- Healthcare management and healthcare administration are often used synonymously. However, they are distinct fields with some notable differences.
- Healthcare management refers to the planning, execution, and supervision of the long-term goals of a healthcare organization. It is considered a part of the business or economic side of the healthcare industry.
- Healthcare administration refers to the strategic organization and supervision of day-to-day operations and individual departments involved in the efficient functioning of healthcare services and facilities.
- Understanding healthcare management vs. healthcare administration can help you identify and pursue a career that aligns with your goals.
The US healthcare industry is huge, and continues to grow along with the population. In fact, by 2028, the national healthcare expenditure is expected to reach a whopping $6.2 trillion, according to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). However, many reports also show that the vast majority of adults in the US feel that healthcare management and administration need improvement.
YOU can be the change the healthcare industry needs. A degree in healthcare management or healthcare administration can be a great first step towards this goal.
The National Center for Education Statistics’ (NCES) Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) groups health/healthcare management/administration programs together, defining them as:
Programs that prepare individuals to develop, plan, and manage healthcare operations and services within healthcare facilities and across healthcare systems. Includes instruction in planning, business management, financial management, public relations, human resources management, health care systems operation and management, health care resource allocation and policy making, health law and regulations, and applications to specific types of health care services.
Although used interchangeably in many instances, it is worthwhile to understand the nuances of healthcare management vs. healthcare administration, since this understanding can prove valuable when choosing a degree program to join the dynamic healthcare industry.
Healthcare management refers to the practice of overseeing healthcare facilities, services, and teams to ensure their efficient long-term operation and the delivery of quality patient care.
Healthcare managers play a crucial role in planning, organizing, and coordinating various aspects of healthcare organizations, including staffing, budgeting, compliance, and quality improvement, to effectively meet the healthcare needs of their communities.
What Can I Learn From a Healthcare Management Degree?
The coursework, practical learning opportunities, and curricula of healthcare management programs can vary based on college, degree level, and program type. Typically, you can expect to learn the following subjects:
- Healthcare Management Information Systems
- Economics of Healthcare
- Healthcare Marketing and Strategy
- Healthcare Resource Allocation
Along with core courses related to the modern healthcare industry, these subjects together build a solid foundation for students who aspire to become healthcare leaders.
Types of Degree Programs in Healthcare Management
Today, there are several types of degree programs available for students interested in healthcare management. These programs are designed to equip you with the knowledge and skills you’ll need to succeed in this field. Whether you’re just starting out in healthcare management or want to advance your career, you have plenty of options to choose from.
Some of the common healthcare management degrees include:
- Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Healthcare Management
- Associate of Science (AS) in Healthcare Management
- Associate of Arts (AA) in Healthcare Management
- Bachelor of Science (BS) in Healthcare Management
- Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Healthcare Management
- Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) with a concentration in Healthcare Management
- Master of Science in Healthcare Management
- Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in Healthcare Management
- Master of Health Administration (MHA)
- Doctor of Healthcare Management (DHM)
- Doctor of Management (DM) with a concentration in Healthcare Management and Leadership
It’s worth noting that online healthcare management degrees are quickly gaining popularity since they enable students to graduate even while actively interning or working to gain experience. Many universities offer 100% online, hybrid, part-time, or accelerated programs that cater to students from all backgrounds, making their healthcare education more accessible.
Healthcare administration refers to the strategic organization and supervision of day-to-day operations and individual departments involved in the efficient functioning of healthcare services and facilities. Simply put, it involves overseeing the daily functions of healthcare delivery systems, and making decisions to improve their efficiency.
Healthcare administrators are the driving forces behind most healthcare organizations. They are responsible for ensuring that essential healthcare services work as intended, smoothly, and with no hiccups. A common misconception is that healthcare administrators work only in hospitals. In reality, they are also often seen in pharmaceutical companies, governmental organizations, and even in medical consulting agencies.
What Can I Learn From a Healthcare Administration Degree?
