when a supervisor has done an excellent job of cultivating solid professional connections with their colleagues.
It is always preferable for the healthcare manager to have a strong background in healthcare and medicine. However, some managers might not have a medical background as most job responsibilities are related to business management. Regardless, a care manager must have the ability to research. Experts in the field have researched almost all possible administrative and management-related problems that a care manager could encounter at their workplace. Researching scholarly libraries and websites to locate the right knowledge can help them make evidence-based decisions.
As highlighted above, healthcare managers might get tested with countless problems. Sometimes the employees will go on uninformed leave. Other times, the patients will want a specific off-duty nurse to care for them. In such a job role, it is necessary for managers to be critical thinkers with strong problem-solving abilities so that they can come up with solutions without compromising the quality of care.
Giving attention to details
Decisions made by healthcare management have an impact on patients, staff and facilities. While juggling the demands of many stakeholders, they must carefully strive toward a unified objective. Healthcare managers must take into account all the aspects of a scenario while addressing problems, weighing each action against factors such as finances, rules, regulations and safety. This is true whether they are dealing with a staff conflict or a healthcare crisis.
What educational background is required to become a care manager in healthcare?
In most cases, candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree in healthcare management are preferred for the position. However, individuals who have a bachelor’s degree in public health management are also considered. The course syllabus of both of these focuses primarily on business, administration and management-related courses, as their duties do not include direct patient care.
However, recently the trend of nurses as care managers has started to pick up pace where nurses also study business, administration, and management-related subjects during the course of their nursing degree. As a result, nurses can provide direct and indirect care to patients. This is a revolutionary change in the scope of nursing because nurses have a deeper understanding of patients’ problems and concerns. They also have extensive knowledge of a healthcare organization’s ins and outs. All of these factors make them ideal candidates for care managers in healthcare. For nurses who have already completed their BSN degree and want a slight change in their career path, online accelerated BSN nursing programs are available. Through these online opportunities, nurses will be able to gain the additional knowledge they need to become competent care managers at a fast pace.
The demand for care managers in healthcare
A handsome salary package is offered for care managers in healthcare who decide to pursue a career in the US. According to Talent.com, the average salary for a care manager in 2023 would be around $69,703 per annum. This is an average pay, which means that for those who are just beginning their careers in care management, the salary might be a little less (around $44,000 per year), whereas for those who are experienced, the salary might be higher (around $100,000 per year). The salary package might also differ based on the company and its location across the country.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2026, healthcare will become one of the biggest employment sectors. As a result, there will be a great demand for creative and sympathetic healthcare managers across the nation. The demand for healthcare managers is not just limited to the US. The need for skilled and experienced care managers is global. According to Nursing Process, the list of countries where care managers are needed includes New Zealand, Singapore, Canada, Australia and Germany, among many others.
The management of the healthcare systems is the responsibility of healthcare administrators. For those who are passionate about health and medicine but prefer the financial side of healthcare organizations, being a healthcare manager may be an excellent career choice.
The future as a healthcare manager
The future as a healthcare manager or a care manager is quite promising. The elderly population is constantly increasing due to the constant developments in medicine and healthcare. Due to this, more and more people will need high-quality healthcare in the future. As a result, the need and value of care managers in various healthcare organizations will increase drastically. The salary for this position has increased steadily, and it will keep increasing in the future. Therefore, those with a background in healthcare and an interest in administrative roles should look into a career as a healthcare manager.
The job of a healthcare manager is very diverse and involves a lot of behind-the-scenes work. These professionals do not provide direct care to patients, but they take care of all the matters that might impact the quality of care provided to the patients in any healthcare organization. The ideal skillset necessary for becoming a competent healthcare manager includes abilities to solve problems quickly, conduct research, work in a team, communicate effectively, and have at least a BSN degree. The future for those who pursue a career in this field is extremely bright due to the continuously increasing demand. The salary for these individuals has also been increasing steadily, due to which it is a new and ideal field for beginning a career.