December 8, 2023

How to Become a Health Services Administrator

Many people wonder how to be a health services administrator. The position entails a wide variety of specialized skills that are put into play on a daily basis in order for a healthcare institution to run effectively and efficiently.

General Overview

Healthcare administration is the ability to manage information and personnel in a way that makes medically necessary services available to a given patient population. A patient population may be made up of persons living in a geographic area, in the case of primary care providers, or it may be a more focused population of patients who need specialized services, such as physical therapy or dialysis. Administrators manage the day-to-day operations of a healthcare delivery, as well as the business operations that keep the practice financially solvent. Though administrators are not experts in every field they oversee, they do have a working knowledge of what each role entails.

Required Education

Most health services administrators possess at least a bachelors’ degree in healthcare administration, accounting, or health information management. They have experience in bookkeeping, medical billing, medical coding compliance, purchasing, accounts receivable, accounts payable, inventory control, and human resources. While it is possible to move up the career ladder to fill an administrative position, persons looking to enter the field without experience are usually required to possess some formal education from a community college, a private college, or an accredited program of study.

General Duties

As a member of the management team, health services administrators manage the scheduling not only of technicians and healthcare providers, but also of patients. Only a certain number of patients can be served effectively in a given timeframe. For instance, in radiology, a machine can only be booked for one patient per procedure. Overbooking a time slot for this machine will increase wait times and back up the schedule, causing patient discontent and reducing the efficacy of each procedure if technicians need to rush patients through the schedule.

In addition to the delivery of patient care, health services administrators oversee the financial operations of a healthcare institution. This requires being familiar with the the intricacies of medical documentation, medical coding and medical billing. The business of healthcare is conducted in the language of medical code that is submitted to third-party payers to receive legally appropriate reimbursement. Health services administrators oversee credentialing of healthcare providers with third-party payers, and monitor compliance with contracts signed between these payers and the administrator’s employer.

Healthcare reimbursement is governed by a complex and overlapping set of regulations, statutes, and contractual obligations. For this reason, most employers prefer the reassurance that an applicant for this position possesses the appropriate training and professional qualifications to navigate this regulatory terrain. While administrators do not perform the actual work of submitting healthcare claims and reconciling accounts, they need to be aware of all the applicable issues.

Career Prospects

The healthcare sector has grown during the latest recession. Demand for professionals who can manage all the details that go into delivering medically necessary services offers steady prospects for those who have the skills. The answer to how to be a health services administrator is to obtain the proper training and the experience needed to succeed in this important position.