The coursework and curriculum of a degree in healthcare administration may vary by university and level. Here are some common courses you can expect as part of your healthcare administration degree:
- Human Resource Management in Healthcare
- Continuous Quality Improvements & Risk Management in Healthcare
- Healthcare Accounting
- The History of the Modern Healthcare System
These courses offer unique insights into the modern healthcare system and challenge students to think critically about operational aspects of healthcare. Choosing an ideal healthcare administration program is key to a successful future in this field.
As mentioned earlier, many universities use healthcare management and administration interchangeably. As such, many programs in both fields share similar courses. Common subjects found in both healthcare management and administration programs include healthcare ethics and laws, health informatics, leadership principles in healthcare organizations, and public health. Besides this, many programs also include general studies subjects such as algebra, interpersonal communication, psychology, biology, social sciences, and more.
Types of Degree Programs in Healthcare Administration
As with healthcare management, there are also plenty of opportunities for students in healthcare administration, across degree levels.
Some of the common healthcare administration degrees include:
- Associate degrees in healthcare administration (typically AS)
- Bachelor of Science (BS) in Healthcare Administration
- Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Healthcare Administration
- Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA)
- Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in Healthcare Management
- Master of Health Administration (MHA)
- Doctor of Healthcare Administration (DHA)
- Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) with a concentration in Healthcare Administration
It is interesting to note that some programs even offer concentrations that merge subjects from both fields. For instance, American Intercontinental University (AIU) offers a Bachelor of Healthcare Management (BHCM) program that allows students to choose healthcare administration as their concentration.
When comparing healthcare management vs. healthcare administration, you may notice that while these fields share common goals related to the efficient delivery of healthcare services, they encompass distinct responsibilities and functions. Understanding the differences between healthcare management and healthcare administration is crucial for those considering careers in healthcare leadership.
Whether you aspire to shape long-term healthcare strategies or ensure the smooth operation of healthcare facilities on a daily basis, exploring these differences can help you chart the ideal course for your healthcare career.
|Healthcare Management||Healthcare Administration|
|Core Responsibilities||Planning, execution, and supervision of the long-term goals of a healthcare organization||Organization and supervision of day-to-day operations and individual departments in healthcare settings.|
|Daily Tasks||Strategic planning, budgets, and addressing organizational challenges||Managing staff and equipment and ensuring the smooth operation of healthcare facilities.|
|Skills Required||Strategic thinking, policy analysis, and critical decision-making abilities.||Communication skills, team management, and problem-solving skills.|
|Patient Interaction||Less direct patient interaction. More involved in policymaking, compliance, and organizational leadership.||Limited patient interaction. More focused on managing healthcare teams, budgets, and operations.|
|Examples of Degree Programs||Fisher College’s BS in Healthcare Management||University of Arizona Global Campus (UAGC)’s BA in Healthcare Administration|
|Examples of Roles||Medical and health services managers|
Health information managers
To understand the differences between the two fields, you can analyze the core responsibilities, daily tasks, skills required, and the level of patient interaction involved in healthcare management vs administration.
Healthcare management primarily involves the planning, execution, and supervision of the long-term goals of a healthcare organization. Managers in this field are responsible for strategic planning, budgeting, and addressing organizational challenges.
On the other hand, healthcare administration focuses on the organization and supervision of day-to-day operations and individual departments within healthcare settings. Administrators manage staff and equipment and ensure the smooth operation of healthcare facilities.
The daily tasks of healthcare management professionals revolve around strategic planning, budgets, and addressing organizational challenges. They focus on shaping the organization’s long-term vision and goals.
In contrast, healthcare administrators are more involved in managing day-to-day operations. Their tasks include overseeing staff, coordinating equipment and resources, and ensuring that healthcare facilities operate efficiently on a daily basis.
Healthcare management demands skills in strategic thinking, financial management, policy analysis, and critical decision-making. Managers need to make high-level decisions that can impact the organization’s future.
On the other hand, healthcare administration requires skills in communication, team management, and problem-solving. Administrators must excel in managing daily operations, addressing immediate issues, and coordinating with various healthcare teams.
