Healthcare industry has been evolving dramatically in the last few decades. Population needs and demands are increasing in a way that requires more attention and co- efforts of all stakeholders involved in this industry.
What is Healthcare Administration?
Healthcare administration has become a fundamental approach to introduce healthcare professionals to the main responsibilities at various range of scopes and enable them to manage their healthcare facilities in an effective way. This requires more understanding of the growing and changing healthcare industry, besides focusing on building more critical and analytical thinking and getting in line with all external and internal factors.
Healthcare administration is about the future leaders of the twenty-first century who take into consideration the combination of business knowledge, technical knowledge, hospitality knowledge, and healthcare knowledge, to lead and successfully manage their healthcare organization.
Scope of healthcare administration
Healthcare administration addresses a large scope of settings and services, ranging from a single physician office to polyclinics, network of hospitals, home care, nursing home, hospice care, continuing or long-term care.
Healthcare administration is about connecting the dots between what has been learned, applying the acquired knowledge on the job itself. It’s about complying with local, state and federal laws and regulations, creating an ethical dynamics environment, setting standards of care at every diagnostic or therapeutic procedure, and integrating technological enhancements. Moreover, healthcare administration emphasizes on the enhancement of building capacities through the professional development of healthcare providers, who are responsible for providing the best quality of care, to ultimately attain efficient and effective healthcare services, by avoiding misuse, overuse, and underuse of the resources.
To function a healthcare facility of any kind whether a solo practice or group practice, small hospital or a big hospital, two groups of personnel are required; the clinical personnel and the administrative one. Clinical personnel include those individuals who are trained to work directly with the care of patients within the healthcare facility in order to provide diagnostics, preventive, and therapeutic care; such as physicians, nurses, therapists, and technicians. Whereas the administrative personnel are those non- clinical staff members who are complementing the provision of healthcare, by providing non-clinical services such as Admission department, Medical records department, Marketing Dept, Financial department, and other departments related to administrative work.
All healthcare administrators should be aware of the current and future challenges facing the healthcare industry, to be well prepared to handle wide range of aspects related to the business in healthcare. Such challenges are determined by technological innovations, organizational behavior, Compliance strategies, healthcare financing, health information management, human resource management, the physical environment, and facility management.
Since the needs for healthcare services have been expanding over the recent decades, the way the individuals are using the resources available (Utilization) has also changed. For example, the expansion of preventive medicine services and techniques have a dramatically prolonged the lifespan of patients. Early detection of diseases followed by proper and instant interventions helped the individuals avoid invasive tertiary healthcare and post complications.
Factors affecting the utilization of health care services
The utilization of healthcare services can be increased or decreased by diverse scope of factors such as demographic changes, public awareness, technology, changes in consumer preferences, new diseases, new discoveries in medicine, introducing non- traditional healthcare services such as ambulatory care, and changes in the practice pattern (invasive vs non- invasive procedures).
The table below shows factors that decrease or increase health services utilization.
|Factors that may Decrease Health
|Factors that may Increase Health Services
|Decreased supply (e.g., hospital closures, large numbers of physicians retiring).||Increased supply (e.g., ambulatory surgery centers, assisted living residence).
|Public health / sanitation advances (e.g., quality standards for food and water distribution).
Better understanding of the risk factors of diseases and prevention initiatives (e.g., smoking prevention programs, cholesterol lowering drugs).
|Growing elderly population:
– More functional limitations associated with aging.
|Discovery / implementation of treatment that cure or eliminate diseases.||New procedures and technologies (e.g., hip replacement, stent insertion, MRI).|
|Consensus documents or guidelines that recommend decrease of utilization.||Consensus documents or guidelines that recommend increase of utilization.|
|Shifts to other sites of care may cause decline in utilization in the original sites: As technology allows shifts (e.g., ambulatory care) as alternatives sites of care become available (e.g., assisted living).||New disease entities (e.g., HIV / AIDS, bioterrorism).|
|Payer pressure to reduce costs.
Changes in practice patterns (e.g., encouraging self-care and healthy lifestyle, reduced length of stay).
|New drugs, expanded use of existing drugs Increased health insurance coverage.|
|Changes in consumer preferences (e.g., home birthing, more self-care, alternative medicine).||Consumer / employee pressures for more comprehensive insurance coverage.
Changes in practice patterns (e.g., more aggressive treatment of the elderly).
Changes in consumer preferences and demand (e.g., cosmetic surgery, hip and knee replacement, direct marketing of drugs.
Source: Center for disease control and prevention. Retrieved from: Healthcare in America: Trends in Utilization-Centers for Disease.
Role of a healthcare administrator
Moreover, healthcare administrators responsible for improving the level of healthcare, through using several formulas; in any size facility, to identify problem areas when compared to national statistics.
The table below shows 12 topic areas related to healthcare facility and correlated leading health indicators.
|12 Topic Areas||26 Leading Health Indicators|
|Access to Health
|Persons with medical insurance.
Persons with a usual primary care provider.
|Clinical Preventive Services||Adults who receive a colorectal cancer screening based on most recent guidelines.
Adult with Hypertension whose blood pressure is under control.
Adult diabetic population with A 1 c value greater than 9 percent.
Children aged 19 to 35 months who receive the recommended doses of diphtheria,
|Environmental Quality||Air Quality Index (AQI) exceeding 100.
Children aged 3 to 11 years exposed to secondhand smoke.
|Injuries and Violence||Fatal injuries – Homicides.|
|Maternal, Infant, and
|Infant deaths, Preterm birth.|
Adolescents who experience major depressive episodes (MDEs).
Adults who meet current federal physical activity guidelines for aerobic physical activity
Adults who are obese. Children and adolescents who are considered obese.
Total vegetable intake for persons aged 2 years and older.
|Oral Health||Persons aged 2 years and older who used the oral health care system in the past 12 months.|
|Sexually active females aged 15-44 years who received reproductive health services in the past 12 months.
Persons living with HIV who know their serostatus.
|Social Determinants||Students who graduate with a regular diploma 4 years after starting ninth grade.|
|Substance Abuse||Adolescents using alcohol or any illicit drugs during the past 30 days.
Adults engaged in binge drinking during the past 30 days.
|Tobacco||Adults who are current cigarette smokers.
Adolescents who smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days.
Source: Making Health Care Safer: A Critical Analysis of Patient Safety Practices.
Furthermore in regards to mitigating the medical errors issue, different concepts can be applied by healthcare administrators using different practices at their health facility.
“Researchers now believe that of medical errors can’t be prevented by perfecting the technical work of individuals, doctors, nurses, or pharmacist. improving patient safety involved a team, who may adopt strategies from outside healthcare”
The report reviews several practices whose evidence came from the domains of commercial aviation, nuclear, safety, and aerospace, and the discipline of human factors, engineering and organisational theory. Such practices include root cause analysis, computerized physician order entry and decision support, automated medication despising systems, bar coding technology, aviation style preoperative checklists, promoting a culture of safety crew resource management, the use of simulators in training, and integrating human factors theory into the design of medical devices and alarms. “ Source: Making Health Care Safer: A Critical Analysis of Patient Safety Practices.
In conclusion, the role of a healthcare administrator is essential in managing any healthcare facility. Healthcare administrators should structure and execute a cohesive strategic plan by analyzing data and identifying the trends of improvements to maintain a well-designed process that is easy to follow and improve. This will ultimately ensure both efficient and effective delivery of healthcare services. The former is related to the best use of resources by minimizing the waste of time, energy and costs. The latter is related to achieving best-desired outcome addressed by patient’s improved health status and patient satisfaction.
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