By Christina Thielst, FACHE
The healthcare delivery system is transforming and shifting approaches create new opportunities for those considering a healthcare career. Healthcare Administrative positions have always been popular, but the increasing adoption of information technology and data-based decision making presents new opportunities for advancement.
According to O*NET OnLine, the projected growth for healthcare administrative professions is expected to be at least 22%, which is higher than average. Some key roles that will contribute to this rate of growth include those in health information management, billing and health services management.
Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
Health information technicians compile, process and maintain medical records for patients of hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and clinics. The recent shift toward the widespread adoption of electronic health records has moved daily tasks from a heavy paper-based environment to technology-based. The result is that applicants for these positions increasingly must be comfortable navigating health information technology and be familiar with privacy and confidentiality safeguards in networked and exchange environments.
According to O*NET OnLine, the projected growth for healthcare administrative professions is expected to be at least 22%
Medical record and information technicians are heavily involved with medical, administrative, ethical, legal and regulatory requirements. Some also specialize in the assignment of codes to the care patients receive in accordance with well-defined numerical coding systems. The upcoming transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 in hospital environments, including a significant increase in the number of potential codes, presents tremendous opportunities for these individuals. The increased specificity will benefit healthcare administrators by providing more detailed information for decision making, but it will also motivate some coders who are nearing retirement to exit before having to learn the new system.
Another increasingly important component of these positions is the ability to retrieve, aggregate and report on the clinical information contained in health records to improve decision making by medical staff and administrators. Individuals with deep knowledge of electronic health records and the ability to manage the data they contain will be particularly valuable as the United States shifts to a more population-based approach to healthcare. The median salary is $16.81 per hour, or $34,970 annually, with those who supervise or specialize in coding earning more.
Billing, Cost, and Rate Clerks
Just as medical records and health information technicians are managing information and data in patient medical records, business office clerks are managing billing, costs and other financial data. Most hospitals and clinics already have electronic financial systems so information technology expertise is vital. Individuals in these roles compile data, compute fees and charges, and prepare invoices for billing purposes. The current emphasis on population healthcare and reducing costs in healthcare is prompting healthcare organizations to have a better explanation of their costs and the reflection of these in charges to their patients and insurers. An ability to manage this data and produce reports to assist decision makers is an increasingly important skill.
The median salary for these positions is $16.26 per hour, $33,820 annually, but it increases for those who move into data analyst or supervisory roles.
Medical and Healthcare administrator salary
Medical and healthcare administrators plan, direct, or coordinate medical and health services in hospitals, clinics, managed care organizations, public health agencies, or similar organizations. This might include managing medical records, health information or billing departments.
These individuals conduct and administer fiscal operations, including accounting, planning budgets, authorizing expenditures, establishing rates for services and coordinating financial reporting. Other important job functions for the evolving healthcare delivery system include:
Review and analyze facility activities and data to aid planning and risk management and to improve service utilization.
Maintain awareness of advances in medicine, computerized diagnostic and treatment equipment, data processing technology, government regulations, health insurance changes and financing options.
Monitor the use of diagnostic services, inpatient beds, facilities and staff to ensure effective use of resources and assess the need for additional staff, equipment and services.
The median salary for healthcare administrator is $43.72 per hour, $90,940 annually. Those with strong health information technology or clinical backgrounds can earn more and have tremendous opportunities for advancement.
While entry level positions in any of these fields do not always require a college degree, some do require at minimum an associate or Healthcare Admin bachelor’s degree. A master’s degree in Healthcare Admin is preferred, and sometimes required, for healthcare administrator or manager positions.
Christina Thielst, FACHE, is a skilled and innovative hospital and healthcare administrator and entrepreneur with a deep desire for continually improving the health of the community being served. Blogger on Healthcare Administration since 2005. Christina is also the author of "Applying Social Media Technologies in Healthcare Environments."