Healthcare managers typically have less direct patient interaction as their focus is on policy making, compliance, and organizational leadership. They work behind the scenes to ensure the organization’s long-term success.
Healthcare administrators may have limited patient interaction in some settings, but play a vital role in managing healthcare teams and operations. They are more hands-on in overseeing the day-to-day functioning of healthcare facilities.
The career paths in both fields are similar, with overlaps in many settings. Healthcare management and administration graduates often seek roles as medical and health services managers and healthcare administrators.
It is not uncommon for professionals in either field to switch paths after their education. Though the fields are distinct, they share core features that enable students to seamlessly transition if they so choose.
One of the notable aspects of pursuing a career in healthcare management or healthcare administration is the potential for flexibility and movement between these fields. These two fields share common elements, making it feasible to pivot from one to the other.
Transitioning between healthcare management and administration is viable due to the substantial overlap in core competencies. Both roles require leadership, knowledge of the healthcare industry, and problem-solving abilities.
Here’s what you need to make it possible:
Recognize the skills you already possess that are transferable between these fields, such as leadership, communication, and decision-making.
Education and Training
Consider additional education, practical experiences, or healthcare management/administration certifications that can bolster your qualifications for your desired roles. Some institutions offer specialized programs designed for professionals looking to make this transition.
Build a robust professional network within the healthcare industry. Connect with individuals who have successfully navigated similar transitions, as they can provide valuable insights.
Transitioning requires careful consideration of a few important factors:
Clearly define your career objectives and the motivations behind your transition. Determine whether the move aligns with your long-term aspirations.
Assess whether additional education or training is necessary to excel in your target role. This investment can enhance your readiness for the new position.
Transitioning may involve adapting to a different work environment and culture. Healthcare managers often play office-based roles, meeting with stakeholders and making long-term plans, while administrators commonly work actively with teams performing daily activities, helping them solve problems and allocate resources more efficiently.
Identify any specific skills or knowledge areas that you need to develop or strengthen for your target position. Tailor your efforts accordingly.
Which Should You Choose?
To figure out the right answer, you should first ask yourself some pressing questions.
1. What motivates you to pursue a career in healthcare?
2. What aspects of the healthcare system interest you the most?
3. What role do you see yourself playing?
These are probably questions that will take you some time to answer, and that’s perfectly fine. The vast majority of students are uncertain about what they want their future to look like. The fact that you’ve identified that you want to pursue a career in healthcare management or administration is commendable.
If you’re hoping to play a role that lets you make important decisions to improve healthcare services, then you may be better suited for a role in healthcare management. To be a good healthcare manager takes strong critical decision-making abilities, along with keen foresight, and analytical skills.
If you feel more inclined towards looking over the daily functioning of various units of the healthcare system, then healthcare administration may be the path for you. Healthcare administrators need to have the ability to lead teams and solve problems through effective communication and leadership.
While comparing degrees in healthcare management vs. healthcare administration, remember that you can always transition between fields and switch paths with little effort. Programs in either area can lead you to your desired career in healthcare leadership.
As we wrap up our exploration of healthcare management vs. healthcare administration, one thing becomes abundantly clear – both fields are essential pillars in the ever-evolving healthcare sector. These roles are the driving force behind the efficient delivery of healthcare services, the management of resources, and the pursuit of excellence in healthcare.
Healthcare management and administration each offer distinct but interconnected pathways to contribute to the betterment of healthcare systems. Healthcare managers shape the long-term strategies that guide organizations, while healthcare administrators ensure that day-to-day operations run seamlessly. Both roles are indispensable, and you can find your niche based on your unique skills, interests, and career goals.
Whether you choose the strategic path of healthcare management or the operational path of healthcare administration, your journey in the healthcare industry is bound to be challenging, yet rewarding, and impactful.
While a background in healthcare can be beneficial, it’s not always a prerequisite. Many healthcare management and administration programs welcome individuals from diverse educational and professional backgrounds.
Yes. Many universities offer part-time and online healthcare management and administration degrees, allowing you to balance your education with work or other commitments.